Monday, December 28, 2009

Take a ride with Adelita!

You have heard of Google Earth... now there is Google Ocean! Adelita was the first sea turtle to be tracked using satellite technology. Go to the blog below to watch videos of her travels around the Pacific Ocean. This technology will help scientists track other marine animals to better understand their behavior.

thank you !

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Flipper

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.

After measurements, scans, tracings, paintings and pictures it was finally time to remove the bones from the flesh. How might one go about that? By making flipper stew of course! An old bath tub was the boiling pot and the heat of the stew removed a large portion of the flesh surrounding the bones.

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,

Orca Project Coordinator

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hooded nudibranchs and their dance

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

The Grunt Sculpin eggs are hatching!

As an early Christmas present the sculpin eggs have been hatching in our tanks! We have put them in the brooding chamber with our baby octopuses. We have not successfully raised grunt sculpin eggs before but we are giving it another try with a new food source of decapsulated brine shrimp. Usually the brine shrimp have a hard capsule around them which makes it impossible for the babies to digest. Chrissy has been putting them through a bleach cycle to get rid of their capsule so that they are edible to our new babies! Check out the video of the baby below under the microscope!

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

Grunt Sculpin Eggs!

This weekend the Marine Exhibit was busy as the Thanksgiving crowds came to visit our animals. Although some of the tanks were empty, there was still plenty of entertainment. The octopuses were out and showing off, crabs were stealing food from sea stars and the first two grunt sculpin eggs hatched.

Grunt sculpin

Grunt Sculpins (Rhamphocottus richardsonii) are squat little fish with a long snout and spiny fins. They are called grunt sculpins because they actually grunt when taken out of the water! Grunt sculpins range from the Gulf of Alaska to Santa Monica Bay, California and are found in tidepools and shallow water. They only grow to be about 8.3 cm (3.3 in) long. They aren't good swimmers so they use their pectoral fins to crawl around on rocks and the sea floor. They like to hide in giant barnacle shells and the females will trap a male in a barnacle shell until he fertilizes her eggs. Unfortunately, not much is known about the life cycle or behavior of the adorable little fish. What are their predators? Does the male or female guard the eggs? What is their population size? Maybe someday I'll study them and become the definitive expert on grunt sculpins.

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.