Friday 23 May 2014

A bird in the hand...

by Becks Hunter

We’ve moved on to our second survey area and have left the tropical conditions behind. Night shift battled through seven hours of sieving in heavy rain under rough conditions. Now is the time to test who really has their sea legs!

Some of our most interesting finds include pogges (Agonus cataphractus) and sea mice (Aphrodita aculeata). These marine critters obviously aren’t actually rodents, but are a species of segmented worm. They are covered by a characteristic ‘fur’ of bristles and chaetae. Some of these are iridescent, giving the sea mouse a blue/green shimmer.

Sea mice, Aphrodita aculeata 

We are finding a lot of hermit crabs as well, including some whose shells have been entirely taken over by Epizoanthus incrustatus, a colonial species related to coral. One larger crab climbed out of his whelk shell and gave us the unusual opportunity to photograph the whole body.

Hermit crab with Epizoanthus incrustatus

A hermit crab outside its home

At 5am this morning, during transit between stations, night shift were called upon to perform a high seas rescue mission. A Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) had flown inside the ship and was stuck in one of the tea rooms. We were able to catch it and take it back outside, although it didn’t seem to be in any rush to leave!

A Chiffchaff infiltrates the lab

Not quite Doctor Doolittle, but close enough