April 15, 2019
Did you know most animals in the ocean don’t have backbones?
We’re half a week into leg 3 of the NEFSC spring bottom trawl survey and into the full swing of survey life. Our first tow this morning, around 1:30 am, was a little southeast of Chatham harbor, Massachusetts. Even though the catch was fairly small, it was full of really interesting benthic invertebrates. These are the animals that live on the ocean floor and lack vertebrae, the small bones that form a backbone.
This morning we had a small bucket of very diverse specimens. At first, it may seem difficult to get a grasp of what you’re looking, but it becomes much easier to comprehend after taking some time to separate everything into groups.
Here are some highlights from what I found: a diverse range of animals!
Another neat find (pictured below) was a large orange-footed sea cucumber, Cucumaria frondosa.
I quickly placed this animal in a bucket of fresh salt water, and after some time, it relaxed enough to expose its tentacles. It was surprising to see! In my experience, they are mostly seen closed up after coming up in the net.
It’s always fun to see tows like these. Even though it may be harder to pick through on the sorting belt, it’s a great opportunity to see the diversity of life that lives on the ocean floor.
Aboard the FSV Henry B. Bigelow
Spring 2019 Bottom Trawl Survey Leg 3