“Look at your fish!”

When a student went to study under the famous scientist Louis Agassiz, Agassiz tried to get him to describe his fish:

“Oh, look at your fish!” he said, and left me again to my own devices. In a little more than an hour he returned, and heard my new catalogue.

“That is good, that is good!” he repeated; “but that is not all; go on”; and so for three long days he placed that fish before my eyes, forbidding me to look at anything else, or to use any artificial aid. “Look, look, look,” was his repeated injunction.  (from “In the Laboratory With Agassiz,” by Samuel H. Scudder)

We went to Sucia Island and we looked.  We looked at the rock cliffs:

Ross looking for fossils Ross looking for fossils.

We looked at boulders:  Mike studying Nucella Mike studying Nucella

We looked under rocks: Brit trying to identify an mostly hidden invertebrate. Brit trying to identify a marine invertebrate.

And when looking wasn’t enough, we photographed to document what we were seeing:

Megan Megan photographing a tidepool.   Emily Emily doing likewise.

And sometimes even photos weren’t enough and only a video would do:

fhl-13 Mike videoing Nucella.

I failed my look test.   My research project is on the interaction of Nucella and Balanus (?)  as it relates to tides.  On my first pass across the intertidal shelf, I was looking for fossils and not barnacles and whelks.  Emily mentioned a boulder full of Nucella and Balanus and so I returned and looked. And sure enough when I looked, there was Nucella among the Balanus.

Nucella and Balanus

And when I looked closer there were even Nucella eggs.  I wonder if Balanus knows the eggs of its main predator are touching it.  At last Tuesday’s talks, one researcher had studied the ‘fear response.’ Does Balanus sense when a Nucella is moving through choosing its next meal? Is it like a fly caught in a spider’s web knowing that it is doomed?  Some anenomes have been know to break off their holdfast and ‘swim’ away when a predator nudibranch is close by.  Alas, the poor barnacle has no such option.

Nucella eggs

Nucella and Balanus, I will know you much better before the quarter is over, but knowing your emotions will have to wait for another day.

nucella at Yellow Island Nucella on Yellow Island (a different species?)

The Sucia trip and the Ulva lab on Thursday are the beginning teachings of what it truly means to look.

Phil Green

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