Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Estuary Discovery

Ghost shrimp.
Behind the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport is a big, squishy salt water estuary.  We popped by with a clam gun to see what we could find hiding in the estuary sand.  We very quickly discovered that the estuary is quite densely populated.  The clam gun is basically a PVC pipe with handles and a covered top with a small hole.  The clam gun is twisted into the soft sand, then with a finger placed over the hole it is removed, bringing a long column of sand with it.  This works much like a kid playing with a soda straw, lifting a column of soda by placing a thumb over the top of the straw. Teeny clams and marine worms were often embedded in the sand, but if we reached into the holes we often found ghost shrimp.  When brought up, they rapidly set about digging themselves back in. We put them back in the holes to help them keep away from marauding seagulls.  Often they are beautifully colored.  The boys have one giant front claw, and the girls often have eggs attached to their undersides. Jasper got so much joy from exploring the estuary that I felt it was well worth the bother of getting a clam gun!
Ghost shrimp.  The one in the foreground has eggs.
Male ghost shrimp.
Shore crab.
Clam.
Shore crab molting.
Ghost shrimp with eggs.

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