Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Baskets and Cephalopods

Baskets and cephalopods
by David P. Stein

Images provided by Samantha Cisk

            At first it was complete darkness except for the few lights attached to air tanks and thin beams of light striking down into the depts. Faint outlines of the structures below only hinted at what lay beneath. I had a small hand light and my dive partner George used one of those large portable spotlights. This was my first night dive in Bocas del Toro, Panama and I was more excited by what I couldn’t see, than by what I could. George gave me the signal and we started to descend into the murky darkness. Soon those amorphous shapes formed into branching coral, algae and shimmering silver looking fish (I later learned they do have color, though its not as well seen at night). My cone of light swept back and forth along the corrugated landscape giving me glimpses of fish as the fled my presence. Swimming over the reef I was distracted by George as he shined his light in front of me to get my attention. He directed me to the top of a coral mound and I saw the most confusing of images. A tangled web of small seastar like appendages were massed and woven around and around. A Basket star! (Seen to the right) Some limbs outstretched to capture food; it sat innocuously atop this coral feeding to its hearts content (not that it had a true “heart”). This went on much the same and we soon moved on to explore the rest of the dark ocean secrets.
            This was just one of the many friends we have made in the Three Seas program at in Bocas. Let me introduce you to “Frank” Pie  (the incurious cephalopod to the left); he is a resident of a 3-foot stretch of water front property (along the dock that we launch from for our morning dives) in prime real estate in Bocas. He loves sunbathing and matching the background (and I’m not entirely sure he is a he). Frank is about a 3-4 inch blob of limbs and eyes and the most activity I’ve seen out of him was slowly squishing his body into the tiniest of spaces. Octopi can change their shape and size and even color in a vast array that allows them to hid and protect themselves from a variety of predators. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Bocas, come to the Smithsonian institute and say hello to these two friendly marine animals.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Farewell to Nahant

This past week, the students of East West XXX finished up the Nahant portion of the program, and they head to Panama after the winter break. Thanks for the great semester, and have fun at Bocas, everyone!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Uptake this!

The final Marine Ecology lab of the semester was an evaluation of ammonium excretion by snails and uptake by seaweeds. One of the students made a movie of the lab, highlighting the fun that can be had while doing science:

That One Ecology Lab from Janine Ledet on Vimeo.

And then, as if that wasn't enough, the group presentation based on the ammonium lab featured a rap:

Nice work, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy from Space

This clip from the International Space Station beautifully demonstrates cyclonic flow.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welcome to East West XXIX

This year's Three Seas Program students arrived in Nahant just over two weeks ago. This morning, we were up early to survey seaweeds and invertebrates on the rocky shore at Canoe Beach Cove adjacent to the Marine Science Center.