Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer Activities

So what have we been doing all summer.  Well...lots of things!

Gustav was gone most of the summer teaching a class up at Friday Harbor Lab in Washington (state).  Here he is teaching the same class from a few years ago.

Should I mention that it was an intensive invertebrate zoology class, or is that obvious from his disguise as Nephrops norvegicus with Cycliophora?

We also got several shipments from the field including specimens from the Tuamotus, Red Sea, and Singapore expeditions that various of us were on recently.  You know what those shipments look like as they have been featured on this blog before. They are beloved by both airline personnel and USPS workers alike due to both their contraband appearance and intoxicating aroma.

Speaking of contraband appearance, check these out!  Any guesses as to what we have here?

If you said, "whale bones!?!" then you'd be right.  If you said "*yawn* whale bones?" then you'd also be technically right, but we could do with a little more enthusiasm.  We in invertebrate zoology don't usually get too fired up about bones, but every once in a while those vertebrate divisions come across some cool specimens of their own.

Like this specimen that was found in a tank full of sharks.

I'm sure that Rob couldn't believe his luck when he found this squid fraternizing with his sharks out at the large specimen storage facility.  I know it's hard to tell from this picture, but the squid is actually in pretty good shape and even in his contracted/preserved state is maybe about 5 feet long with tentacles extended.  His label was also in surprisingly good shape and this Ommastrephes bartrami is now an official member of our collection.

Our collection has actually been getting a lot of new members lately.

Lots of people have spent lots of hours going though our backlog of donated collections and rehousing them and cataloging them into our collection.  No sooner is the range table cleared off then...
...boom!  Another trip to the offsite storage facility yields a fresh bounty of (mostly) molluscs to be accessioned.

All this accessioning is thirsty work.

For the specimens I mean.  Another gagillion samples, another ethanol order.  Randy (from fishes), Adania, John and I met the truck to help unload the ten or so 55-gallon drums that we had collectively ordered.

And the collection isn't the only thing growing.  Our lab has been growing too, due to several long-term visitors including Andréa, in the photo below, who is visiting us for a year to study didemnids, a type of colonial tunicate.

If you've ever seen a rock in the ocean that was encrusted with a brightly colored substance...well, it might have been a sponge...or an alga...but it also might have been a didemnid tunicate!  In addition to Andréa, Ronaldo is also visiting us for a year.  He is studying solitary tunicates.  But lest you think we are neglecting the other phyla, Tania was here most of the summer, and she plowed through the lion's share of our brittle star collection, IDing things left and right...we're hoping we haven't seen the last of her.  Plus, Jenna is back!

But now she and Gustav have headed back to the Red Sea with a few other familiar faces to do some boat-based sampling in the Gulf of Aqaba.  I think François and Nat are going on some adventures as well.  I'm sure they'll all have some interesting photos and stories to share.

:) Mandy