Friday, July 21, 2017

Busytown

It was a busy day at the pier. Both Atlantis and Neil Armstrong were in port; a plankton research group was testing out a new glider; a part of the dock was being rebuilt. Trucks and cranes and people moved about on the bustling pier. Beeping and honking and shouts and loud bangs were heard all around.

Pier panorama. Neil Armstrong is to the left, Atlantis to the right.
A ctenophore, photographed by Nicole
Pittoors at the WHOI pier. 
Even the ocean was busy. As my intern and I knelt on the floating platform, reattaching fouling panels to their PVC backing, we couldn't help but notice the activity in the water. Tiny specks littered the surface, presumably the larvae of a species that had recently spawned. A large school of green minnows rushed back and forth, picking off the larvae as they swam. Two large, pink-and-blue fish swam slowly beneath, gliding and glinting in the light.

Strings of green eelgrass and brown puffy Sargassum floated on the sea surface, and then we spotted the star of the day: ctenophores.

Also known as comb jellies, ctenophores are fascinating creatures. Their bodies are made of mostly water, and they drift in the ocean with little control over their whereabouts. They have these rows of cilia called combs, though, which are totally unique to ctenophores. The combs can ripple and break up waves of light and look iridescent - they're very beautiful animals. It was a great day at the dock and another good week for my dock study!

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