27 Jan 2012

Worms and Stars and Lots of Water

By Claire Eamer

I fell in love with marine critters long ago when I was taking a summer-school biology course at the University of British Columbia. The highlight of the course was a field trip to Long Beach, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

We did intertidal transects: surveys of organisms along a line from the low tide line to the high tide line. I spent hours balancing on barnacle-covered rocks while trying to keep the waves out of my rubber boots, crouching over tidepools and watching for the movements of tiny crabs, struggling to identify and count anemones and clumps of seaweed -- and generally having a blast!

How can you not fall in love with marine invertebrates? Gooseneck barnacles, sea anemones, crabs, limpets, worms, sea stars: the variety of ways marine organisms have solved the fundamental problems of eating, growing, and reproducing astonishes and delights me.

When I started researching science books for kids, I fell in love with marine invertebrates all over again, especially when I was researching my book SPIKED SCORPIONS AND WALKING WHALES, which is all about life, evolution, and water.

That's when I discovered a whole new group of species to adore. Over the last few years, scientists have been venturing deeper and deeper into the sea, either in person or via remote-controlled vehicles loaded with cameras and sensing gear. They've found organisms we've never seen before in habitats we never imagined.

The discoveries just keep coming. Early in January 2012, pictures were released of amazing new creatures from a volcanic vent in the deep ocean off Antarctica. A few weeks earlier, it was other new species from the depths of the Atlantic. There are too many discoveries to list, so I'm posting some links where you can go and admire them for yourselves. Enjoy!

Pictures from the mid-Atlantic: here and here

Creatures from the Indian Ocean: here and here

Discoveries in the Antarctic: here

And a whole collection of stories and pictures: here

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