Sunday, July 19, 2020

One man's trash is another man's treasure!

Hi guys!

After a successful first week on Castle Island and a great fishing trip aboard the Belle with Captain Charlie (3 flounders and a pogie boated in our rain-shortened outing!) #TeamLuke spent this week at Revere Beach. We spent the week putting together a scavenger hunt about Boston's wastewater and stormwater systems, marine life in the harbor, and how having a clean harbor keeps that marine life around. On Wednesday, after looking for marine life to discuss in our scavenger hunt for a few hours, we began to notice how much trash we found on the beach... so we decided to do something about it by doing a trash cleanup the following morning! 

Our group was able to pick up 5 mostly full bags of trash, which was super rewarding! An additional rewarding aspect of the morning for me came from an interesting interaction I had with a beach-goer during our cleanup. I was approached by a very friendly gentleman who commended us for helping clean the beach, but wondered why we weren't picking up the "plastic stuff that looks like plungers" that was covering the beach. I explained to the gentleman that the "plastic plungers" weren't actually plastic at all, but were actually moon snail "sand collars". These interesting structures are grey circles that are often found along Boston Harbor beaches in the summer, and are formed from a mixture of snail "goo" and sand. The structures harden and moon snails lay their eggs on the underside of the "plunger". It took some convincing, but I think the gentleman eventually believed me that the "sand collars" weren't actually harmful. I was glad to make someone feel better about the cleanliness of their home beach!

While I have knowledge about certain marine life we found like moon snails and oysters, I was also psyched to find some stuff on the beach that I knew basically nothing about! For example, at one point, we found the carapace of a crab laden with pink speckles. After researching the pattern a little, I was able to figure out that the crab was a Lady Crab (Ovalipes ocellatus), an aggressive, carnivorous crab species found between Canada and Georgia on the eastern seaboard. I also found out that Lady Crab's have modified back legs shaped like paddles that are used for swimming, much like the Blue Crab commonly found further South. My next goal is to find a live Lady Crab at some point this summer (and to avoid getting pinched by it!). 

Next week we are at Fort Point Channel and we get to use the underwater drones! I am super excited for that and will check back in soon!

See ya on the sand, 

Example of a moon snail "sand collar"

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