Tag Archives: Organisms

Beach Love – There are So Many Treasures

 

The beach is such an AMAZING place where you can discover so many interesting things! From living organisms to unfortunately trash, I’m going to be talking about some of the most attention-grabbing things we find on our beach!

We get a lot of Algae that washes up on the beach. From the invasive sargassum that tends to wash up from our bay, to pieces of giant brown kelp, we see it all! We also find lots of different parts of algae, including the holdfast, stipe, and air bladders! Sometimes looking under the holdfast (which can pretty much have it’s own entire ecosystem, how cool!) we have found tiny sea slugs and sea stars!

Also washing up more recently in our bay are red pelagic crabs, otherwise known as tuna crabs! These mini looking lobster creatures end up floating around the ocean their entire lives! Unfortunately sometimes they wash up on our beach and become stranded! Our seagulls sure do love to eat them as a snack!

beach love

(Above: Tuna Crabs will wash up on our beach, sometimes by the hundreds!)

Lastly, we find many amazing seashells, sea glass, and really cool looking rocks! A lot of the seashells we find are the purple olive snails! We also find lots of sea glass, which comes in many different colors including white, brown, green, and blue! Sea glass is glass that ends up in the ocean and becomes textured and tumbled! Super beautiful and fun to craft with! The crazy amount of different types of rocks we find on our beach is also pretty diverse! On our beach you will find sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic, along with many other interesting types. Next time you head to a beach, maybe you can have your very own beach treasure hunt and see how many different cool things you can find!

beach appreciation

(Above: Seashells, Sea glass, and rocks that have all been found on our beach)

Written By: Brooke Fox

Meiophenomenal: Diversity of organisms within the Sand Sediment

Sand particles can range in size from 0.0625 mm (or ​116 mm) to 2 mm. Despite not being very large there is a whole diversity of an ecosystem within the sediment. Infauna are animals that can be found within these sand grains this differs from animals that live on the benthos or bottom ocean floor in that the infauna actually live within the sediment itself. There are several macrofauna that live within the sediment like the bobbit worms, worms eels, sting rays or take shelter in the sand or even camouflage in the sand. The sand acts as a perfect place to hide from predators or even ambush your prey. Bobbit worms live within the sand sediment and actively hunt fish hiding it’s 3 foot long body under the sand sediment and awaiting for a fish to trigger it. Most specimens of bobbit worms have been up to 3 feet long but some have been found to be even 10 feet! The sand can act as a pretty convenient habitat for a lot of organisms, but too see some of these organisms you have to look even closer.

sand

When you look at the sand even closer, it is revealed that there are even smaller animals that fit inside those small .0625mm to 2mm spaces. These animals consist of the meiofauna which can pass through a 0.5 to a 1mm mesh unharmed. Most of these animals consist of small invertebrates like polychaate worms, nemotodes, arthropods, platyhelminthes, other annelids, and more. The meiofauna are unique in that they have one of the highest species richness and abundance indices. Meiofauna serve as important food resource for deposit feeding animals. A lot of animals such as the sand bubbler crabs or sea cucumbers actively filter out meiofauna living with the sand sediment.

sand 2

Meiofauna also serve an important role for breaking down detritus and excrete nutrients that are used by phytobionts and bacteria making them very key for nutrient cycling in the marine ecosystem, determiners of ocean health and ecosystem functioning, and indicators of carbon cycling in the seabed. Because meiofauna are so highly diverse, they can also be key indicators for the effects of global warming on diversity. Studies in Antarctica, a place where rising temperatures show a major affect and change to the habitat, have shown a drop in diversity due to rising ocean temperatures.

sand 3

Despite being one of the most diverse, species rich, and abundant ecocsytems on the planet, the meiofauna are actually highly understudied. There is still so much more to know about them and so many more species to potentially discover. With rising ocean temperatures, meiofauna need to be studied before all of that diversity goes away and we must continue to do our part to take care of the ocean and be aware of how pollution from human can affect even the smallest of ecosystems.

Resources:

Sting ray

http://naplesherald.com/2016/06/03/talk-of-the-town-the-stingrays-shuffle/

Carbon Cycle

http://oceansjsu.com/images/exped_ecoystems/CO2_pump_hg.png

Meiofauna diversity image

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alexander_Kieneke/publication/260529354/figure/fig3/AS:296899480440839@1447797760980/Representative-meiofauna-of-Little-Cayman-Island-a-A-species-of-Nerillidae-Annelida.png

Meiofauna- life between grains

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW2f2medVXA&t=197s

BBCs Blue planet sand bubbler crab

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XJtq2d_lFs&t=12s

The Chordettes Mr. Sandman

Mp3

Smithsoian channel – bobbit worm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_7ByiYbCYM

Bobbit worm image

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5501bec6e4b02c9014d45223/t/566fb0139cadb6b279fc6b71/1450160148406/?format=750w

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