Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A tale of two experiments

My fouling panels today - empty
Early this morning, I pulled on my rain pants and my field boots. I strode across the street, through the open gate, and onto the WHOI dock. It was time to check my experiment.

I had set aside the entire day for it. I was expecting to spend hours at the microscope, examining the new recruits to my fouling panels. I was looking forward to counting and identifying little juvenile animals all afternoon.

Kneeling on the dock, I loosened the knots that held my fouling panels in place. I tugged the lines free and lifted up the PVC sheet that holds them. I laid the PVC on the dock. And I saw...nothing.

That's right; my panels were empty. I had exactly one recruit (a hydroid) on the 30 panels I examined today. Now, I know the lack of recruitment wasn't a mistake, for two reasons. First, the panels did have some detritus (organic dirt) on them, evidence that they had been underwater the whole time since I deployed them two weeks ago. Second, my monitoring plates also didn't get any recruits right away when I put them out in the fall. I thought maybe my fouling panels would get recruits faster, since it's now spring and more species should be reproducing, but I guess I'll just have to keep checking. I'll come back in another couple of weeks.

My monitoring plates today - hydroid city!
In an interesting twist, my monitoring plates were densely inhabited today! The fouling panels you see above and the monitoring plates you see here at left actually hang from the same dock. The only difference is that the plates at left were outplanted in November, while the panels above have only been out for two weeks. What a difference a couple of months can make!

There was less work for me to do today than I expected, but I suppose that was a blessing. I look forward to having results soon!

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