06/16/04 - Squishy hermit crabs
|Lat:||34° 09.3 min N|
|Long:||75° 54.1 min W|
It was another beautiful day at sea! We remained in the same general area so we were able to deploy several nets throughout the night. We used the Neuston net to sample the surface, and trawls to sample more deeply. By using nets at different depths we hope to gain a better understanding of how different species might interact with each other.
|Photo courtesy of NOAA|
The sub went down in the morning with Steve Ross and Tara Casazza. They took several sediment samples and collected a large sunstar as well as a goosefish. The afternoon dive included Ken Sulak and Cheryl Morrison. In addition to collecting a purple seastar and some coral, they retrieved two buckets we had to leave behind last year when the weather became too bad to recover them. The buckets had been stocked with rotten oysters and the original intent was to leave them down for 24 hours to see what came to dine. Instead we had to leave them behind for almost a year. Needless to say, the oysters had been completely eaten, but we did find some interesting crabs and starfish hiding in the empty oyster shells.
In between dives we pulled an otter trawl behind the boat. This trawl brought up an interesting variety of creatures. In the picture to the right you can see Martha Nizinski, our invertebrate specialist from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), sort the catch. There were hundreds of tiny shrimp, as well as several extremely large ones that measured approximately 10 inches (25.4 cm) from the tip of their rostrum (nose or beak) to the end of their tail. The large shrimp had either blue or purple splotches across their backs.
We also found some very interesting hermit crabs. When we first picked them up we noticed how squishy the shells felt. It turns out that the "shell" was really the body of an anemone. The anemone covers the hard snail shell the hermit crab lives in and slowly dissolves the shell away so eventually, the anemone becomes the hermit crab's shell.
Our nets also snagged some slimy hagfish which are scavengers that feed on dead animals. They produce great quantities of slimy goo and have another name, "slime eels".
We are now steaming south to the area where we hope to rendezvous
with some special guests aboard the R/V Cape Fear from
the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (UNCW).
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