Thursday, January 5, 2017

Time for science

Friends, I am back in my office and ready for some science! I've been restricted to working on my laptop the last two weeks, so I took the opportunity to do some non-computer things today.

Tubularia in a dish of seawater under the microscope.
First of all, I visited my monitoring plates at docks around Woods Hole. These are settlement plates I had built and outplanted over the winter just to see what might recruit where, and to practice identifying those recruits. Well, as it turns out, not much actually settles on docks in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in the late fall and winter (which I kind of expected). My monitoring log for November and December was very boring.

Today, though, I actually found a few individuals! At one site, there were a handful of what looked like red-tipped rose buds to me. I wasn't sure what they were, so I scraped a cluster off with my fingernail and took it back to the lab. No sooner had I dropped the sample into a dish of seawater than I realized what it was: an athecate hydroid named Tubularia. The hydroid's tentacles uncurled slowly, showing their arrangement in inner and outer circles, which is characteristic of the genus. Tubularia and other hydroids use their tentacles to capture small food particles in the water. I think they're very beautiful.

4' x 8' sheets of lexan take up a lot of the lab!
My second non-computer task today was a bit less beautiful. Before going away for the holidays, I had ordered sheets of lexan to build more settlement plates out of (my experimental design requires a lot of settlement plates). Well, the lexan was delivered! It is in 4' x 8' sheets, which, if you're wondering, are quite large. Half-the-lab-floor large. Block-my-office-door large. Yep.

I'm going to cut up the lexan into 15 x 15 cm squares (aka settlement plates) as soon as possible. It will require a table saw and likely one person besides myself to manage the unwieldy sheets. I'm looking forward to it, though! It will be a good change from office work and mark one more step toward my experiment this spring.

Onward, my friends! For science!

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