Friday, May 5, 2017

More interesting: part 2

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing." - German proverb

I was covered head-to-toe in waterproof fabrics. I wore my rain jacket, rain pants, and even my thick, hard-core field boots. Wheeling my formidable fat-tire bike out the door of the research building, I greeted the rain. It was now or never - if I wanted to go home, that is.

It's supposed to rain 2 inches (5 cm) all over Cape Cod tonight. Strong winds, coastal flooding - we're getting hammered. On my bike ride home, I had to cinch my hood around my face to reduce drag and lean my bike into the cross-shore wind to keep from tipping over. The waves on Trunk River Beach were the highest I've ever seen. My waterproof clothing shield was quickly covered in puddle splashes and salt spray, but I pressed on. Biking level: Expert. (For the record, the levels are Novice, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, Legendary, and Dutch.)
A spirorbid polychaete (tube worm) on my fouling panels.
Even though it's magnified 50x, it's still small in this
photo, demonstrating just how tiny these organisms are.
Scroll down to part 1 of this post and check out the barnacle
photo - both were taken at the same magnification, so you
can see just how great the size difference is! 

Considering the logistical difficulities today's storm brought, I was very glad to have curated my dock study yesterday. Every time I check the fouling panels, my study gets more and more interesting, and this week was no exception. I retrieved panels from Eel Pond and discovered ciliates, barnacles, and two new organisms - a spirorbid polychaete (tube worm), and a bryozoan.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll remember I talked about spirorbid polychaetes when I was studying recruitment in the Arctic. They live inside little calcium carbonate tubes and filter the water to feed. The species on my fouling panels now is actually one of the same species I found in the Arctic. Its distribution extends throughout the north Atlantic and even up to Svalbard - pretty cool, right?

The coolest thing about my dock study is that so far, the data I've collected fit my hypotheses perfectly. I expected the first organisms recruiting to my plates to be all hard-shelled, calcareous species - and that's exactly what I've found. I have a whole other set of hypotheses about how the communities will develop if I remove those calcareous organisms or leave them be, and I won't be able to tell if those predictions are true for another couple months. I'll keep collecting data every week and update you as I learn more. For now, I'm staying inside and out of the rain!

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