We recently had the privilege to go out with the specimen boat and help with collecting. The job was to get jellyfish and to check crab traps. They were after decorator crabs, jellyfish and, as always, other stuff can be added to the touch tanks for the kids to see and/or kept in the aquaria in anticipation of an order. They waste nothing. If they can’t use it it is returned back to the sea. It was a COLD day to be out.
Leaving the harbour.
Combination GPS and Depth finder keeps track of where we are. That was really nice given we ended up in a fog bank and then out again by the end of the trip.
Here Cypress has us move the boat along a “run” an area marked with foam and containing mixed water from the bay and ocean that tends to have collection of small organisms. This is also where jellyfish like to collect and eat the smaller creatures. It’s not easy to follow a run. It’s harder to scoop a jellyfish with the net as it drifts by.
Success! We got jellyfish. The order meant we needed 30 for a scientist. Jellyfish are one of the few things they can’t keep in aquaria and so must hunt for fresh each time. The trick is pluck them from the ocean and get them to a courier within a few hours.
All done with hunting jellyfish, we check the crab traps. Cypress makes it look easy to pull them up but it’s really hard work. I did one and that was enough. The crab traps are dumped out in the boat and then rebated and thrown back in. While that is going on everyone else has to run around grabbing all the crabs and other organisms that was making a run for it.
This is a hermit crab with his own special sponge/anemone thingie on top for camouflage.
Spider crabs. Oh we got lots of them and they are hard to catch and they pinch hard!
These are the decorator crabs we were after. They are called that because the decorate themselves with bits of plants algae and such.
The gold stuff I am checking out is called sargassum and it is a floating weed where baby sea turtles leave after they feet off the shore. We also had a special bonus. We pulled up one crab trap and it was full of Gulf Specimen Marine Lab’s most popular sale item, Arbacia sea urchins used for emgyological experiments and scientific education. Normally these are collected by scuba divers so the spot was carefully marked for a future visit by the GSML scuba team. Meanwhile, any we got from the crab were carefully collected.
Home again and the specimens then have to be packed and sent off by courier later the same day to get to their destination of scientists all over the world. It’s hard cold dirty work but it sure bits the average cubicle job.