Friday, April 5, 2013

The New World of Invertebrates

The steep hike down to Boiler Bay
Collecting specimens at Strawberry Hill
We started off Wednesday and Thursday with lectures about the unique characteristics of invertebrates common to the Oregon coast. And now time for a new adventure! Off to Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill to collect some of the invertebrate about which we've been learning. Everyone was on the lookout for an invertebrate called the by-the-wind-sailor (Vellela vellela). This species can look like an alien to an everyday-passerby on the beach, but it's actually a free-floating colony of polyps. With a brilliant blue color and a sail that catches the wind, these organisms move around the ocean and sometimes get stranded on the sandy beaches. Only some of these creatures accidentally end up on our beaches.  It's all based on what direction their sail faces. Half of these ocean sailors have a sail turned to the right and the other half have a sail turned to the left. Thus, the same wind sends them in opposite directions. Unfortunately for us, we didn't bump into any of these on our travels (good for Vellela vellela).
(photo source)
We did find some other great ones though! Some of our favorites that we found were:
Giant Green Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica)
(photo source)

 Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula )
Cool photo by Josh!

and the Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)
(photo credit)

After we brought these organisms to their new home back in our lab, we spent some time identifying and drawing them. We're making lab notebooks about the critters we found with pictures and the interesting information about them. It's a lot of fun being able to see the organisms we're learning about in person. Another two great days at Hatfield!

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