Kat Allen (not a sea monster) after a successful plankton tow, heading back to the lab with a container of zooplankton.
Getting ready to view zooplankton under the microscope. Fresh zooplankton are often more colorful than preserved zooplankton. The preservatives we use to bring them home to study often causes the animals to loose their bright blue, green and yellow color. Having the opportunity to study them freshly captured is a real treat – allowing us to observe them in their close to natural state – how they look in the water, how they swim and how they react to light and shadows.
Getting ready to view the animals under the microscope. At the top, there is a pteropod that has eaten some copepods (look for the blue eggs). To the upper right is a live ostracod – you may only have seen them as closed shells, but they actually contain miniature crustaceans. A string of salp eggs looks like a pearl necklace. In the lower left corner is a part of a polychaete worm (photobomb!)
Sometimes we even catch fish in the nets as well. This fish is not a sea monster, it is actually called a hatchet fish, a deep sea dweller that has large eyes to see in the dark. This is actually a larval fish that is about 3 cm long, about 1/3 of it is the head at this stage.
One of the largest copepods in the ocean, Euchaeta sp., can be found in abundance in our samples. It is easy to find, because it carries a large set of blue eggs. Check out the dish picture and see if you can find one.
This funny looking animal is a pteropod, a type of mollusk (similar to a snail). The winglike structures protruding from its glass-like shell allow it to move through the water like a bird flapping its wings.
Not all things we find in the net are obviously animals. This small group of spherical shapes is actually a single-celled animal called a foraminiferan (“foram” is the nickname of this cute little blob).
One of the more unusual crustaceans we have been finding are these stomatopods, notable for having eyes that are on stalks that stand out from its head, looking out for hatchet fish probably.
Sometimes the copepods have ornamentation (feather like appendages) that cannot fit into one picture. These feathery tufts help the copepod to maintain its position in the water column and to avoid predators by pretending to be twice as long.
- Jarrod Scott and Adelaide Rhodes