Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Shellebrating a Successful First Week on Site!

Hey again! 

For the rest of the summer, I will be working at the Black’s Creek site off of Wollaston Beach in Quincy 3 days a week. I am on site with Damani, Che, Aidan, and Tessa, and we had a great first week on site. I think we are working really well together and having a lot of fun! Because it was the week of the fourth of July, we only had a fraction of the kids that we would normally be working with for the rest of the summer, but the kids that did show up were really excited to get their hands dirty with us and learn about the critters in the creek. At Black’s Creek we caught a bunch of green crabs, snails, hermit crabs, little fish, and we actually found TWO horseshoe crabs in just the first week. It was so fun to see the kid’s faces when they caught something, or when they held the crabs for the first time. It was also awesome to see the kids become more comfortable and confident in what they were doing, whether they were interacting with their peers, the Save the Harbor Staff, or holding a crab. 

Teaching kids about the green crabs we caught and helping the brave ones hold them correctly!

Because the Black’s Creek site ends around noon every day, we finished two of our days at the Children’s Museum. We caught tons of green crabs there as well, and we actually caught a bass and a spider crab too which was so cool. The parents and the kids walking by loved looking at the different animals we caught, and some people were brave enough to hold them too! 

My favorite species that we saw this week were the Spider Crab and the Horseshoe Crabs! Here’s some cool things I found about them--

Horseshoe crabs are actually older than dinosaurs, being around for over 300 million years. They are very closely related to scorpions and spiders. Female horseshoe crabs are usually bigger than male horseshoe crabs, females usually growing to 18.5 inches and males about 14.5 inches. The horseshoe crabs can be found in the United States in the Atlantic Ocean along the North American coastline, the east and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans on the coast of Asia. Each location has a different species of horseshoe crabs. The Horseshoe crab eats at night and it usually eats worms and clams, and sometimes even algae. The Horseshoe crab is actually a Keystone species in the Delaware Bay ecosystem which means that all of the other species in that ecosystem rely heavily on the Horseshoe crab because the Horseshoe crab provides ecosystem services and many species rely on the Horseshoe crab eggs for their feeding. 

This is me holding the spider crab at the Children's Museum!

After doing some research, it looks like we caught a Common Spider Crab outside of the Children’s museum. Male Spider Crabs can often grow up to be four inches wide on their carapaces which is their upper shell, and their legs can grow up to a foot! When we caught the spider crab, it had tons of ocean algae and sand on its shell which made it feel very slimy. I found out that the Spider Crabs actually have hairs on their backs to collect algae and other organisms in order to camouflage with the ocean floor. Spider Crabs are very slow and weak in their claws so their ability to camouflage is critical to their survival. Spider crabs feed on a great variety of organisms, with seaweeds and mollusks dominating in winter, and sea urchins and sea cucumbers in summer.The species the common Spider crabs can be found in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean sea. Many people in different countries catch the Common Spider Crabs and they are eaten and sold commercially. 

Our biggest catch of the week: A Che! Ha!

This first week out in the field was such a blast. I am looking forward to working more closely with my coworkers at Black’s Creek, and also getting out to the Curley next week in the afternoons as well. So far, everything has been far better than I could have hoped for, and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer. 

Catch ya later!

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