As I head out to Hadley Point with Dr. Disney and Nel, our student volunteer, noticeably missing from our cast of characters is our intern, Lukas, whom has overslept. I am, once again, dressed in my snug fitting, ever attractive wetsuit. The plan for this morning’s super low tide (-1.8 feet) is to look for remaining rhizomes from three separate locations that we can bring back to the lab for DNA analysis. The DNA analysis is much easier with the leaf or blade of the plant, but since there isn’t any, we are resorting to the rhizome. Nel, brilliant volunteer from Thomaston, has twelve baggies with paper towels to remove as much mud as possible and for observation once we get back to the lab, and three baggies of silica gel desiccant for storage of another set of rhizomes to be used later.
Upon arrival at Hadley Point, we gather all of our equipment into the floating bucket and head into the ocean. The water was actually much warmer than I had predicted – cold really isn’t my thing. Upon entering our first location (East #1), we began looking for the rhizomes. Several were present, but their condition was of concern. While some appeared to be slightly brown, others were black and crumbled easily. As we finished the first location, Lukas appeared on his bike, ready to join the fun – sans the wetsuit and very apologetic
Heading into our other locations (West #1, #2, and #3), we discover that we have forgotten to take a GPS reading, but decided to do that when we return to the car. As the number of rhizomes appears to be fewer and fewer, I notice so many other characters in the ocean. The number of sea anemones is astounding!!! Have they eaten the eel grass? The mussels, clams, and crabs seem abundant. There was even a jellyfish floating around.
And even a mystery character – do you know who this is?
It is some sort of ocean sea slug – I’ll see if I can find the genus and species tomorrow.
At our last location, West #3, we meet the best character of the day, Richard Taylor, local legend. Richard, aka The Rat, has been lobstering, clamming, and eeling in “these parts” for decades. His anecdotal observations throughout the years, verifies some of Dr. Disney’s work. He also spoke of his own citizen science work with baby clams and attempting to grow them in several different locations throughout the bay. His storytelling and dry humor make him the quintessential “Maina.”
Upon our return to the lab, suits are washed, plans are made for tomorrow and microscopes are set up as we are now ready to look at our harvest. Can’t wait to see what the rhizomes reveal.