Marine and Costal Ecosystems: Day 2 of Ocean Exploration

Last night I discovered a visitor at my window. I think it may have been a purple-winged mantis. I’m assuming the light attracted the insects that this guy likes to eat. It’s definitely not something you’d see everyday in Wisconsin! For size reference, I’d say he was about the length of a pencil.


Purple-Winged Mantis?

This morning I had another field trip for my Marine and Costal Ecology class, which met at 9am at the bus stop. We drove about a half hour from campus to Killarney Beach where our mission was to sample and compare invertebrate communities in soft-sediments. Our first sampling location was at the far end of the beach, where the sand was clearly exposed to open ocean.

Killarney Beach

Killarney Beach

Coring devices were used to delve about 20cm into the sand, which was then dumped into a sieve and sifted through.

Corer and Rinse Bucket

Corer and Rinse Bucket (The metal thing laying on its side is a bait pump.)



Collecting a Sample

Collecting a Sample

Collecting the Sand

Collecting the Sand

Once most of the sand was washed out, we’d have to pick through with a forcepts and try to collect all of the invertebrates in our sample.

Ta da!

Ta da!

Five samples were drawn from ankle-deep ocean water and five were drawn from the area just above where the waves were reaching along the beach. Some of the guys in my group even found a little crustacean friend. We didn’t find him in our sampling procedure, but I thought the little crab looked pretty photogenic.

Crab! (Quite possibly a friend of Sebastian)

Crab! (Quite possibly a friend of Sebastian)

When we finished collecting our samples here we moved to a little lagoon-like area, more inland along the ocean edge.


Lagoon-like Area

Here we were to collect five samples using dip net sweeps in the weedy seagrasses and five samples where no seagrass was growing.




Sifting and Looking for Invertebrates

We found lots of little things here such as shrimp, fish, worms, and isopods.



We had to release the shrimp because of animal ethics issues, but they were collected for our sample in order to see how many we had found in each area. Our goal of the day was to basically see what we found in each ecosystem and how it compared to the other ecosystems we were sampling.

One of our instructors was enjoying investigating with the bait pump and found an eel and some larger fish.


Fish (In the upper corner of the container.)

At about 12:00pm we headed back to the “Uni” (University) for some lunch before looking at our samples. I ended up with a pretty easy identification experience, because I only found two different species in my three samples.




Spionid Polychaete Worm (Click the link if you’d like to see more about them… and a better picture.)

Others found a much larger variety of invertebrates including some crazy looking anemones. We made a chart of the different locations and animals found there, filling in numbers of each species identified. Eventually we’ll be creating a report using our information to compare and contrast the environments.

Tomorrow is our last day of lab for this class. We’ll be using a sein net to check out fish and invertebrates. In the afternoon we start our field trips for the Marine Biology class. Most of our work tomorrow for Marine Biology takes place after dark, so we’ll see how that goes! It sound like it’ll be interesting!


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