Monday, November 19, 2007

Wallops Island Organisms

I spent the summer at The Marine Science Consortium at Wallops Island taking summer classes for Shippensburg University in the marine sciences. While down there, I kept a photographic log of the organisms I collected. Here are a couple...
(Click on picture for larger view!!!)

Common Name: Mantis Shrimp
Scientific Name: Squilla empusa
Location: Shallows off of Tom's Cove
Description: This shrimp is not in fact a shrimp at all. It is a crustacean of the class Malacostraca. They are typically found in the shallows of the central to southern intercostal areas. They are light purple with iridescent colors around the entire body. They have very unique bi-lobed eyes that move independently on one another, which look amazingly iridescent in light.
This fascinating organism is most well known for the blinding speed of its mantis-like front claws (shown tucked under its body to the left). The claws have a whipping speed of 10 meters per second!!! This is enough to slice a fish in half, lacerate a human hand, and break double pained aquarium glass.
These organisms typically burrow in muddy substrate, and are mostly nocturnal, which makes them very difficult to find. They prey on crabs, fish, and other mantis shrimp. They can grow up to 10 inches in length. Mantis shrimp at this size are often harvested for consumption and are considered a delicacy.
(Click on picture for larger view!!!)
Common Name: Striped Burrfish
Scientific Name:Chilomycterus schoepfi
Location: Shallows off Tom's Cove
Description: This spiky organism is another incredible organism found in Tom's Cove. This fish resembles a puffer fish, however it is not. They have spikes covering most of their body that are always erect, unlike their close cousin the porcupine fish. They have the ability to inflate with water giving them an excellent defense against predators.
They move in a very unique fashion, using their pectoral fins for locomotion, and their tail as a ruder. This is unlike most fish that ungulate their entire body for locomotion. This strategy gives them very accurate side and backwards mobility without traveling forward. In the wild they use their powerful beak-like jaws to eat small fish, barnacles, snails, crabs, and clams.
They are found in coastal waters along the entire United States eastern seaboard, but are more abundant in the southern reaches. They are commonly encountered by SCUBA divers and are a favorite for the salt water aquarium hobbyist.

***Keep posted for more amazing organisms to be posted soon...

1 comment:

Jenn said...

Wow, that was really interesting! I don't know much about biology related subjects at all, so I really appreciate that you took the time to explain those two organisms in a very interesting and informative manner. And those photos are great!