The Science Team is currently out in the field in the Straits of Florida, on the R/V Walton Smith, sampling with both ISIIS and MOCNESS (Multiple Opening Closing Net and Environmental Sampling System), on an 18-day cruise titled OSTRICH (Observations on Subtropical TRophodynamics of ICHthyoplankton).
The overall goal of this NSF-sponsored project is to quantify the patterns and consequences of the fine-scale to sub-mesoscale distributions of larval fishes, their prey, and their predators near and across a major western boundary current passing through the Straits of Florida. By sampling a series of water masses at very high resolution, this study addresses specific hypotheses concerning: i) the drivers of aggregations and patchiness, and ii) the biological consequences of predator-prey interactions at fine scales.
Sample ISIIS images showing diversity of plankton from multiple coastal sites (including the Southern California Bight!)
Sampling involves a novel combination of detailed in situ sampling of the horizontal and vertical distributions of plankton, targeted fine-scale net sampling, and analyses of individual-level recent daily larval growth to enable the identification of the biological and physical processes driving fine-scale plankton distributions.
Follow along on the ISIIS facebook page as we periodically post updates (via our terrible internet connection at sea!) and also check out this cool video made by one of our cruise participants, Chris Muiña:
Also known as Comb jellies or sea gooseberries. The name comes from the Greek Ctena (comb) and Phora (bearer). They first appeared more 500 million years ago!
A little Beroida
These are plankton predators which can swim with the help of a several rows of cilia. Some catch their food with long fishing tentacles laden with sticky cells (colloblast) like the #Cydippids.
Cydippid showing its deadly tentacles
Others can engulf their meal directly like the #Lobates. They can consume anything from other ctenophores, copepods to fish larva. The weirdest of all is the #Cestida which body plan is totally flat, yet it has all the attributes the Ctenophore group!
Lobate ctenophore ready to engulf anything in its path.
Cestida the weirdest of all. it body is flat and shaped like a ribbon
One species (Mnemiopsis Leidyi) was accidentally introduced in the black sea via ship ballast water coming from the Atlantic Ocean. Result: local fisheries collapsed due to M. Leidyi appetite for fish larvae.
Here is an amazing Ctenophore video from our Plankton Chronicles colleagues. Shimmering waves of light, stalking their prey, ctenophores are on the move.
Plankton Chronicles Project by Christian Sardet, CNRS / Noe Sardet and Sharif Mirshak, Parafilms
See Plankton Chronicles interactive site: planktonchronicles.org