Oct. 05, 2011

Seeing Sea Squirts

by Coastal Studies for Girls

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. The research project she showed us focused on what temperature is best for the growth and reproduction of green sea urchins.

We were able to see the experimental setup, which consists of several tanks that are kept at different temperatures in which there are little baskets holding green sea urchins. The research has shown that bigger sea urchins prefer cooler temperature water, whereas smaller urchins prefer warmer temperature water.

Also, the touch tanks in the lab entertained us all. One of the species that we were able to pick up and study was the green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), which had pointy spines and released water every few seconds. Another species that we encountered was the northern red sea anemone (Urticina felina) which was wine-red with orange tentacles towards the middle. The anemone felt slippery and sticky when the tentacles touched the tips of our fingers.

Furthermore, there were sea vases (Ciona intestinalis) in smaller tanks. Dr. Amy Johnson showed us how the sea vase would inhale a fluorescent green fluid she squirted through the inhalant siphon. Then, how the sea vase would squirt it out through the exhalant siphon. Once Dr. Johnson showed us how the sea vase would inhale and exhale the fluorescent dye, she let us squirt the fluorescent fluid in the inhalant siphon ourselves. Since the sea vases were translucent, it was easy to see the fluorescent fluid go through the sea vases’ body.

In this video, watch fluorescent dye as it travels through a sea vase (Ciona intestinalis). The yellow dye travels in through the buccal (oral) siphon and out through the atrial siphon (cloacal).

Going to the Bowdoin lab helped me realize that there is life everywhere. When we first saw the touch tanks in the lab, all we saw were rocks and some green slime. However, once we actually looked and touched what was in the touch tanks, we found many living things.

Read more writing from the students at Coastal Studies for Girls:
Sister Species
A Visit to the National Center for Culture of Marine Phytoplankton

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Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls. CSG is dedicated to girls who have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge themselves.

About Coastal Studies for Girls

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls.

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