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Hi everyone! The last few weeks we have seen many neat animals that were caught in the MOCNESS nets. Today I would like to show you how the scientists store and care for the MOCNESS nets, which are made by Bobbie Seigler at the Sea-Gear Corporation in Florida.
The MOCNESS nets are stored in a large open container for the drive to and from the ship. The big container reminds me of a toy box! When the scientists arrive at the ship they assemble the frames. Then the scientists drop the nets into the water. Check out the MOCNESS nets in action!
During the cruise, the scientists clean the nets by spraying them down with water. As the scientists sprays down the net they also check for rips or holes. If a net is damaged, the scientists replace the net so the animals do not escape.
At the end of the cruise, the scientists disassemble the frames so they can take the nets back to Florida. Once in Florida, the nets are given a really good cleaning. Then, the nets are left out to dry before they are stored until the next cruise. Just like you and me, the scientists have to clean up their toys!
I'm glad we learned more about the MOCNESS nets because they are so important for the DEEPEND scientists! Until next time.
Whoa, what's that? It's so colorful! The DEEPEND scientists tell me that this is a siphonophore. Siphonophores belong to the animal group that includes corals and jellyfish. This group is called Cnidaria. Siphonophores are colonial animals. Colonial animals are multiple individuals that are connected and work together. Siphonophores can grow to be 40–50 meters long. That's about the length of a Blue Whale! Siphonophores feel gelatinous. This means they feel like jello! My favorite jello flavor is cherry, how about you?
Siphonophores are active predators, just like the heteropods we talked about last time. They hunt small fish and crustaceans. When they get close enough, siphonophores use their tentacles to capture and reel in the prey. Some individuals of the colony are responsible for motions that help to move and orientate towards prey while others catch the prey or digest it. Each individual of a siphonophore has its own role to play.
Siphonophores bioluminesce blue or green when they feel threatened. Remember how the Dragonfish uses bioluminescence to attract prey? Well, siphonophores use bioluminescence to try to scare predators.
That's all for today. See you next time!
Breaking news from Squirt! Did you know there are snails that can swim? Heteropods are swimming snails!
While most heteropods are small, some heteropods can grow as big as half a meter in length. That's about as long as a pillow. That's a HUGE snail! Some heteropod species have a coiled clear shell while other species do not have a shell. Just like land snails, heteropods with shells can pull themselves inside the shell for protection. Check out the snail with a shell below. The heteropods without shells have nowhere to hide, but they can swim really fast! Being able to swim fast is good for the snails because they are active predators. Predators are animals that hunt other animals for food. An example of a land predator is a lion. Lions hunt gazelles for food. Heteropods hunt prey like worms, jellyfish, and even other snails.
The tongue of a heteropod is covered with teeth. That's really neat! These teeth are used to grab and tear up the prey caught by a heteropod. Sometimes heteropods are called "sea elephants." This is because they have a trunk-like proboscis near their mouths. A proboscis is a long body part that is attached to the head of an animal. Doesn't the proboscis look like a trunk?
I never knew snails could swim. I'm learning so much from the DEEPEND scientists.
Squirt is back! The DEEPEND scientists found a nifty seed shrimp. Seed shrimp are crustaceans, just like the Blind Lobster we talked about last time. Sometimes seed shrimp are called "mussel shrimp." This is because they have two shells that surround their bodies, just like a mussel. Seed shrimp belong to a group of crustaceans called ostracods. There are about 8,000 living species of ostracods. Ostracods can be found in almost any water environment on Earth, including deep seas, polar seas, freshwater ponds, and tropical beaches. Five species of ostracods are known to live in the ocean.
Ostracods are tiny animals. The average size of an ostracod is about 1 mm. That's only about the tip of a sharp pencil! But some species of ostracods, like Giant Ostracods, can grow to be 32 mm. Draw 32 dots right next to each other using a sharp pencil. Look at how big they can get! The seed shrimp the DEEPEND scientists caught was about the size of a green pea.
Remember the post on bioluminescence? Bioluminescence helps ostracods catch prey because they can see when their prey bioluminescence. Ostracods eat small prey such as copepods, mysids, chaetognaths, medusae, and even small fish. I hope the DEEPEND scientists catch some of these for us to see!
Do you see the purple spots inside the seed shrimp the DEEPEND scientists caught? They are eggs! Giant Ostracods store their eggs internally. The eggs develop there until they are ready to hatch. Then the young are released into the ocean.
More to come soon!
Squirt here with some more fascinating photos! The DEEPEND scientists have been busy taking photographs of recent catches in the MOCNESS nets. First, let's look at the Waryfish, Scopelosaurus smithi (Sco-pel-o-saur-us smi-thi). Look at that pattern. What land animal does that pattern remind you of? It kind of looks like the pattern you seen on a giraffe!
Next up is a Deepwater Flounder (Monolene sessilicauda). This photograph is of a young flounder who is still growing to be an adult. Many species of invertebrates and fishes like the Deepwater Flounder have a dispersing immature (also called larval) stage that develops in the open ocean. I can't wait to see what a grown up Deepwater Flounder will look like. I hope the DEEPEND scientists catch one!
The last photograph I have to share with you today is a Blind Lobster. Lobsters belong to a group of animals called crustaceans. Crabs, crayfishes, and shrimps are also crustaceans. Crustaceans have a hard exoskeleton that helps protect them. An exoskeleton surrounds the body kind of like the padding you wear to play football. Crustaceans also have bilateral symmetry. Bilateral symmetry means the body can be divided into two almost identical sides. You and I also have bilateral symmetry! Imagine dividing yourself from head to toe, each side would look almost the same.
I hope you enjoyed the photographs. I did! See you next time!