Fun with the S.E.M.

Hello, Steve here again. It has been a month or so now at Friday Harbor and I’m still having a blast. Joe’s, Deanna’s, and my projects are going great. We are all starting to get results. While designing my experiment this spring one of my goals was to incorporate the scanning electron microscope (S.E.M.) into my research. I have always wanted to learn how to use one mainly because I think the pictures are really cool.

I did figure out how to include the S.E.M. by looking to see how morphological aspects of juvenile Oregonia gracilis affect their behavior. I am also interested in characterizing the different morphological features of the very young juveniles, as it has not been done before. Finally I am looking to see if there are any differences in setal density between different periods of O. gracilis’ life.

I learned how to use the S.E.M. last week. It is amazingly easy to use. If you can use a camera you can learn how to use the S.E.M. It only took about 5 minutes to master. The theory on how it works, on the other hand, is not so easy. Well, here are some pictures I took with it.

A carapace of an O.gracilis megalopa, the final larval stage of a crab before metamorphosis into a juvenile crab. They can look quite different between species. There are a few here that look similar but the way the spines are laid out distinguishes between them.

Compound eyeballs look tight.

A carapace of a few day old juvenile O. gracilis. All the hair like projections are called hooked setae. These are how decorator crabs attach decoration to themselves. It is a mechanical attachment much like Velcro. Hooked setae are unique to the spider crab family Majoidae.

Here is a juvenile eye ball because it looks cool. It kind of has an eye brow of hooked setae. Pretty sweet.

A close up of some of the setae. These ones are on the base of the rostrum.



First week at Friday Harbor Labs

It has been a full week already and it flew by. Everything about Friday Harbor Labs is awesome. The ferry ride to the island is one of the most scenic things I have ever experienced. There are big rocky cliffs everywhere dropping off into the cold blue waters of the Puget Sound. In the distance you can see Mount Baker in one direction and the Olympic Mountains to the other. Both are huge snowy peaks poking up through the clouds. Giant pine trees tower above the entire lab campus. The wildlife is also spectacular. There are so many birds everywhere, a true bird watchers dream. My favorites are the quails, which are a common and very charismatic ground bird. There is actually a Rufus hummingbird buzzing around me right now. The deer here are like squirrels they are everywhere and don’t care. You walk right by them and they pay you no real attention. However, by far the most amazing thing about this place is the marine ecosystems. A quick stroll on the shore about you will see giant bull kelp, starfish, polychaetes, crabs, isopods, seals, fish, and the list goes on and on.

The people here with me are also great. It’s only been a week but we are already like a family. There are 19 or so of us I think. Basically we all work very hard from after breakfast to dinner in our labs and then we all kick back together at night. It has been a great time every night so far. I am pretty sure I have made some friends for life and future colleagues. It is so nice to be in the company of other aspiring scientists like myself. All of actual scientists here are great too. They have all been very friendly. Everyone is on a first name basis. We are all working on our own projects and at the end of the summer we will be giving a presentation about our work. Hopefully at least some of us will be able to publish; I know I would be very siked if I could.

My research is investigating the decorating behavior in the last larval stage and very young graceful decorating crabs, Oregonia gracilis. I will also be characterizing their early ontogeny as it has not been done before. One of the most exciting things to me is I have managed to incorporate the electron microscope into my work. I have always wanted to use one. Well that is all for now enjoy the pictures.