Fantastic Find Friday Take 3!

Hey plankton hunters!  Welcome to our 3rd round of Fantastic Find Friday here at Plankton Portal.  There have been so many awesome finds on the site and we picked 5 this week for you to check out.  If you see something really neat on the portal than tag it with #FFF so we can check it out for use on the blog.  Here we go!

Physonect Siphonophore— #Sipho #Corncob

http://talk.planktonportal.org/#/subjects/APK0000iu4

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This is a stunning capture of a physonect siphonophore who seems to be waving hello to ISIIS as she passes by.  Like all siphonophores, this guy here is a colonial organism comprised of many individual animals or ‘zooids.’  Each zooid is specialized and distinct, but work together so closely that they more resemble a single organism than a colony of animals.  On display here are the branching tentacles used for foraging and the swimming bells that resemble a corncob.  This one is a stunner!

Lobate Ctenophore — #Lobate

http://talk.planktonportal.org/#/subjects/APK0000l30

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This is a really neat capture of a lobate ctenophore (Ocyropsis maculata), showing off the feature that gives this guy his name.  In this image you can see clearly the internal structure and the striated texture of his muscular, gelatinous body.  Lobate ctenophores swim lobes forwards by beating the ciliated comb rows situated on the opposite (aboral) end.  The one depicted here would be swimming towards us and to the left.  I wonder if larvacean is on the menu?

Chaetognath — #Arrowworm

http://talk.planktonportal.org/#/subjects/APK0000hpr

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Looks like an arrow shot by some undersea archer, right?  Arrow worms, or chaetognaths, are carnivorous marine worms belonging to the Phylum Chaetognatha.  They are notoriously ferocious predators that hunt other plankton with the help of hooked ‘grasping spines’ that flank the mouth.  Chaetognaths have fins for propulsion and steering—you can see all of them really well in this capture!  While these fins superficially resemble those of a fish, they are not related evolutionary and are structurally very different.

Calycophoran Siphonophore — #Rocketship #Triangle

http://talk.planktonportal.org/#/subjects/APK0000k4m

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I bet NASA would get a lot more funding if they built space shuttles that looked like this!  This beautiful capture of a siphonophore really looks to me like some sci-fi monster a (horrified) astronomer might see in a telescope!  Don’t worry though, this guy is just a couple of cm’s long and probably couldn’t hurt you if he tried.  Just like the physonect siphonophore above, this guy is a colonial organism and would therefore be more appropriately referred to as guys.  The tail, or stem, on display here contains two developmental stages of siphonophore simultaneously—both the medusa and polyp stages.  Unlike most cnidarians that alternate between these stages generationally, this guy chooses to have them coexist within the same colony.  If you look closely you can see them bickering over who is the prettiest!

Calanoid Copepod — #Copepod

http://talk.planktonportal.org/#/subjects/APK00005l6

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This copepod is making a heart with his antennae! Do you think he might be in love?  There is some 13,000 species of copepod in the world and they are a crucial component of plankton communities and global ecology in general.  It has been suggested that copepods may comprise the largest animal biomass on the planet! Many species of marine life, large and small, rely on these guys as their main food source, including whales and seabirds.  Looks like this guy here is a lover not a fighter!

Looking forward to next time !

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Fantastic Find Fridays! #FFF

Today we wanted to share with you a few of the amazing critters found by the Plankton Portal Citizen Scientists! There have been many thousands of zooplankton that have been identified in just the 3 days since launch and these are some of the best captures. Every Friday we will post a selection of Fantastic Finds. If you think you have found something really neat on the portal then tag #FFF and we will check it out for use on the blog. Now, to introduce some of the beautiful zooplankton found on Plankton Portal :

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Lilyopsis rosea –#Sipho #TwoCups

The siphonophore posing for the camera in this frame is a brilliant example of some of the intricate, alien and beautiful forms of life that have evolved within the open ocean. While this guy may resemble a single ‘jelly-fish’ superficially, siphonophores are actually colonial organisms with multiple specialized bodies functioning together. What teamwork!

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Larvacean and Mucous House — #Larvacean #Larvaceanhouse

This is a great capture of a larvacean next to its elaborate and beautiful mucous house. Larvaceans are part of the Tunicate subphyla and are therefore chordates, not invertebrates like many of the zooplankton critters encountered by ISIIS. Larvaceans draw particulate matter into their mucous house by beating their tadpole-like bodies. They are known to create, discard, and remake a number of houses within the span of a single day! These houses not only help the larvacean collect food but also play an important role in the Carbon cycle as it has been recently discovered that discarded house export a significant amount of organic matter to depth.

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Thalassocalyce inconstans — #Thalasso

This dome-shaped critter may resemble a medusa but is in actuality a Comb Jelly, or Ctenophore. Thalassocalyce feeds on other zooplankton by spreading their body wide open to collect prey and contracting the bell closed as the unlucky plankton approaches the ctenophores mouth. Looks like this guy is on the hunt!

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Asexual Doliolid ‘Nurse’ — #DoliolidwithTail

Doliolids are a fascinating order of marine Tunicates with a complex life cycle that alternates between sexual and asexual generations. The beautiful guy captured in this frame will produce a huge number of asexually grown progeny that will bud off from the tail, or stalk, on display here. The barrel-shaped body of this guy here contains two siphons that facilitate filter-feeding of the matter suspended in the water column.

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Cestid Ctenophore — #Cestida

The ribbon-like critter in this image represents a very unique group of Ctenophore, or Comb Jelly. On display here are many of the features that define these zooplankters. Along the ‘top’ edge of this Cestida, you can see the comb row, a group of cilia that it uses for feeding. The mouth is seen here as an apparent crease across the middle of the organism and faces away from the comb rows. Maybe some lucky Citizen Scientist will find the other half of this guy!

We hope this has been a fun and informative introduction to a few of the many beautiful critters that ISIIS has shown us! Looking forward to the next Fantastic Find Fridays

Team introductions

We thought you’d like to know who are the scientists behind this project. So – here are a few introductions.

My name is Jessica Luo, and I am starting my fourth year as a Ph.D student at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. My research is on small gelatinous zooplankton (jellyfish and relatives) around fronts, and their vertical migration patterns. The research from this dataset forms part of my dissertation, so I’m really excited for Plankton Portal and the Zooniverse team. I recently moved from Miami to Newport, Oregon to be part of the new lab at Oregon State University. Here I am on a recent research cruise in the Mediterranean Sea:

Jessica on the Resaerch Vessel Tethys II, off the coast of France

Jessica on the R/V Tethys II this summer in the Northern Mediterranean



Adam Greer is a senior Ph.D student in our lab who’s about to defend soon. His research focuses on thin layers of zooplankton in coastal environments. He studies aggregation and the spatial relationships of organisms using ISIIS. He just got a very nice article published by the Journal of Plankton Research and made the cover! Congrats on all these achievements.

Adam scuba diving in the Caribbean

Adam scuba diving in Belize, 2011



Cedric Guigand, senior research associate in University of Miami and Charles Cousin, ocean engineer and CEO of Bellamare are the designers and developers of ISIIS. Their main contribution is to invent and built the crazy instruments that the scientists (i.e. Bob) come up in their wildest dreams! Not always easy… but always exiting! They also spent quite a bit at time at sea all over the world to help the group collect data and make sure the instruments are working well.

Adam (left) and Cedric (right) on a random friday afternoon in the lab: playing trombone

Adam (left) and Cedric (right) on a random friday afternoon in the lab: playing trombone.

Charles Cousin

Charles Cousin



Ben Grassian is a senior thesis student in our lab. He recently graduated from the University of Miami and his senior thesis was on the temporal and spatial distribution of ctenophores in San Diego. He spent an enormous amount of time identifying plankton images that helped us design the benchmark library we provided you to analyze the Plankton Portal data.

Ben_Grassian

Dorothy Tang is a research technician working on the identification of organisms in ISIIS images. Her everyday life is surrounded by plankton–looking for them, identifying them, and charmed by them. In her words, “ISIIS opens my eyes on plankton (especially zooplankton). As I learned more about different kinds of zooplankton–jellyfish, siphonophore, appendicularians and their houses, ctenophores, larval fish, etc., I appreciate them more.”

Dorothy in the Lab

Dorothy in the Lab



And the head honcho – Bob Cowen is the mastermind behind the whole lab and the one who motivates, guides and keeps us all in line. He dreamed up the concept of ISIIS over a decade ago while trying to catch rare fish larvae with nets in the Caribbean. He is now the Director of Oregon State University‘s Hatfield Marine Science Center – and enjoying life on the west coast.

Bob on a recent cruise in the Mediterranean, examining a plankton net tow

Bob on a recent cruise in the Mediterranean, examining a plankton net tow

So that’s us! You can find Plankton Portal on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus, or visit our Lab Facebook Page. Tweet us or message us any questions you may have, or even just to say hello!