Saturday, January 20, 2018

Infinitely complex

I was inspired by a scientist on Twitter a few days ago. Allison studies species interactions, and her experience has been in the intertidal zone. As she says, she has had"my face down in the seaweeds for 5 years" looking at communities composed of hundreds of species.

To illustrate her Twitter series, she has been searching through her old intertidal photos looking for examples of interactions between species. "What a good idea!" I thought, and dug out my oldest photos, looking for the extras, the critters that weren't the feature of the photo, but were living alongside them. What have I missed?

Worms, barnacles, mussels, miniature sea urchins, sponges, anemones, tiny fish, more worms, more worms, eggs. Seaweeds of all kinds and colours. Most of these are in the unfocused areas of the photos, but they're there.

Purple starfish. With barnacles, stubby isopods, sponge, a worm, and a half-dozen hairy hermit crabs, walking on the star, or nestled between two of its arms.

Another starfish, with at least 5 species of seaweeds. Blowing the photo up, I discovered many tiny snails, one large blue-shelled snail, a crab, a limpet and, of course, barnacles. No telling how many beasties are sheltering under the seaweeds.

I still have oodles of photos to examine. I wonder what else I'll find.


  1. Like its own little universe. The more you look, the more you find. Very cool!

  2. Life as a community. I read that the starfish wasting disease is on the wane. Hope that's true. - Margy


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!