Friday, July 18, 2014

#Hashtag's 4th wheel

Sunday’s class was our first where we got to grab creepy things from their watery lairs and try and count their bits and pieces before they died. 

The dying part was sad. The creepiness was… creepy. And there was also a pretty unpleasant smell that was tough to wash off my hands afterwards. But it was also fun and fascinating! I think what really blew me away was just how many species can be found living on a single muscle (enough that I’m certain that I didn’t find all of them).

On to my observations: Our first stop was the Water Transportation Dock at Fan Pier Cove. We broke into groups and I somehow managed to glob onto team #, which was lucky for me (I believe we were the only team of 4). I worked with Daniela, Sonja and Chris, and I don’t think my observations would have been enough to identify all of these species without their help.

Here’s what I believe I saw on the Water Transportation Doc:

Sea Lettuce – this seemed to be everywhere we looked yet in small quantities. I definitely observed it here and at the Barking Crab docks. At first I confused it with another type of seaweed that was the same color but longer, which brings us to:

Kelp maybe? - I actually wasn’t able to identify exactly what the longer flat green type of seaweed was, besides that it’s not just bigger sea lettuce, an it’s probably some form of kelp.

Frayed Weed – I believe this is the type of reddish brown seaweed I saw on the north west side of the dock.

Lacey Red Weed – I think this is the finer red seaweed I observed on both docks.

Hollow Green Weed – these were the worm-like weeds on the north-east and south-east sides of the dock.

Barnacles – I believe the two types of barnacles I saw were the ‘Little Grey’ and the ‘Crenate’ (the muscle shell I looked at had many little greys and a single Crenate).

The green fennel-like seaweed I saw on the north west side of the dock may have been green sea fern, but I’m not sure. I didn’t get a picture of that one, and the pictures I’ve seen of green sea fern don’t look quite right.

Our next stop was the Barking Crab docks, and this is where we found the creepier (and more interesting) creatures. I pulled several muscles, some seaweed, a blob of bright orange, and a small crab from under one of the floating docks. Daniela, Sonja, Chris and I observed several species living on the muscles and in the seaweed. Here’s what I think I’ve identified:

Blue Muscles – though they were pretty well covered, the muscles we found appeared to be blue muscles.

Orange Sheath Tunicate – this was the orange blob I pulled out. Looking closely I could see that it was orange because of the tiny roundish orange structures that were inside a jelly like substance. Each of the round orange cells had a tiny spot on it that would have been the opening of tunicate.

Sea Pork – another orange tunicate, but this one had flower-shaped structures that were sparsely distributed.

Golden Star Tunicate – There were several star-shaped tunicates that I would have thought were different species but may just have been a variant of the Golden Star.

White Crusts – I’m not really sure of this one. I saw three different whitish crusty types of what I think were tunicates, but the description of this one most closely matches the one with distinct tubular structure. Unfortunately, it’s size range starts at 3 inches, so it may rule out any of the ones I observed (all of which were 1 to 2 inches or less).

Amphipods – Ok, so amphipods is not a species, but I was unable to identify the species of the two shrimp-like creatures we observed with yellow and black spotted and black and grey striped patterns. I am fairly certain that they are amphipods based on their overall look, their size, and the number of legs - 14 with the front two pairs thicker at the end (which are called gnathopods).

Skeleton Shrimp – I have no doubt that the longer, thin, shrimp-like (and sort of worm-like) creatures that had the look of a praying mantis were skeleton shrimp (which are actually amphipods).

Gulfweed Crab – the pattern on the small orange crab I found matches that of the gulfweed crab shown in the Peterson field guide. The size is off, but I’m not sure if that is because of how I measured my specimen ( I included outstretched legs). I measured it at 1 inch, where the guide indicates it grows up to ¾ of an inch. It’s close enough that I’m fairly confident this is the right species. 

Common Spider Crab – This was the ugly dark brown fella in the lobster trap with the round body and long arms.

Rock Crab – this was the large reddish-brown crab we saw in the lobster trap.

Northern Lobster – this was the lobster in the lobster trap. Of course.

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