Guardians of the Deep

I’d like to consider this my first blog post. Definitely, a good one to start with if that. This will be about my recent volunteering course with Kent Wildlife Trust’s Guardians of the Deep.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/marine-conservation-zones-dover-to-folkestone
Marine Conservation Zones: Dover to Folkestone.

June 4th, I participated in a species identification workshop; identifying Sea Sponges, Hydroids and Bryozoans. All specimens were collected on Guardians of the Deeps Sea-search dive in the Dover to Folkestone Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ). This inshore MCZ site was announced on 17th January 2016, covering an area of 20 km2.

Hydroids

Hydroids are a life stage for most animals of the class hydrozoa (hydrozoans), described as small predators commonly related to jellyfish. In ecology, the history of studying hydroids has only been briefly outlined. A good read (if you can access it) by Ferdinando BoeroThe Ecology of Marine Hydroids and Effects of Environmental factors: A Review” clearly outlines the importance of studying this species.

Bryozoa

Also known as the Polyzoa, Ectoprocta or commonly as moss animals, are tiny (typically 0.5 millimeters in length), colonial organisms. Although my interest during this workshop towards them, there simply wasn’t enough time for me to study them. Though I did get some pictures of ones identified by my peers.

Sea Sponges

During the workshop I decided to work specifically on the sea sponge specimens, being one of the world’s simplest multi-cellular living organisms, the sponge’s scientific classification is Porifera, meaning “pore-bearing”, referring to its tiny openings or holes visible on all sponge species.

Dysidea Fragilis

Dysidea fragilis was a species I identified on the day via its skeletal structure. Dysidea takes up sand grains from its surroundings to make up its skeletal structure, thus this being what I found in the sample. Prior to this workshop, my undergraduate dissertation was based on identifying the inorganics of microplastic pollution from sand (beach) samples. The paper by Hidalgo-Ruz et al. helped with the methodology used for identification of microplastics in the marine environment. Thus my knowledge in this area was still very fresh during this workshop. Under the microscopic examination, I noted to the specialist that there were inorganics in the sample, which he confirmed and couldn’t identify himself.

Which prompted my theory that could Dysidea fragilipotentially be intaking inorganics, such as microplastics, to make up its skeletal structure? It a plausible theory, but the inorganics in the sample could just be where the sponge has grown in a polluted area. I hope to address this theory and further examine it in Master’s dissertation.

Thank you for reading.

emma

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