Golly gee, we caught a Melibe!

Have you ever gone to a marina and asked yourself “I wonder what’s living under this beautiful marina?”? No, well we did!

This week in lab, we split the class in half and went to two separate marinas. Half of our group went to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club marina at Jericho Beach while the other went to their other location in Stanley Park.

I was part of the group that took a trip down to the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in Stanley Park. The Yacht Marina is located near the entrance of the park just Northwest of Downtown Vancouver.

We were on a mission to study fouling marine, invertebrate communities – communities entangled and attached to the marina itself. Most of the species we observed were muscles, sea anemones, polychaetes, sea stars, barnacles, and colonial tunicates.

Just as we were about to leave, a strange translucent object in the water caught my eye! With the help of our T.A. Kat and another (taller) student, Cam, we were able to capture this interesting specimen. It turns out that we caught a Hooded Nudibranch! This animal is not much bigger than the palm of my hand. Fun fact about this nudibranch, when you rub its skin, your fingers smell like a watermelon rind! Watermelon is my favourite fruit, so naturally I was even more ecstatic.

Bird's eye view of the Melibe lionina that we caught

Bird’s eye view of the Melibe lionina that we caught

For those of you have seen Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon (and if you haven’t you should!), this hooded nudibranch reminds me of the lovable character, Toothless. Do you see the resemblance?

Dreamworks' lovable character, Toothless.

Dreamworks Picture’s lovable character, Toothless.

Check THIS out to see a Melibe lionina in action!

After collecting our specimens, we brought them back to the university to study them a little bit closer and in a closed environment. We examined different species under dissecting microscopes as well as with the naked eye.

There we observed and recorded species diversity between the marinas. Though the two marinas are less than 10 kilometres from each other, they provided difference in species diversity.

Map of Vancouver, BC

  Map of Vancouver, BC

There could be a number of reasons as to how this species diversity has arisen between these two local marinas. Could it be due to the differences in salinity of the water at each marina? Could it be due to the boat traffic? More experimentation and exploration is needed to be done to answer these questions.

Foreshadowing? Maybe, maybe not. Stay tuned to find out!


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