Ah yes, Tigriopus californicus, commonly known as…. wait. What? The tidepool copepod? How “original” – I think we can do better – let’s all agree to go with Tiggers, ok? If you are thinking to yourself “Wait just a hot second! That does not look like my cuddly buddy from the Hundred Acre Wood?” you are right. Good job!
For two weeks our class has been working with these little critters and I have to admit, they have bounced right into my heart. So, today, I rise to the challenge and explain to you the top 4 reasons why these adorable little copepods are just as wonderful as your hyperactive, impulsive childhood friend.
- Tiggers bounce too!
Just like Tigger, Tiggers bounce. This is in fact true for all copepods. Copepod literally means oar-foot in Latin and refers to their jumpy movement. When they want to move, Tiggers power stroke with all of their legs at the same time, shooting them forward quickly. The following recovery stroke results in a pause in their forward momentum and gives them their bouncing movement. Just watch them jumping around in this video (hum the song… DO IT!)
- Tiggers are tough as nails.
I think that we could all agree that no one would ever call Tigger “tough”. Tiggers on the other hand would definitely fit the bill. These little beasties live in extremely high splash pools where almost nothing else lives. Because these little puddles of water are so isolated from mother ocean, their salinity and temperature can change an incredible amount. This doesn’t bother Tiggers, oh no, they just continue to thrive in the face of overwhelming odds (just like nails…)
- Tiggers are legion!
Tigger lauds the fact that “the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I’m the only one.” Tiggers on the other hand go for the opposite wow factor – there are a RIDONCULOUS number of them. These guys are found in splash pools along the entire pacific coast of North America. All of it. One study on Vancouver Island showed that their densities were on average 800 per litre, but could get up to 20,000 per litre! 20,000!! Not that I’ve been thinking about world domination with an army of Tiggers at my back….ha ha…
- Tiggers are important to science.
While Tigger might be important to your childhood, Tiggers are important to science. Being damn hard to kill (please refer to #2, “tough as nails”), easy to access, small and having a high reproductive rate makes Tiggers an ideal organism to study both in the field and in the lab. This means countless scientific studies have used Tiggers answer different physiological and ecological questions. They are practically famous.
OK, so maybe you won’t forgo your Tigger teddy for a stuffed Tigriopus californicus. However, I hope that the next time you are strolling through the upper reaches of the intertidal and you chance upon a splash pool, you will pause and join me in singing: “The wonderful thing about Tiggers is that Tiggers are wonderful things.”
And now because I know you have all been waiting for it: