Hey guys, I’m Joe Odierno, here at Friday Harbor Labs with Dr. Jacobs, Deanna, and Steve. This is our 3rd week here in the San Juan Islands and each day is filled with new and different surprises. From getting to go out dredging, to starting experiments we have all been anticipating for months, to seeing all the awesome organisms this place has to offer, it’s really a sight to see.
Between the whale watching, seal sightings, and adventure hikes, we all work hard and long on our research in the labs and field. I’m here studying Oregonia gracilis, The Graceful Decorator. These crabs are apart of the Spider Crab family and will take anything they can get their claws on and use it to decorate they carapace and legs. They mostly utilize varieties of algae, bryozoans, and sponges. It has been seen that other crabs in their order will prefer to decorate with one material more than another. I’m looking at the question, do these crabs prefer one material to another, or do they just take whatever is within claw length? I want to see if these guys go to their favorite department store and pick out their favorite shirt, or if they just go for the first one they see.
So the general process of my experiment is go out to the docks, swoop 30 to 40 of these guys into my net, bring them back to the lab, strip them down (un-decorate them)-which I must say is a pretty arduous process that usually goes long into the night- using my arsenal of watchmaker’s forceps, paintbrushes, forceps, and a handy dandy dissecting microscope, give them sometime to recover, and the next day unleash a fury of red algae, sponges, and bugula on them. After about three days of decorating I re-strip the crabs, dry the used materials, and weigh them. I actually began my first real round the beginning of this week, so I’m stuck in this excited, edge-of-my-seat, come on guys decorate decorate decorate, type of state. Which I must say isn’t a bad thing.
Well we gotta go catch a boat, so that’s all for now from the West Side. Until next time.