Monitoring at MacMillan Wharf, Provincetown, MA

Monitoring at MacMillan Wharf, Provincetown, MA
Marine Invasive Species (MIS) Monitoring at MacMillan Wharf, Provincetown, MA.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Helpful Monitoring Accessories

At the beginning of the summer, I got supplied with the usual set of monitoring supplies: Clipboard, Thermometer, Refractometer, Collection Trays, and a Pocket 6X Magnifying Glass.  I was all set, but when I arrived out in the field, the 6X magnification left me poorly equipped to make species determinations of the colonial species, and it was also difficult to distinguish the red bryozoan Bugula neritina from some filamentous red algae.  Back at home, under the stereomicroscope, I could easily make species determinations magnifying specimens 20-40X.  It was then that I realized I needed magnifiers at this range of magnification.
Off I went to the internet and found a terrific line of magnifiers at Amazon.  I purchased several, but the jeweler's loupes were the most helpful.  Some magnifiers are made for viewing details of photographs and the plane of focus is right against the glass, but the jeweler's loupes are designed to be held away from the subject and this feature keeps the lens clean and dry in the field.  

30X Jeweler's Loupe Magnifying Glass

The 20X, 30X, and 40X lenses are now permanent supplies in my monitoring bag; however I'd say that I use the 30X lens the most.  I use the 20X when I need a wider field of view and the 40X for the smallest details.  Nonetheless, I've used all of them on my most recent trips. 

Don't depend on these magnifying glasses to help much in image documentation, however.  Feeling in an adventurous spirit, I tried taking an iPhone photo of a small Botryllus schlosseri colony growing on Ulva.  I held the 30X jeweler's loupe lens directly against the iPhone lens, and surprisingly, I was able to obtain focus through the lens.  However, I could not hold the specimen or camera steady enough to take a sharp, in-focus photo.  My best attempt is shown below - not bad for evidence but insufficient for documentation.  At least the Botryllus was fresh!

A Blurry Botryllus schlosseri growing on Ulva Sea Lettuce
Photo taken with a 30X jeweler's loupe held directly against the camera lens
 of an iPhone mobile device. Time to get a macro camera........

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Convergence or Coincidence?

A Lighthearted Comparison & Identification Aid
When identifying Botryllids, I frequently use the suburban housing development as a model for identifying Botrylloides.  This has been especially useful when the colonies are small or when the colors of Botrylloides violaceus and Botryllus schlosseri are similar. The organization of zooids in each species is distinctly different, with Botryllus forming stars and clusters and Botrylloides forming meandering chains of zooids reminiscent of newly constructed southwest housing tracts.

Human Social Organization - Shared Roads and Utilities.
   Botrylloides Organization - Shared Excurrent Canals and Blood Channels

It's fascinating when we see nature's designs show up in human social organization.  And somewhat validating, too, that we're all interconnected.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Marine Invasives Monitoring

My monitoring activities at Provincetown, Wellfleet, Salem, and Beverly Marinas are now completed for 2011 with the Species Reports for Ptown and Wellfleet sent off to the CZM and my marine biologic image collection significantly enlarged.  With 4 months of visits behind me, I obtained a nice selection of photographs of Massachusetts marinas and their marine invasive species (MIS).  After several of the trips, I was able to get brightfield microscopic images of colonial species within a few hours of their collection.  Fourteen of the sixteen species on the list in the August 8th Post were seen this season, all except the European oyster Ostrae edulis and leafy red alga Grateloupia turuturu.  Among the sessile or attached species, Didemnum vexillumStyela clavaBotrylloides violaceusBotryllus schlosseriDiplosoma listerianum, Ascidiella aspersaBugula neritinaMembranipora membranacea, and Codium fragile were commonly observed, whereas Diadumene lineata found a special niche in the Wellfleet Marina. 
The most dramatic event of the summer was the impact of Tropical Storm Irene which had a major erosive impact and removed most of the species that were not strongly attached or that extended out from the docks.  My visits to Cape Cod occurred 2-3 days after the storm, and the storm currents cleared away much of the overgrowth and removed some of the species down to the substrate. 
Perhaps the most impressive and beautiful species to my eye was Botrylloides violaceus, whose bright orange colors could be seen by casual observation walking on the docks and which looked even more beautiful up close when the meandering rows of zooids and their surrounding ampullae could be clearly observed.

Botrylloides violaceus in Clear View at Low Tide on a Pier Piling
 at Fisherman's Wharf, Provincetown, MA
The green alga Ulva lactuca grows above a band of orange Botrylloides violaceus. A colony of Didemnum vexillum can barely be seen below the Botrylloides.

Botrylloides violaceus Orange Colonies on the Sides of Dock Floats
View of the side of a dock at MacMillan Wharf, Provincetown, MA. Looking through the hazy water, light-orange, orange, brick-red-orange, and purple-red-orange color variants of Botrylloides can be distinguished. Also present were mature Mytilus edulis and Styela clava.

Botrylloides violaceus Colonial Organization 
Botrylloides colony showing meandering rows of zooids with open branchial siphons separated by clear tunic containing a border of amplullae.  3X zoom x 10X objective.

Botrylloides violaceus Zooids and Ampullae 
Orange color variant of Botrylloides showing branchial siphons, pigmented body wall, and pigmented ampullae between rows of zooids. Endostyle is in subtle contrast to body wall.
3X zoom x 10X objective.

Botrylloides violaceus Endostyle and Branchial Features
Light-orange color variant showing branchial tentacles and orange-pigmented endostyle against the more transparent body wall.  3X zoom x 10X objective.
Additional stereozoom micrographs of Botrylloides violaceus and other ascidians can be seen at