Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Akiko: Petri dishes in the ocean

Hey All, Akiko here. So I spent most of the first week researching and designing my project, and during the second week I got to finally start implementing it. After a lot of planning I figured out a way to catch some pictures of microscopic settlers as they mature.

First I sanded the surface of a few petri dishes in order to make an abrasive surface. Supposedly, invertebrate settlers find the roughened surface more appealing to attach to. Then I attached velcro strips to the back of each petri dish with glue. I put longer strips of velcro on a large rectangular plate. This large rectangular plate has four holes drilled into it and rope tied to it, such that it can hang from a dock and be suspended in the water column. After lots of preparation, I attached my petri dishes to the backing plate and lowered them into the water for a few days, checking them every day.

I kept track of individual organisms by making a small grid that can fit over each petri dish, so that I can track their location and confirm that it's the same organism. It's very hard to keep track of them when they are so small! Every day, I took a photograph of each invertebrate settler. I have found that it is difficult to get good images when you're taking a picture through a microscope, but with some lighting adjustments and Photoshop help, I hope to get images that could be used for identification.

These images are all of the same organism. I'm pretty sure that the scientific name is Botrylloides violaceus. I have had quite a number of these settle on my petri dishes. They are easy to identify because of their ampullae: the sunburst-like ring around them.

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