Monday, December 28, 2009
thank you www.seaturtle.org !
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The last few weeks have been filled with orca flipper field trips and adventures. My nose has become accustomed to new smells, my hands have touched pure orca flesh and my eyes have watered from the steam of flipper stew.
Up until recently CA-189's right flipper was being stored in a freezer at NOAA. Why freeze one flipper and nothing else? The reason was to have documentation of the location and arrangement of all the small bones found in the flipper. This will help greatly during articulation this spring.
Check out CA-189's right flipper x-ray and all the ladies displaying the results!
Although the bones were the main reason for the flipper freeze, it was suggested how great it would be to have documentation of the flipper itself. Measurements were taken and tracings made to document size and shape for possible future projects.
The flipper was covered with a unique variety of scratches. Many of these may have resulted from stranding, but others may have been acquired during her life. The other three AmeriCorps and I rolled up our sleeves and got down to business making a series of flipper prints.
All the flipper bones have been retrieved and are currently in the process of being cleaned.
Good-bye right flipper. Our time together has been smelly, messy and cold, but never greeted without a smile.
Here's to what's next,
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Hooded nudibranchs (Melibe leonia) have been popular around our dock the last few months. Also known as 'lion nudibranch' because of its mane-like feeding apparatus. Its hood is used as a feeding tool, embracing its prey like a net, catching small shrimp or crabs. They produce a sweet watermelon smell when taken out of the water!
Check out the video below to watch how they move. Its like a beautiful dance through the ocean.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Here is a video of a brine shrimp also known as "sea -monkeys." Here at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center brine shrimp is for breakfast lunch and dinner for our babies!
Enjoy the fun videos of the babies!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Keeping an eye on the eggs
You can come see these cute fish and all our other animals December 26th and 27th and January 2nd and 3rd.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
If you have been listening to the news lately you will have heard that there have been massive sea bird kills from the California coastline all the way up to Washington in from September to early November. The culprit... microscopic phytoplankton in large numbers named Akashiwo sanguinea. Phytoplankton blooms are common and normal in nature when extra nutrients are being turned up. "The interesting thing about this particular dinoflagellate is that when it is churned up in heavy surf the hard outer shell breaks open releasing a surfactant that is then whipped up into essentially a coastal bubble bath" (Penelope Chilton, Research Coordinator for COASST). The bubbles make it impossible for birds to preen and soon their skin gets wet and they beach themselves and die of hypothermia. (Photo by Valerie Lindborg)
Akashiwo sanguinea (from our Sound Toxins lab) A beached loon with foam (Picture from National Geographic)
Well I hope you learned something about sea foam! People are helping locally in every way they can to help these birds and get them back into the wild check out the other news articles:
Thanks for reading!
Lab Coordinator at PTMSC
Friday, November 6, 2009
This week Libby, several devoted volunteers and myself created a set of 46 false teeth for our orca skeleton. These false teeth or "orca-dentures" (another clever term toss around) will be on display in the mouth of our articulated orca skeleton due to be on display later this spring. Why false teeth instead of real ones? It turns out killer whale teeth, when dried out, become very frail. Pieces can begin to flake off and even shatter. Also, returning the teeth to NOAA allows them to be studied in further detail. Although we know "Our Whale" is a mature female, the exact age has yet to be determined; also further knowledge about her diet can be learned through teeth analysis.
photo by: David Plude
photo by: David Plude
By the time we reached the next step we had an article in the local paper and had become professional mold makers! Step 2-Teeth casting. Once our molds had set for the required 24 hour period we began the task of removing the teeth from the molds. Once teeth were removed we put on our mad scientist gear (goggles and gloves of course) and headed outside. The chemicals being used to create our casts were toxic and ventilation was a must!
Lucky for us the epoxy used for casting only needed to sit for 30 minutes. It was great to see the results of our work so quickly. Every single mold created nearly identical casts! Results prove what great volunteers we had this week at the workshop.
By Friday we reached our final step. Step 3- Teeth painting. Painting teeth was a change of pace from the rest of the week. It allowed us to express ourselves artistically and also just enjoy talking with one another around the table.
By the end of the afternoon session Friday we had created 46 false teeth for "Our Orca". The work done this week was flawless! Several observers have already looked at the teeth and replied, "wait those aren't the real teeth? They look so real".
I want to thank everyone who came and helped out this week. The Port Townsend Marine Science Center really does have amazing, passionate and devoted volunteers! Thanks for feeding me your knowledge and welcoming me into your community.
What can I say, I've got the orca fever!
Heather, Orca Project Coordinator
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Jonathan feeding the eelgrass tank
Angela with the whale skull.
We will miss them!
Julia, Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Yesterday we emptied out the eelgrass tank- it was quite the adventure! After safely removing the animals and eelgrass, we drained the water and I suited up in rain gear, climbed into the tank and carefully scooped out all the shells that had been covering the bottom. While in the tank I took a moment to imagine what life had been like for all those gunnels, pipefish and tube snouts during the long summer months. Fortunately I had less people staring at me than they did...
After the shells were all taken care of, we rinsed the walls and I set to work scrubbing out all the patches of algae clinging to the walls. Finally we rinsed the tank again, used a bilge pump to drain the remaining water and Julia mopped up the rest!
The tank looks so empty now!
In the coming weeks we'll be emptying out the other tanks in the cluster as well as the piling tank. Julia and I will be spending many hours this winter buffing out all the scratches that have accumulated during the year.
Even though our eelgrass tank is down for the season, you can still learn all about the important role of eelgrass meadows in the near-shore ecosystem on our website:
You can even download a coloring poster to decorate your wall in classy eelgrass style!
And hey- it was just one more reminder that being an AmeriCorps here at the PTMSC is pretty darn AWESOME:
Thanks for reading!
Monday, November 2, 2009
The Marine Exhibit is now closed (except for special Holiday weekends), but exciting things are still happening in the salty water. This Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) was releasing her eggs on Sunday afternoon. Usually these crabs lay eggs between spring and fall so this one is a little late.
Male dungeness crabs only will mate with females that have recently molted, the female will keep the sperm until her eggs are fully developed. After the female releases the eggs they will go through a series of free floating planktonic stages, molting, changing and growing for up to a year, they then settle to the bottom as little crabs and begin their rough life in the ocean! At about 4 or 5 these species can weigh 2-3lbs and measure 6.5 inches across. If they can escape traps long enough they can also live up to 13 years!
Make sure to come back to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center in the spring to catch some more egg laying action by our resident crabs and other animals!
Thanks for reading!
PTMSC Lab Coordinator,
check out the resources:
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Although they were off in the distance towards Whidbey Island we were able to see them clearly with the binoculars- several dorsal fins, a few breaches and even a spy-hop. While we observed we were able to listen to them vocalize on our hydrophone (underwater microphone) here at the center. If you are out on the pier go behind the center and listen to what is happening live.
You can also listen live online at http://www.orcasound.net/. Scroll down the page and click on Listen to Port Townsend Marine Science Center. Vocalizations from Wednesday should be posted soon, but you can listen to prior recordings right now!
Currently several organizations, Orca Network, the Whale Museum, Beam Reach, SMRU Ltd. and our very own Port Townsend Marine Science Center are assisting in a project tracking the travels made by the Southern Resident killer whales in Admiralty Inlet. Hydrophones are being used to record vocalizations made at different depths in the Inlet. This information assists researchers in understanding the depths orcas dive. Snohomish Public Utility District will reference data collected in this study while making decisions on a potential plan to build underwater turbines in the Inlet. These turbines would use tidal currents to produce energy for use throughout the Puget Sound. For more information on PUD's project check out their website http://www.snopud.com/powersupply/tidal.ashx?p=1155.Seeing killer whales in the wild is such an amazing experience! The project above needs your help reporting sightings. If you are lucky enough to spot orcas please immediately call 1-866-ORCANET or e-mail sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can even receive updates on sightings via e-mail by signing up at http://www.orcanetwork.org/.
Good Luck spotting orcas!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Here is a short video of the larva inside of the egg.
Ruby laid her one to two thousand eggs on June 23rd and has been guarding them and blowing water on them to make sure they are well oxygenated since then. Although she came to our aquarium in March, she delayed the fertilization and laying of her eggs until she was secure and comfortable in her tank. Octopus rubescens are notoriusly hard to raise in captivity, but we will try to feed them artemia (brine shrimp) and see if we can be one of the first to raise them! I have to keep reminding myself that the reason many marine animals lay hundreds of eggs is that most of them will not make it to adulthood. Octopus are dedicated mothers and won't even eat while caring for their eggs. After she has witnessed her eggs hatching, Ruby will die.
Here is one of the newly hatched larva. This octopus hatched as I was moving the sample eggs to a petri dish. You can see the round yolk sac near the short tentacles.
We'll be sure to keep you posted on this unfolding drama. If you come by please ask us about these new babies, but remember that Ruby may still be in seclusion.
See you soon!
Chrissy McLean, Marine Program Coordinator
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Science Center. This morning we got a call from the office saying that a squid had washed up on the Adelma Beach on Discovery Bay. Since we were unsure of its size, we got suited up with gloves & boots and got lots of garbage bags! We were told it was a Humboldt squid which can get up to 7 feet long so Jess and I were prepared for a large one! This one was pretty dense and roughly 5 feet from tentacles to the tip.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
In this photo she is still hiding in her bucket after we got the round tank ready for her. Pinky was curious and went to go have a look at her new friend. It took us a while to "octopus-proof" the round tank. We had to remove all the large fish and make sure she couldn't slip out the outflow tube. We fashioned a little mesh cap to put over the outflow tube so she couldn't get in there. Octopuses are extremely strong, so we had to put zip-ties around the mesh cap to make sure she couldn't pull it off!
Now we have two octopuses to name! Be sure to come see her soon in the Marine Exhibit!
Your friendly cephalopod lover,
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center just received a baby Pacific Giant Octopus from the SPU lab at Fort Casey. She is currently a little bigger than a golf ball and settling into her new habitat quite nicely. In fact, posted below is a video of her catching a shore crab in her new tank!
The Pacific Giant Octopus (Enteroctopus dolfleini) is one of the largest octopi in the world, growing over 9 meters in length and weighing over 45kg at full maturity. Like vertebrates, octopi have both long and short term memories. They are also very smart and may learn to solve problems (like getting food out of a closed jar) by trial and error, experience, and perhaps by observational learning. Once the problem is solved they are able to solve it and other similar problems repeatedly. Another fascinating fact about octopi (and Cephalopods) is their ability to change color. Special pigment cells (chromatophores) in the skin are activated and consist of three bags containing different colors that can be adjusted individually, to change the octopus to its desired color pattern. Coloration often reflects the mood of the octopus but it also greatly used for camouflaging with its environment.
Come by the PTMSC and see her! Though she may be a little shy.
Your friendly Marine Scientist and PTMSC Fall Intern,
Information found from:
Friday, September 18, 2009
The split at the back of the carapace has just begun.
A little farther along.
The crab now has its legs out.