Another week as come and gone here at OIMB, and a lot has happened since writing my post last Thursday. Over the past weekend, all the interns and Maya joined with the other biology interns working at University of Oregon (in Eugene) to go camping and tide pooling at nearby Sunset Bay Park. It has been a long time since I’ve done any camping, and I’ve never gone tide pooling on the west coast before, so both experiences were fresh and new to me! The night spent in the tent was thrilling and cold, but ultimately restful.
The next day, early in the morning, we left to go to Cape Arago for the tide pools. That trip was amazing! The morning was cold and dark. Even though I was armed with boots and a delicate sense of balance, I still almost fell on my rear while exploring the pools of water hidden within the rocks during low tide. Inside these hidden habitats were purple sea urchins, various species of hermit crabs, some porcelain crabs, various anemones, and even an extremely large chiton! A chiton is a type of primitive mollusk, and this large specimen was called the gumboot chiton, and it happens to be the largest chiton species in the world! During the tidepool walk, we trekked higher up the rocks to get a better look at barnacles, oysters, and urchin dugouts. The view and the animals were amazing. I can’t imagine what it’s like to live as an urchin among those rocks full time!
During my work week, I hit a major snag in my previous barnacle cyprid project. After discussing it with Richard, I realized that my project idea wasn’t as feasible as I initially thought. Conducting microscopic surgery on a miniscule part of an already tiny organism would be too hard for me to accomplish during my time here at OIMB, and my other methods of staining and filming that body part also fell through. However, Richard suggested that I watched my various cyprid species swim around in a tall swimming tank. These observations, as well as a lot of reading of previous literature, helped give me a new project idea that was still related to cyprid anatomy and locomotion. I want to study the connections between locomotion and buoyancy of the various barnacle cyprid species that occur this time of year. Where this project will go specifically is still up in the air, but a newer, more feasible project has been chosen.
This past Monday, to work towards my new project idea, I read quite a bit of research on cyprid swimming behavior and cyprid distribution along the American west coast. Then, on Tuesday, I spent the day collecting cyprids of Balanus glandula and Balanus crenatus and then sat in front of the tank and watched them swim.
B. glandula swam beautifully in the tank for me, but B. crenatus was a lot less active for me. B. glandula swam up towards the light that shined on the surface of the swimming tank, and they swam in a chugging motion up to the surface of the water column. A lot of their motion involves a brief burst of speed up the water column, followed by brief sinking motion, then another burst upwards. B. glandula touched the surface of the water but would almost never break through the boundary between air and water. They would then sink down towards the middle of the water column, repeating the motion again. For B. crenatus, it was much harder getting them to swim. They would either ride a convection current up the water column, sink down to the bottom of the container, or hover with a jump-sink motion in the middle of the water column. More work needs to be done to measure their swimming speed, sinking rates, and buoyancy and to observe their swimming behavior to understand their overall distribution in the water column.