P1030248

As a follow up to Chuck's and Maggie's descriptions of our diving operations (and as a tribute to Dio), I’m going to talk about today's dive. The weather has been fairly bad this month, more temperamental that I remember it being in April. But today we finally got to get away from station.

Jim4OvalSponge

Sea stars, also known as starfish (this latter term is a bit of misnomer considering they are certainly not "fish"), are common sea floor animals that are found in all the world's oceans. Most have five rays or arms, but others can muster as many as twenty-five to thirty as saw my previous "Unexpected Surprises" post. Their arms are lined with legions of tiny tube-feet that operate using a unique hydraulic plumbing system that squeezes water through tubes with tiny valves that open and shut. The tube-feet serve primarily for locomotion, but also play a role in food capture and sensing prey.

JulieMesocosm0
On Monday this week we built 18 mesocosm "universes" in the Palmer Station aquarium. That may sound a little out of this world, but let me explain. This week we started our mesocosm experiment, utilizing the relationship a large species of brown algae (the same big branched brown Desmarestia menziesii I mentioned in a previous post) and all of the amphipods on it. We created smaller simulated natural "community" assemblages from carefully collected Desmarestia. See the image right for my multple universes, complete with air lines and pH probes.

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Palmer Station Webcam