Lost Urchins

Thursday, May 10, 2012 – The Biological Oceanography students at Florida Tech ventured out for their third rocky intertidal tidepool field trip in five days.  This time we tackled South Cove at Cape Arago – the very end of Cape Arago Highway.

The path to South Cove is our longest hike yet, but it is easier in some ways because it is mostly paved and consists of many switchbacks and a shallower grade. Because of the paved trail, South Cove is one of the more visited coastal sites and somewhat trammeled and picked over.

For this reason, most of the Florida Tech Biological Oceanography students chose to move around to the South side of the cove, a little less popular, in the hopes of finding something different – and boy did we! One of the goals of the day was to collect purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) in anticipation of our impending urchin spawning session coming up on Saturday. We finally found them underneath mid-intertidal boulders on the far south side of the cove. We also collected two keyhole limpets (Diodora aspera), but limited our collection because of the extreme longevity of the animals – the 1.5-2 inch individuals we collected are likely > 30 years old! Florida Tech Biological Oceanography students also started seeing gunnel eels, which are slippery in a way that is difficult to comprehend without experience. Simon finally managed to capture one with some extreme out-of-the-box thinking. Finally, there was reportedly a Sasquatch siting in the rocky intertidal!

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