Lobsters & Polychaetes in Cudjoe Key

Originally, we were going to do some observational work with the long spine sea urchins and compare our findings to a few scientific articles that we read. However, since we were unable to locate the sea urchins, we had to come up with another activity for our class. As a group we developed the lobster experiment, which we conducted over several days. In total we spent four days and roughly twenty-eight hours executing the experiment. The experiment had its flaws, but the point was not to create the perfect experiment, but rather learn how to develop and complete one. There were many challenges involved, including obtaining useful materials and methods. In the end we obtained usable data and John Dell’Angelo decided to use the experiment for his master thesis. There will be a separate post by John giving more details.

Additionally, Cudjoe Key was also a prime location for polychaete collection. Last year, we came across a terebellidae polychaete, which is commonly known as a “spaghetti worm.” We only saw one, but at the same time we were not exactly looking for them either. This year we were and they were plentiful. We collected egg masses and several different types of polychaetes to bring back to Rutgers for study. I also learned a valuable lesson when collecting specimen in the field: come prepared! Make sure you have plenty of containers and that they are with you when you swim out, no matter how close you are to the shore! There were multiple times where I found an excellent specimen, but could not collect it because someone else had the collection containers or they were left on shore. Without having some sort of marker, it was near impossible to get back to the exact spot where you found the specimen. There was another instance where I literally collected the sample with my hands and held it while I swam against a strong current all the way back to shore so I could place it into one of the containers.