Sunday, July 15, 2012

Under the Sea  . . . or at least Under the Dock

Hello . . . again. Shaun here with another blog post, this time to talk about 11 new friends I made today in the intertidal zone. Then again, I think I got a little too much sun, so I very well may have imagined all of  these. Anyone else see a singing red crab? No? Um, me neither. 

Without further ado, here are my best guesses at the 11 flora and fauna that I met today along the docks. 

11 - Purple sea urchin (Aquarium) - I'm not really sure if this one counts or not, but what the hell, I'm throwing it in there. It was round and spiny and brightly colored and just gave the Atlantic Harbor Seal pen that little "je ne sais quoi." That's French for "it really spruced up the joint."

10 - Spongomorpha (Rowe's Wharf) - it's clumpy, slimy, green and looks not unlike sea snot. Frankly, it was so distracting that I somehow forgot to get a picture of it. Moving on . . .

9 - Sea Lettuce (Everywhere) - Pretty much looks exactly like it sounds. Honestly, if I was the first person to find sea lettuce and got to name it, that is probably the best thing I could have come up with as well. Nothing like a nice head of iceberg soaking in some brackish water, amiright?

8 - Club Tunicate (Barking Crab) - Almost missed this guy because he was covered in an as-yet-unnamed mucusy layer (mmmmm). We also almost misdiagnosed it as the orange footed cucumber until I randomly and without prior suggestion decided to take a look at the Blackboard site. I would also recommend cutting one open and seeing what looks like a giant pimento inside.

7 - Blue Mussels (Literally, everywhere) - Seriously, these were everywhere from the other side of Long Wharf to Rowe's and the Crab. I'm pretty sure I even saw some growing on a homeless gentleman who decided to sleep a little too close to the water. Needless to say, they were plentiful, some vacant, some with their owner's still intact. A good number of them were covered in the aforementioned mucusy discharge as well as the next two on this list

6 - Halichondria Panacea (Rowe's & Crab) - I'm still not sold on this one as it very well could be Boring Sponge as well. Unfortunately, I bought the book with illustrations rather than pictures. After a little more time looking at both on Google, I'm going with HP.

5 - Bowerbank's Halichondria (Rowe's & Crab) - We originally thought that this was the same organism as 6, but after some more inspection came to the conclusion that it was not. I would have called this one Macandcheese Halichondria, but Bowerbank probably deserves to have a namesake.

4 - Skeleton Shrimp (Everywhere) - Again, these things were everywhere. Little shrimp like bugs/organisms that were covering pretty much anything we pulled out of the water, including the rope line with our next friend below . . .

3 - Sea Squirt (Rowe's) - I'm not positive about this one as the pictures I got were not as up close and personal as the others, but this is my best guess for the little tube-like things that were on the rope line and squirting to defend their turf.

2 - Graceful Red Weed (Rowe's Wharf) - Honestly, isn't that just a pretty great name? It makes it sound a lot better than a pile of red weeds that we pulled out. On the plus side, not very greasy.

1 - Soft Sour Weed (Rowe's Wharf) - I would have called this sea grass as that is basically what it is, only a darker shade of green and much much thinner. 

Now, onto the comparison of the docks from this year to last year. There doesn't seem to be a lot that jumps out at me. There are clearly more barnacles in the picture from last year. I don't recall seeing many at all in the sections of dock that I inspected (yes, yes, I am not counting the posts we looked at in Rowe's). The colors are slightly different, but the reds and oranges are most likely the two types of Halichondria from above. I don't see a lot of green aside from what might be a touch of spongomorpha. No sea lettuce anyway which is fairly surprising. Rock weed and sea lettuce were pretty much everywhere we went today as well. I also don't see any skeleton shrimp, though I didn't pick them up in my shots unless they were extremely close up, so it's possible they are just not in range. I'm sure I am missing something(s) obvious as I am just starting to get the hang of the scientific observation thing, but I am looking forward to another round of WTF.

Stay cool, harbor enthusiasts,
-Shaun Bossio

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