the latest in a series of marine events

Thursday night we went down to False bay to check out some intertidal organisms.  Since low tide is in the middle of the night, we were departing at 10 and getting back around 1.  I was a little worried about being late because I went to play ball at the high school gym but a nice dude named Justin gave me a ride back to the labs just in time.  Passed by Meggan and Aubrie as I went up to get my flashlight and they had this pretty intense baseball-bat looking object that was apparently used for collecting samples.  Never got to see it in action though because I spent most of my time near Emily, Moose, Jessica, Kelly, Phil and Sarah.  Everybody else started ranging out, the flats were pretty extensive.  Flashlights were bobbing around and the moon was bright enough to cast some shadows.  When we got there Emily gave a talk about how we were mostly there to observe and then just turned us loose.  Jessica and I paired up and set off to see what we could find.  I think the first thing we found was a worm that made a U shaped burrow in the mud.  One end had the excrement mounded up in a neat little pile and the other end was an entrance  (we later learned in lecture that this design is optimal for flushing water through one end and out the other, creating a constant current as the tide surges in and out the burrow).  I can’t remember all the scientific names of the worms we found, but there seemed to be 3 main types.  One was described to us as a “voracious predator worm” and apparently eats all the other types of worms and some of the barnacles as well.  I see these predators but never get to see them in action.  Jessica also managed to find this massive crab that was just sleeping under the mud too.  She had a knack for finding things, I definitely would have just passed it on by.  We dug it up and washed it off with water to get a better look at it.  Luckily people more knowledgeable than us were there to warn us about the claws.  Apparently they’ve got enough force to take off your finger and I’m glad that somebody mentioned that because I definitely did not give it enough credit when we pulled it up.  I just don’t think about things like that at the time, but now that I do it makes sense.  Crab claws have been evolving for hundreds of thousands years to do exactly that, provide a defense against inquisitive digits that get too close.  Once we had finished examining him, we buried him with sand again to keep him warm/safe.  I wonder how he breathes under all that mud.

We headed back around 12:30 after the initial excitement had worn off and people began to feel the bite of the wind.  Jessica had a hole in her boot and had to deal with seawater in her foot all night, I don’t know how she did it. Trooper. I was plenty cold and I had two working boots.  Mental note for when I next have to wear my gloves: they lack insulation and should be paired with wool mittens for optimal comfort.  Thats all for now, cheers




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