ambience ocean waves, gulls
To the casual observer, there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on at a tide pool. But through the eyes of a marine biologist, a microcosm of ocean life is revealed. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“We are looking at tubes attached to the rocks. They look like straws, but they are, in fact, snails. So, they have an animal living inside that looks just like a land snail and comes out with its antennae and feeds on particles going by in the water.”
Fiorenza Micheli is an assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. We’re at Hopkins Marine Station near Monterey Bay.
“And what is interesting about this animal, is that this is a southern species. It didnâ€™t used to be found here 30 years ago, and now it has become very abundant. And itâ€™s one of the species that is a signal. Itâ€™s telling us that temperatures are increasing, and so with increasing temperature, this species is moving northward. “
Attached to another rock, Fiorenza finds a limpet, a mollusk with a shell that’s shaped like a tent.
“So, this animal here, down in the crack, is an owl limpet. The animal leaves a scar in the shell after it dies, that has the shape of an owl, so thatâ€™s where the name comes. When you find a shell, and you turn it around, you can see the outline of an ow. “
And then there’s the familiar star fish or sea star.
“These particular sea stars feed by extroflecting their stomach and inserting the digestive enzymes inside the mussel cavity. They digest it outside of their body, and then they eat the digested material afterwards. And sometimes it takes several hours to complete this operation.”
We’ll hear more on tide pools in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.