Fish Review

Fish Anatomy (two minute time limit)
Open the links below in a new tab and play "Scatter" or "Space Race" with BOTH sets. Please do not spend more than five minutes on each (ten minutes total).
Fish - caudal fins, mouths, body shapes and coloration
Unit 7 Fish Words and concepts including harvesting

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Echinoderms

Echinoderm means spiny skin. Echinoderms include sea urchins, sea stars, sand dollars, sea cucumbers and some other odd organisms like feather stars and basket stars. All echinoderms have radial symmetry, spiny skin, and an endoskeleton called a test.

Most people are familiar with an orange sea star because on the east coast, that's all we've got. On the west coast and in other places around the world, it is easier to find a variety of sea stars in other colors and with different amounts of legs.

Sea stars have powerful tube feet that use water suction to open molluscs. When they eat molluscs, they actually stick their stomach into the shells of the mollusc, digest it, and then put their stomach.

Feather stars and basket stars both have crazy looking legs that they wave around to filter feed. Sea urchins and sand dollars are both covered with protective spines and eat with a scraping mouth called Aristotle's Lantern.

Sea cucumbers have lost most of their exoskeleton and are a bit squishier than other echinoderms. Sea cucumbers are important detritus eaters on the sea floor. When attacked by predators they will expel their guts as a meal for the predator as they make a get away. Sea cucumbers are able to regenerate these guts over time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Barnacles - the weirdest crustacean


BARNACLES
If you look at a diagram, barnacles are like little shrimp glued on their backs with a white fence around them. They stick their feathery legs out to filter feed plankton. They are plankton for a while and once settled and glues onto a hard substrate never move again. This makes mating difficult, but the hermaphroditic barnacles have special talents. Gooseneck barnacles have a stalk that they attach to substrates with.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shrimp

SHRIMP - miniature lobsters... use their swimmerettes to keep themselves moving - most Americans have never seen one with its head and legs still attached!

  • Gulf shrimp are the ones people most people are familiar with because these are the ones we eat!
  • Shore shrimp live in sea grasses, are fairly small and clear, and are not commercially harvested because no one would make any money.
  • Snapping shrimp (or pistol shrimp) have slightly larger claws and can use them to make sonic waves to stun their prey with sound. 
  • Mantis shrimp whack their prey with arms that can unfold and strike lightning quick. 
  • Cleaner shrimp make their living eating parasites off of fish and other sea creatures. 
One cool crustacean we have been learning about is the mantis shrimp. Mantis shrimp have folded claws like a praying mantis. They have lightning quick reflexes and shoot their arms out to smack their prey. It is said that they have enough power to break aquarium glass. If you want to see an interesting video of a mantis shrimp attacking and eating different prey - check here

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Crabs

CRABS - In general, you can tell the difference between boy crabs and girl crabs by looking at the shape of the plate on the abdomen. Boys have a thinner more pointy plate, girls have a wider more rounded plate because it is used to hold the egg mass. The mothers carry the eggs because not many predators will mess with them to get to the eggs.


  • Blue Crabs are found in the Chesapeake Bay. They are very agressive, like to pinch, but are good to eat. They have a pointy-ended shell and swim fins. (you can kind of see the swim fins on the last leg of the crabs on the right)
  • Spider Crabs have a rounder body shape, often a bumpy shell that will grow algae for camouflage, and longer more spindly legs. Spider Crabs include snow crabs and king crabs like the ones seen on Deadliest Catch. A decorator crab is a kind of spider crab that attaches stuff to its bumpy shell to blend in.
  • Fiddler Crab males have one claw that is a lot bigger than the other. This is for impressing the ladies, and used to show dominance over other males. 
  • Hermit Crabs have a weak exoskeleton and thus protect it with a stolen mollusc shell. They have adapted to this lifestyle and have modified back legs that hook on the inside to hold the shell on and one claw that is slightly larger to use as an operculum.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Intro to Crustaceans and Lobster Basics

Crustaceans have bilateral symmetry and a hard crunchy exoskeleton. Because the crustacean grows and the exoskeleton does not, crustaceans have to molt or shed their hard outercovering, exposing a new softer bigger covering that will harden in a few days.

LOBSTERS
There are two basic lobsters to be familiar with - the clawed lobster and the spiny lobster. Both are primarily scavengers. The clawed lobster has two different claws - a lighter faster shredder and a heavier more powerful crusher. The clawed lobster is more solitary because it is more aggressive. The spiny lobster does not have big claws, but can defend itself with its long whip like antennae. This lobster likes to congregate in groups and is not as aggressive. Both lobsters carry their eggs on the swimmerettes protecting them from potential predators. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unit 6 Invertebrate Overview

Invertebrates do not have backbones and make up 95% of the animals living on earth (us vertebrates are actually way way way in the minority).

We have covered molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms in larger units, but there are lots of other invertebrate phyla including three types of worms, sponges, and cnidarians.

Cnidarians include coral, jellies, and sea anemones and will be covered in Unit 10. They have radial symmetry and stinging tentacles surrounding their mouth.

Sponges in phyla Porifera have asymmetry because of their irregular shapes. Water flows in through many small pores and out large centralized openings called osculum. This is how sponges get their food and how they get rid of waste. Sponges have two types of structural support - spicules that are spiny or pointy and made of calcium carbonate and springy spongin. Sponges we use around the house used to be made of sponges harvested from the ocean that were pounded to remove the spicules. Now, plastic sponges are commonly used.

There are three types of worms - Flatworms (Platyhelminthes), R0undworms (Nematodes), and Segmented Worms (Annelids).

Flatworms (Platy-hel- minthes) are flat and ribbon like, have bilateral symmetry and include things like tapeworms, planarians, flukes, and brightly colored marine flatworms. Marine flatworms have similar adaptations to nudibranchs (molluscs), but are flat and have no tufts. They are simple animals and are often parasites.

Roundworms (Nematodes) are ubiquitous and found commonly worldwide in every biome... but they are poorly understood because they are very very small. Less than 5cm. They have radial symmetry and often are parasites. Roundworms have scary looking mouths with teeth for attaching - often used in scary movies.

Segmented Worms (Annelids) include earth-worms, leeches, bristle-worms, and christmas tree worms. They are more advanced than the other worms with segments and body organs. They have radial symmetry and tunnel through their food.

For those of you studying invertebrates, you can use these matching cards to help!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cephalopods

Today students explored the wonders of cephalopods. Cephalopod means head-foot and includes octopi, squid, cuttlefish, and the chambered nautilus.

Cephalopods are characterized by their large well developed eyes, numerous tentacles, a parrot like beak in the center of the tentacles, and well developed chromatophores in their skin that allow them to change color.

We watched numerous videos today to see and understand how and why cephalopods make ink clouds, to see how an octopus can swim with jet propulsion or use its tentacles to crawl around, and we also saw how a octopus can eat a shark!


For more information about cephalopods, check out CephBase and the Australian Cephalopod Research page.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gastropods - Snails and Slugs

Gastropod means "stomach foot" and includes all snails and anything else that makes one shell. Gastropods have one foot, one shell, and one siphon.

Some shells are spiral and have an operculum to act as a door for when they hide inside. The snail lives in the entire shell (all the way up into the top and retreats inside to hide when it feels threatened or exposed. The operculum blocks any would-be attackers and is made of a material similar to fingernails. These types of molluscs include whelks and moon snails.

Other shells are not spiral and the snail has good suction power so that predators have a difficult time pulling the snail off the rocks. These types of molluscs include slipper snails, abalones, and limpets.

Nudibranch (naked-gills) are sea slugs that have lost the ability to make a shell over evolutionary history. They are still classified as gastropods.

Even though they don't have a shell, they do however have some interesting adaptations to keep from getting eaten. Most nudibranch exhibit warning coloration because they are poisonous or have stingers - none that they make - they acquire them from the prey that they eat!

National Geographic did a great article a few years ago full of lovely photos. Both are linked here. Watch the video for a full-range spectrum of photos.

Slugs - Molluscs without shells


Sometimes my classes get a close up look at the Limax maximus, the common garden slug, and their slimy mollusc bodies. Students will look at the two sets of tentacles (eyespots and sensory tentacles) and the hole the land slug breathes through. Some will touch it to see what the slug feels like and quite a few students will let the slug slime all over them. Way to be brave!

Slugs can be considered gross because of the copious amounts of mucus they leave behind. The mucus helps them get a better grip on surfaces and helps prevent dessication, drying out. It can also make the slug more difficult to pick up by predators. More information about slugs can be found here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pearls

Pearls can be made by any mollusc that has a shell. I passed around my pearls and some shells that I have with pearls on the sides - not all pearls are free floating - they can be attached to the side of a shell.

A mollusc makes a pearl to cover an irritating spot like a piece of sand that gets inside the shell. Pearls can be "glued" to the side of the shell or free to move inside the mollsucs shell. We prefer the "free" kind.

Here is a great short video that explains the process!

Any mollusk that produces a shell can produce a pearl. Nevertheless, naturally occurring pearls are rare, found in perhaps one of every 10,000 animals. The cultured pearl industry, which has flourished since the early 20th century, has developed techniques to greatly improve these odds. Indeed, more pearls are produced now than at any time in human history.( SOURCE This is a good website for lots of information on pearls)

Computer Lab Etiquette

You are in the computer lab to do work for this class. If you are not doing work, then we will have problems.

Do not pack up early. Work until the bell or until MsJ says.

SAVE OFTEN. And if you save to a key, also save it to your number. If you lose it, you will have to do it again.

If MsJ asks for your attention, stop what you are doing and listen to what she has to say.

You may watch videos about your organism through reliable websites.

You may listen to music through the computer if you have your own headphones. Rule1 MsJ cannot hear it. You get one warning. Rule2 Turn it on and listen – no million clicks and constant changing. Take both ear phones out when MsJ is talking.