Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life Finds a Way

The other day at Courageous Sailing Center was really fun because so many interesting and surprising things happened. We were checking our traps and we found all the fun stuff we usually find in them (like crabs, sea stars, tunicates, and small fish). However, we realized that we are not exactly sure how many traps we have put down at Courageous over the years, so we decided to check a couple of places where we assumed there was nothing on the end of the line.

Most of the lines were just tangled into a big not, some ended in buoys, but one line was really cool. It didn't have  a trap on the end, but it was covered in life. It was overgrown with tiny little mussels, some larger mussels, seaweed, tunicates, amphipods, and skeleton shrimp!

Crawling with life!

We pulled it out of the water and immediately saw that it was a habitat of it's own. It was like a small intertidal zone attached to the dock. The whole thing looked alive with the tiny creatures jumping around.

Skeleton shrimp are really cool too. I had never touched them before and it was weird to feel them sticking on to my hands with their little grasping appendages. They look like tiny marine stick insects.

Skeleton shrimp

Another cool thing we saw by the dock that we had never seen were crabs hiding in the cracks in the pilings of the pier. One of our sharp-eyed explorers saw that small crabs had gotten in there, probably at high tide, and stayed waiting until the tide rose again. We kept looking and found that there were crabs in every crack that was wide and deep enough to hold a crab or a few.

Can you see the tiny crab claws?

I think it just goes to show that there is always life in unexpected places when it comes to the ocean. Through millions of years of adaptation and evolution, animals have found ways to take advantage of every possible situation they might find themselves in. I thought we would have explored all there was to see around Courageous by the end of the summer, but there are always more mysteries to explore in the harbor.

Keep on exploring,

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