Zostera marina is a seagrass species, commonly known as eelgrass, that is found on both coasts of the United States, as well as in Europe. Unfortunately, Zostera is disappearing all over the place, including right here in New York. This could have devastating impacts on animals that rely on eelgrass as foraging grounds, or, as is the case with scallops, use it as a refuge from predation. This is its story, as seen through the eyes of an aspiring graduate student...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Scallops?! You wanna talk about scallops?!

So I went to measure my scallops on Tuesday for my growth experiment, which if I had to say, is going fairly well. I conducted a similar experiment last year and ended up with good results, so I added more mats this year and hoped to see much of the same.

It was a long day (at Southold by 8:30, leave the dock by 9:30, back tot he dock by 5:30, leave Southold by 6:30), and I ended up that night with a killer headache, ended up sleeping for 12 straight hours, which never happens to me, but that is a horse of a different color. The water has cooled down considerably, but it was none-the-less a nice day diving on my grass mats.

As soon as I got to the bottom, I saw a huge winter flounder, we are talking dinner for 4 (well maybe not quite that big, but big), and of course I didn't have my catch bag or my camera, but I still tried to grab it by its tail and it swam away. Aside from the flounder, the usual suspects were all out - tautog, cunner, porgies, sticklebacks, gobies, spider crabs, mud crabs, and even blue crabs. And this knobbed whelk, crawling along the bottom, leaving his mucous trail along the way.

Oh, and adult scallops. I found one in my mat that at first glance looked like a really big seed. As it turned out, it was a scallop with a small growth ring, sometimes called nub scallops. These scallops are usually spawned late in the year (October) and only grow a few millimeters until their growth stops for the winter. The next season, they catch up to the other scallops, and end up around the same size. I also saw this guy, who was posing for pictures.

All in all, nice day on the water, and my scallops are looking good.

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