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24 April, 2003

On a recent dive, the divers not also surfaced with the specimens that they intended to gather, but also with some interesting sea creatures that had attached themselves to the algae and tunicates they were collecting. I have attached pictures of all three animals. Oh, the sights and sounds you see and hear in Antarctica!

First, the divers caught some tiny, orange sea stars. The scientists here are not sure yet what species it is, so they are keeping the ones they have collected to try and identify them, perform a basic chemical analysis on them, and see if they might have some interesting potential bioactive chemistry that would be a feeding deterrent to predation.

Next, we have a mollusk, which is classified in the order of nudibranchs. We know that it is of the genus Tritoniella, but are not sure about its parcticular species. Another name for this mollusk is sea slug. A slug you find in your yard or garden at home is a mollusk. Our mollusk has an internal shell like an octopus and squid, which are also mollusks. It is bilaterally symmetrical like a butterfly.

Lastly, our skillful divers caught some isopods. These are Glytonotus antarcticus. When I asked Maggie, our research assistant, why we were keeping these to study them, she said because they were such fun critters to observe! That is reason enough for me because I have certainly enjoyed going out to the aquarium room and just watching them. These guys are omnivores and will eat just about whatever they can find and have been known to cannibalize their own kind! They have to eat twice a week to stay healthy.

Following are four websites that I think you might find interesting.

http://wow.uab.edu is a website that chronicled the research team's expedition last year.

http://www.uab.edu/uabbio/amsler.htm is the research team's ongoing homepage

http://www.uab.edu/uabbio/s022/ is the homepage of the current research being done by the team at Palmer Station.

http://scilib.ucsd.edu/sio/nsf/fguide/index.html this is a field guide of the underwater species found in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.




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