Happy New Years! Plus a European surprise…

Oysters of the Northeast

Wondering what you are looking at in the pages above?

Well, I wanted to let you in on a discovery the naturalists at Star Island made last year. Several times in the harbor between Smuttynose and Malaga and on Star’s swimming beach we found mysterious loner oysters. Some of you stopped in the lab and saw them.

European or edible oyster (Photo courtesy of massoyster.org)

European or edible oyster (Photo courtesy of massoyster.org)

Others of you no doubt know, most oysters naturally grow in estuarine bodies of brackish water. Together a group of oysters is commonly called a bed or oyster reef which provides home for hundreds of animals such as sea anemones, barnacles and hooked mussels.

After researching the oysters in Life Between the Tides: Marine Plants and Animals of the Northeast, we realized they were the edible (or European) oyster. These oysters were brought to Maine to foster an aquaculture industry unlike the differently shaped Eastern oyster also found in the Gulf of Maine.

As the book says:

Although scientists thought the Maine water temperatures were too cool in the summer for this species to reproduce, they have found occasional individuals in unusual places, suggesting that reproduction and survival may have occurred…

The oysters have spread as far South as Rhode Island. Pretty cool right? What other well-known species in the Gulf of Maine are invasive? Leave us a comment or question if you know. And have a happy new year!

Watling, L., Fegley, J., & Moring J. (2003) Life Between the Tides: Marine Plants and Animals of the Northeast. Tilbury House, Gardner, ME.


Happy Holidays from RML

Hope you are all having wonderful holidays. In the midst of winter, we’d like to thank you (particularly our volunteers and committee members) for a wonderful year and all you’ve done to help make the Rutledge Marine Lab  amazing in 2013. We look forward to a great year ahead and seeing you all on Star Island.

As thanks, I wanted to share with you this good cheer from our friends over at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). WHOI engineer Justin Fujii used electrical tape and a little magic to make the AUV Sentry resemble a certain jolly old elf!


The autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry got a festive “makeover” aboard R/V Atlantis this month. (Photo courtesy of Allison Heater, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of California Santa Cruz and Moss Landing Marine Laboratory have been using Sentry and other ROVs to sample fluid emitted from a hydrothermal system called the Dorado Outcrop on a three-week cruise off Costa Rica.

The Dorado Outcrop is located within a 14,500-km2 region of cool seafloor, where 60–90% of the lithospheric heat is removed advectively. In other words, this seep is a relatively “cool” (10–20°C) fissure from which heated water issues (at least compared to other such sea floor vents). Often life thrives in such places.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, our committee has asked for donations of the following items to help the lab continue to improve this coming summer.

– A new desk-top computer
– Plankton nets
– Any fishing gear
– Masks and snorkels (nice ones for adults)
– An open ROV kit
– Dissolved Oxygen meter
– Flat screen television
– Audubon field guides for seashore animals, invertebrates and fish in the North Atlantic

Atlantis returned with “Santa Sentry” to Costa Rica December 23, just in time for Christmas. Sentry is an example of an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that operates without requiring input from a remote operator or needing to be “tethered.” In contrast, more common remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) are tethered to a ship for operation. Find more of WHOI’s pictures of the day here.

Happy holidays everyone.

In case the link for WHOI is hard to follow, find it here: http://www.whoi.edu/imageOfDay.do