Thursday, September 8, 2011

Intertidal Insects, Etcetera

I'm up at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine doing some seaweed ecology work. Today we took readings from our wave force dynamometers, which were quite "sprung," indicating the recent passage of Hurricane Irene. The waves were big today, too, from Katia.


Higher in the intertidal zone there were unusually high numbers of one of the weirdest little critters that we encounter in the field.


They are Anurida maritima springtails, one of the very few species of insects that can live in a saltwater environment. Their tiny blue bodies are covered with water-repellent hairs that allow them to trap air and float on the surface of quiet tide pools. When the tide comes in they hide in cracks and under seaweed.


For a gross close-up picture of one, click here.


Scott; Karin said...

Sweet! Collembola! In Northern Michigan, there's a species that comes out in the winter and the locals call them "snow fleas"!

Mary G. Douglass said...

Those are extremely cool! I didn't know there were marine Colembola, but I've seen similar-looking freshwater aquatic ones -- I think it was at Congaree Swamp.