Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Visitors

Shrimp, up close and personal. 

After being at site for about seven weeks, I was feeling confident in my ability to predict the types of sea critters we would catch. The usual day at Piers Park is composed of catching green crabs, red rock crabs, lobsters, and on a few occasions, spider crabs and sea stars. But, this week brought a few new visitors to our East Boston site. The first new catch was a shrimp! Our normal hotspots for baby crab catching are mussels pulled up from the side of the dock; however, this time our net came up with a European Shrimp. It was a new find for a majority of the Harbor Explorers and the summer staff, and led to some good questions about shrimp biology and facts. This particular species is actually a non-native species in the Massachusetts Bay, and it provided a perfect opportunity to talk about other non-native species that we find more commonly.

 Our second set of visitors appeared suddenly and in large numbers. When we arrived on the dock Tuesday morning, one of the Harbor Explorers pointed out a jellyfish floating near the surface of the water. As we scanned the surrounding areas, we noticed that there were actually a good handful of jellies swimming around. We managed to catch one and put it in a Tupperware for a closer look. Using our hand-dandy field guide, we decided that it was most likely a type of comb jelly (a non-stinging animal). The kids were disgusted and amazed by how gelatinous the jellies actually were and they loved trying to pick them up.

Jellyfish invasion! 
The following day, we were welcomed by an even larger presence of jellyfish – this time a mixture of comb jellies and moon jellies. And now they were everywhere! No longer worried about any potential stings, the Explorers courageously hung over the side of dock and tried to nab any passing jelly. I think that if it had been an option, our Explorers would have stayed there all day catching jellies. A couple of the Sailing Center staff members told us that every once in awhile they see jellies in the water, but its not too common and they don’t know what causes these random outbursts.

Just goes to show that you never know what a day on the Boston Harbor will bring!

-Sarah C

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