Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Awash in the Seas of Life

Today was my first full day of training at the Seattle Aquarium. It was long, and therefore hard to stay focused all the time- but it was a lot of fun. I'm very looking forward to teaching and sharing and guiding, and I learned a good deal today as well- about specific organisms of the Puget Sound, and about certain general aspects of different organisms.

We first did a zooplankton "drop"- the first I've done in a long time. Actually, I'm used to trawls behind a ship, so this was a bit different, and came up with a much smaller sample, but one still Diatomswith many interesting organisms, including a miniature shrimp. With apologies for the videofeed, there is one swimming about below. There was also a phytoplankton drop, and I got to see my first diatoms in a long time, alive that is. Cute little glass buggers, I think.

Next to the TV-scope where they show the plankton is a "wetlab", with Seapens and California SeapenCalifornia Market Squid eggsMarket Squid eggs. (Yes, that's their actual common name. I'm not sure what they're most commonly used for though.) Seapens are colonial Cniderians, related to anemones and jellies. (Those are what we used to call jellyfish, but we dropped that a bit after we stopped calling seastars starfish. It's a PC thing, but frankly the lawsuits from the respective jellies and seastars weren't worth the hassle.)

Nudibranch & Sedentary PolycheatesAfter the plankton bit we spent the rest of the day on the best of God's creatures, the invertebrates, and I must confess my mind is now awash with too much information to process all at once. The nudibranch and sedentary polychaetes we looked at in the invertebrate survey were particularly interesting. Polychaetes may be worms, but they clearly demonstrate how beautiful a worm can be.
Jellies in the Jelly Donut

On the mainfloor is the "jelly donut", where the moon jellies continually swim in a generated circular current. I learned that there actually are a couple poisonous varieties of jelly in the waters of the Puget Sound- the Fried Egg and Lion's Mane Jellies, reaching up to eight feet in diameter with forty foot tentacles. They say confession is good for the soul, so let me also say I've spent a good half hour repeatedly watching this video in order to better understand their propulsion procedure. Go ahead- it's both fascinating and meditative!

AnemonesAnd for the kids, there's a wetlab, one-finger touch area, with anemone and seastars galore. I loved the clam (death) bed, the sad remains of many seastar lunches.


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Towards the end I took the opportunity to stand before the Pacific Rim display, remembering many old dear friends from Hawaii- clown triggerfish, parrotfish, blue tang (Dory), and a bit of a surprise...



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