Exploring the microscopic at Carmel Point, CA


Hi Foldscope community! We are back for a second Foldscope post with some microvideography from the land of infinite wonder – the marine intertidal.

On a class trip to collect abundance data for California’s LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) at Carmel Point, Carmel, CA, I collected some 50-milliliter water samples from the low- and mid-intertidal zones. What diversity! Phytoplankton, zooplankton and their close relatives the micronekton abound here. An example of a species straddling the line between planktonic (free-floating) and nektonic (swimming) organisms is this amphipod that I was lucky enough to scoop up (I mistakenly called him a copepod in the video).

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Amphipods are miniature crustaceans, much like krill. They feature a segmented body but lack a large piece of shell towards the front of their body called a carapace.  Download and check out the video below to see more!


Amphipods are usually detritivores, meaning that they eat dead and decomposing organisms like plankton and algae.  Lucky for them, the rocky intertidal undergoes frequent disturbances from waves, storms and exposure, freeing up all kinds of organic matter for these guys to munch on.

Thank you for reading!  Keep an eye out for more posts in the near future.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Love the video. I would also initially thought it was a copepod. Can you state exactly what the features to distinguish are?

    Also; I notice your light illumination is good a but it can be better. I think your light module is too far away from the sample. Also; a simple “transparent 3M tape” makes the background truly uniform. Something that’s really nice to have – see prior post below:


    Excited to see more of your wonderful explorations.


    1. jcline says:

      Thank you so much Manu! You are correct about the lighting in this post – I was away from home and had forgotten my go-to light source (a headlamp with a built-in diffuser). Uniform illumination is one of the things I’ll be keeping an eye on in my next post.

      Amphipods can be distinguished as crustaceans by their segmented body (most crustaceans have 13 segments but this varies with species). Their body also curves, often making them look like tiny shrimp. Copepods, on the other hand, have short, cylindrical bodies and only 3-5 thoracic segments. Copepod actually means “oar-legged”, so good identifiers are the long legs they use to propel themselves through the water. Additionally, they lack a carapace, or the large piece of shell towards the front of many crustaceans’ bodies.

      Cheers, and thank you again!

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