Last week my roommate and I headed to the harbor here in Monterey, CA. We were on a mission to find some plankton, and we succeeded!
It was my first time using the foldscope on live animals so there was some troubleshooting involved (mainly, figuring out how to avoid crushing the animals on the slide). After I figured that part out, I found this great crustacean – we had no idea what it was! After googling around a bit I think it might be a copepod on its side. Any plankton experts out there? It looked red while it was swimming around in the water, so I was surprised to see how yellow it was up close. Love how detailed all of those appendages are! You can see why it was such a successful swimmer with all those moving parts.
My roommate had pulled up a kelp crab molt in her plankton net and it was covered in one of my favorite invertebrates in the world – the Caprellid, or skeleton shrimp!
They are actually not shrimp but rather a different type of crustacean called an amphipod. They cling to seagrass, kelp, and apparently floating crab molts! I’ve always thought they moved just like those blow-up dancing guys at car dealerships.
So I pulled one off and took a look!
This time I made a bigger platform in order to avoid squishing the guy. And it worked out pretty well!
Having never looked so closely, I was surprised to see the spine on its head. I believe that spine makes it a Caprellid californica. I got a great view of its gnathopods (feeding appendages). Google tells me that the last picture is its gills – I had no idea that’s what I was looking at! I also loved seeing its pigment up close. Next time I’ll spend more time setting up my lighting to get an even better look at the colors. What a neat look at one of my favorite little animals.