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One place where the tides have an extreme effect on the ecosystem is in the Bay of Fundy.
Brittle stars are not like most sea stars when it comes to taking in and digesting food. Most sea stars extrude their stomachs to feed, but the brittle star cannot. The brittle star’s food is taken in to the mouth, through the stomach and absorbed along the alimentary canal as it has no intestines or anus. The waste then goes back out of the mouth.
A mud flat is always a fun place to work. You can get your hands dirty and surround yourself in the smell of decomposition. It is an environment that only true nature-lovers can appreciate. However, there is more to a mud flat than being smelly and dirty.
Watching the Eiders along the coast of Maine, I have admired how they are able to dive below the surface of the water to capture their food thanks to their protective coat. The Common Eider eats mollusks, crustaceans, and even sea urchins!
One of my personal favorite species in the touch tanks was the Skeleton Shrimp, or Caprella sp. From a distance, they look like little pieces of grass, but once you get closer, they look to me like those little worm aliens from the first Men in Black movie.
When sea cucumbers are threatened they release a sticky thread that distracts their enemy. In some species these threads can be poisonous, containing a toxin called holothurin. As a defense mechanism some sea cucumbers can self-eviscerate parts of their own body.
by Rachel, Coastal Studies for Girls Recently, Heather Tetreault from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association came to Coastal Studies for Girls to talk to us about the entanglement of marine mammals in fishing lines. She works in particular to save the North Atlantic Right Whales, a federally endangered species. There are only 450 known North Atlantic Right Whales left in the world and they are being hurt -- and even dying -- in encounters with fishing and lobster gear.
by Sage and Loraine, Coastal Studies for Girls Recently, the girls here at Coastal Studies for Girls had the pleasure to hear a guest lecture by Dr. Collin Roesler. She is the chair of the Earth and Oceanographic Science Department at Bowdoin College. She joined us for dinner and delighted us with stories of phytoplankton and the Arctic and the Antarctic. Her presentation focused on phytoplankton blooms, which occur when species of microscopic algae in the sea flourish at certain times of the year.
by Rosamund, Coastal Studies for Girls My group is analyzing the density of Soft-shell clams along the local shoreline in three different places. We have found out since starting the project that the Harraseeket River has an abundance of clams at low tide. This is interesting, because a local clammer told my group and I that a few years ago, it used to be the exact opposite: there used to be no clams at the Harraseeket River and an abundance in the other locations we researched.
by Meryl, Coastal Studies for Girls On November 30, our final guest speaker of the semester, Anne Madden, gave a talk on her research involving microbes in paper wasp nests. Anne Madden, a graduate research student at Tufts University in Massachusetts, studies the microbes in wasp nests.
by Melissa, Coastal Studies for Girls As I am living at Coastal Studies for Girls I get a chance to be more involved in the environment. I get the opportunity to enjoy, explore, and study so many different parts of nature. Every day that I walk during Solo, our daily ritual, I see nature at it’s most beautiful. The thought of home, in the city, makes me imagine how the beauty I am seeing could be damaged because of cities and because of human impact in general.
By Kagan, Coastal Studies for Girls Last Wednesday our guest speaker was Helen White, an undergraduate student at Bowdoin College here in Maine. She is a physics and astronomy student that some of us met when we all attended the Science Symposium at Bowdoin a few weeks ago. Helen works on a research experiment about black holes, and she has been working on this project for about six months. After seeing a bit of her presentation at Bowdoin, we were all really intrigued by her research and wanted to learn more.
By Franchesca, Coastal Studies for Girls This past weekend in Marine Science we went on a field trip to Reid State Park, a beautiful area of sandy beach, forest and rocky shore. Taking advantage of the beautiful day, we went to learn more about how beaches form and how they change over time. When we got there we were told to think about the question, “What are the patterns that you notice in the landscape?” We were then given several minutes to go out and study first hand what we saw in this beach.
By Bailey, Coastal Studies for Girls On October 28 the Coastal Studies for Girls class set off to volunteer with the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation (GOMLF). We were helping with the Derelict Fishing Gear Recovery and Disposal Project. The project is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsored two-year pilot project that feeds into the Fishing for Energy Program. It’s purpose is to recover, document, and properly dispose of derelict fishing gear.
By Cori, Coastal Studies for Girls Last week in Marine Science we started studying ecological interactions by focusing on seaweed. We had a whole assortment of red, green, and brown seaweeds collected from various locations. We separated them into their groups and started to identify them. Armed with our guides, we battled each seaweed one by one. In our specimens we found some intruders, such as a small lumpfish and some skeleton shrimp -- both of which we examined as well.
By Katie, Coastal Studies for Girls This past week, we took a science trip to the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, which is the marine lab for the University of Maine. At the start of the trip, we met up with Jenn McHenry, a graduate student there. We went out on the Damariscotta River and collected a cornucopia of marine creatures by dredging, or dragging a net from a boat.
By Nell and Loraine, Coastal Studies for GirlsLast Monday, Coastal Studies for Girls took a field trip to the shore by Wolfe’s Neck Farm to do some research in the field and look at variation within a population. The goal was to collect smooth periwinkles (Littorina obtusata) and record data on the snails. The original aim was to collect 195 individuals and to measure size and color for each.
by Doris, Coastal Studies for Girls We recently took a field trip to the Bowdoin Marine Lab where Dr. Amy Johnson, a professor of marine biology and head of the marine lab, gave us a talk and tour. She showed us a sea vase (Ciona intestinalis) inhaling a fluorescent green fluid she squirted through the inhalant siphon. Since the sea vases were translucent, it was easy to see the fluorescent fluid go through the sea vase's body.
By Emmie, Coastal Studies for Girls At Coastal Studies for Girls, each student is assigned a sister species to learn about and focus on throughout the semester. Each girl becomes attached to her species and shares what she learns with the class through projects and presentations. The sister species are all marine animals or plants that live in and around the waters of the Gulf of Maine. As the semester progresses, we are each are responsible for knowing the following about our species: the Latin name, phylum, their diet, who eats them, how they survive through the winter, and much more.
By Brianne, Coastal Studies for Girls Last Friday, Dr. David Fields, Senior Scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, gave the students of Coastal Studies for Girls a tour around the buildings. One of the highlights of the trip was their vast algal collection. The National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton (CCMP) functions much like a library. Each species of alga is cataloged with its own code so that it can be easily identified.
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