Thursday, July 14, 2011

Akiko- Week 3 Trial and Error

Hey All, Akiko here.

In the third week of my internship, I spent a lot of time focused on my research project. I spent a lot of time diligently following, photographing, and observing the little ascidians that settled on my plate. I used velcro on the backs of my petri dishes to attach them to a large plate hanging in the bay. However, this velcro created a problem in that it obscured the light from the microscopes when trying to take pictures of the ascidians. Furthermore, I found that my original intention of setting out 20 petri dishes was too ambitious: I quickly found myself inundated with work trying to photograph 20+ organisms each day!

I decided that I needed to rethink and redo some parts of my project. With the guidance of my adviser, Professor Richard Emlet, I made new petri dishes that had velcro on the sides of the plates rather than underneath them. That way, the velcro wouldn't distort the light. I also decided to downsize the number of petri dishes deployed. Now I have six clear petri dishes to keep track of instead of twenty. I also decided not to take pictures of all of the organisms each day, but to rotate through them.

On the up side, I am learning something new every day. Each day I dedicate a lot of time (around 3 hours) to observing and photographing the tiny organisms under the microscope, and then I put in a few hours to tidying up the images with photoshop. I'm learning how to recognize settlers of different species too! Here are some that are easy to identify.

Do you recognize this one? This is Botrylloides violaceus, the pictures that I posted on my last blog entry. They are generally easy to recognize because of their huge sunburst-like ampullae and their red, orange or purple hue. They are also relatively large compared to the other early settlers that I see under the microscope.


These next two images are of a different species of colonial ascidian. This is called Distaplia occidentalis. In these photos, you can see three or four little ampullae that look like legs of a tripod in contact with the surface of the petri dish. You can also see a large cylindrical shaped structure that looks like a mesh tube. That is called the branchial basket, and it's connected to the organism's
incurrent or branchial siphon- the nozzle that sucks water into the organism.

Yet another organism that fouls my plates: the sponge. Unfortunately, I don't know the scientific name of this one. However, I do get a lot of sponges on my plates and I take pictures of them, even though they aren't as charismatic as the colonial ascidians.

1 comment:

  1. Was it helpful to spend time with Jim Carlton?
    If you find an animal that you and Richard cannot identify he will be able to help you as he is a world expert on introduced invertebrate species.