This morning’s ~8am low tide found me on the dock in Stony Brook Harbor. It was warm, about 80 degrees and sunny, and the bay was glassy flat. I was in excellent company with SBU’s Flax Pond lab director, Steve. We were on our hands and knees, inbetween baby boomer fishermen with dark tans, peering down at the pilings to see what marine life we could find.
The pilings were coated with barnacles, hydrozoans, invasive bread-crumb sponges and compound tunicates — invertebrate life was everywhere! On first glance we collected about 5 of purple sea urchins and mussels. Sponges and hydrozoans were collected for kids to examine under a microscope in a transparent box, so they can observe and report their microscopic findings.
Further down the dock we found a giant Forbes sea star and a one-clawed green crab. (One claw is better than two when it comes to handling by 5-year olds!) The race to catch the blennie fish pair was eventually won, and before leaving the dock we quickly grabbed an oyster off the dry side of the piling.
After today’s marine life survey I have 8 viable species for a touch tank. I will be feeding them a diet of grass shrimp and mussels in their flow through sea table with aeration.
Underwater view of a dock piling.