Tide Pools

I am really tired. Soaking wet from knee to foot. Hair all over the place.

Today, my class and I went on a community service learning trip to the Fitzgerald marine reserve. Our science teacher trained us to identify the different animals and algae in the tide pools. She even gave us a quiz on it! We memorized 32(16 animals and 16 algae) different organisms that were located on the beach, from an Ochre Star(pisaster ochreaus) to Stunted Turkish Towel(Mastocarpus spp.).

When we got there, we had to take a detour because the more direct route had sea lions giving birth and it would be terrible to disturb them. The tide pools were like an obstacle course; you had to find your way through the huge boulders and make sure not to smush the living organisms. It was very easy to slip and fall in the water.

We divided into groups to count the amount of organisms. We laid a 5X5 quadrats over a section in the rope line that started from the swash zone to the cliffs. The most amount of organsims we found were turban snails, they were everywhere: in the water, land, deep parts of the ocean.

Turban Snails.

The most interesting organisms that I think that I found was the purple sea urchin and the ochre star. We found 2 ochre stars. One camoflauged, chilling on a rock. Another one was orange, probably shwoing a sign of venom to predators. The purple sea urchin was pokey and of you poke at it too hard, it can shoot out its spine and poke your skin, which is really painful to pull out. The reason why I was interested by the purple sea urchin is because I saw a seagull pick one up and repeatedly drop it so that it would crack open. You can find a video of a seagull doing it here.

Purple Sea Urchins and Ochre Star

However, another organism made me really interetsed. There were two main types of sea anemones, giant green and sunburst. They have incredible relfexes, just by tapping at it, the anenomes would close up really quickly. I decided to experiment with the anenomes and fed a sunburst anemone. It gulped it up really quickly, closing and folding its body over.

The purpose of identifying all these animals is not just for fun. With global warming, sea levels are rapidly rising. This may cause species to travel up higher into the tide pools. Monitoring along the transects can help identify the change in distribution of species. My school partnered with a program called LiMPETS to help make this one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience happen. This was a great opportunity for me and my classmates, I am really glad that I was able to go on this field trip.



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