Monday, May 7, second entry – The Florida Tech oceanography students were fearless, in spite of the fact that the water temperature was in the lower 50’s. In the middle of the cove, sheltered by large rocks, is a large pool area fringed by a short kelp forest of Laminaria.
Liza marched right out into the middle of the pool and started exploring the depths with her feet. Perhaps the most exciting find of the day were the red sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus. These are more typically subtidal and difficult to procure intertidally except on very low tides and in very special locations. The students found several and we brought a couple back to the lab, where they spawned! Many of us flooded our boots trying to get out “just a little farther” – brrrrrr! Simon forgot his cell phone was in his pocket L. In the end, we were able to collect a number of sea stars, snails and other sundry critters for observation in the laboratory. One of the sea stars was the ochre star Pisaster ochraceus, which comes in a variety of beautiful colors, including purple and orange. Pisaster is the infamous original Keystone Predator, a member of an ecosystem which keeps a dominant competitor in check, thus enabling greater diversity of the overall system.