Discovering new species is an exciting quest, right?
Well, some parts are—but after you find a cool-looking organism that you think is a new species, there’s a lot more to be done.
Recently, a group of crab and crustacean experts locked themselves in a room together for 2 weeks to speed up the process of looking for new species among thousands of specimens collected in the Caribbean.
Calanus glacialis, among others. This giant among copepods, (the individual pictured is a whopping 6mm long) is one of the most abundant in Arctic surface waters. This animal is an important food source for cod and herring. The copepods in turn feed on phytoplankton and are believed to be one of the most important grazers in the region.
Food availability is low in the winter, so C. glacialis store up lipid deposits in their bodies while the grazing is good, and migrate to deeper water to pass the winter in a state of diapause (hibernation).
Pistol shrimps are capable of producing a powerful snap with its large claw. When in colonies, they can even interfere with sonar and underwater communication.
The animal snaps its claw with such force that it essentially evaporates water and creates a cavitation bubble. As it collapses, the cavitation bubble reaches temperatures of over 4,700 °C (8492 °F), and generates a small flash of undetectable light.
The pressure produced by the collapsing bubble is strong enough to kill small fish. The shrimp are one of the oceans loudest creatures, generating up to 218 decibels of sound (louder than a gunshot). This noise is short lived, lasting less than a millisecond.
…is a colorful species of acorn barnacle found throughout California and other areas in the North American Pacific coast. Like all barnacles M.californicus is a suspension feeder and uses its cirri which are modified legs to scoop organic material into its mouth. M. californicus is often found in the intertidal zone where it grows in large colonies of mixed species.
… is native to the Bering Sea (North Pacific). It grows to a leg span of 1.8 m (5.9 ft) and is heavily targeted by fisheries.
During the 1960s this crab was introduced into the Barents Sea (North Atlantic) to provide new, valuable catch for Soviet fishermen. While populations in the species’ native range are experiencing a steady decline, the crabs are quickly expanding in the North Atlantic raising concerns about their impacts on native communities.
also known as the globose sand crab, the purple globe crab is a species of purse crab native to the waters off of Northern Baja California. Globe crabs spend most of their days partially tucked into the seabed to hide from potential predators. Like most crabs the purple globe crab is a predator and will feed on small invertebrates and organic materials.
…is a species of burrowing shrimp endemic to the Pacific coast of North America. Like most burrowing shrimp the bay ghost shrimp constructs and lives in extensive burrow systems, these large systems are often home to a slew of other different animals. The large tunnels made by the bay ghost shrimp have become a problem in oyster production as they can mess up oyster farms and oyster farmers deem them as pests. Bay ghost shrimp are simple deposit feeders and despite their large claws feed mostly on detritus. Males have one claw that is bigger than the other which like in fiddler crabs is thought to serve a function in mating.
Clam shrimp are a group of unique bivalved branchiopods that have no relation to molluscan bivalves. Clam shrimp can be found worldwide, mostly in vernal pools and other small bodies of water, where the filter the water for passing nutrients and food. Like other branchiopods like the infamous Daphnia clam shrimp have several rows of legs which they use to swim trough the water. When threatened the clam shrimp like a true clam can close its hardy shell and will drift to the bottom until it is safe.
Peer closely at the edges of vernal pools in spring and you might see these small creatures slowly swimming along on their backs. Fairy shrimp, Order Anostraca, are only found in water bodies without fish, as they make easy targets due to their large size (average 3/4 in / 2 cm) and slow movement.
The creatures are sexually dimorphic - this is a male; females have a small pouch at the base of the tail that holds developing eggs. The eggs are extremely resistant to dessication - as the pool dries in the summer they lie dormant in the mud, but hatch quickly in the spring when the melting snow and rains fill the pool again. Many people may already be familiar with this Order of invertebrates - fairy shrimp are the freshwater relatives of brine shrimp, saltwater dwellers also known (and sold) as “sea monkeys”.
Also known as the sea roach or common sea slater, the sea slater is a species of woodlouse found near temperate waters from Norway to the Mediterranean and parts of the eastern coast of North America. Sea slaters are found in rock pools and other shoreline areas where they feed on seaweed, diatoms and marine debris.
Four new species of splanchnotrophid copepods (Poecilostomatoida) parasitic on doridacean nudibranchs (Gastropoda, Opistobranchia) from Japan, with proposition of one new genus 
Four new species of splanchnotrophid copepods are described based on specimens collected from 5 species of doridacean nudibranchs from coastal waters of Japan.
They belong to 3 genera, one of which, Majimun gen. n., is new. The parasites and their hosts are as follows: Ceratosomicola japonica sp. n. ex Hypselodoris festiva; Splanchnotrophus helianthus sp. n. ex Thecacera pennigera; S. imagawai sp. n. ex Trapania miltabrancha; and Majimun shirakawai gen. et sp. n. ex Roboastra luteolineata and R. gracilis. Ceratosomicola japonica sp. n. is the fifth species of Ceratosomicola and is characterized by the shape and armature of the prosome in females.
Both S. helianthus sp. n. and S. imagawai sp. n. are differentiated from 4 known congeners by the absence of posterolateral processes or lobes on the prosome in females, and the females of these 2 new species are separated from each other by the shape and armature of the genito-abdomen, the mandible, and the swimming legs. Majimun gen. n. is distinguished from other splanchnotrophid genera by the segmentation of the antennule as well as the combination of the following characters in females: 2 postgenital somites and the shape of the antenna, the mandible and the swimming legs.
Noises from humans like road and ship traffic, coastal development, sonar, pile driving, rowdy and drunk spring breakers have greatly altered the oceanic soundscape. These foreign noises can stress an animal as it prepares for action like fighting, hiding, or fleeing. After playing recorded ship sounds, the oxygen consumption of shore crabs (Carcinus maenus) were greater than those experience just ambient noise. In other words the ship noise made the crabs a little more crabby.
In some cases respiration was two times greater and on average was 67% higher. And fatter, ahem larger crabs, demonstrated a greater response than smaller crabs. Because larger crabs and animals in general respire more, larger crabs can also consume proportionally greater oxygen when stressed. Crabs repeatedly exposed to ship noise over two weeks eventually demonstrated less and less of stress response. One is that they simply no energy left to respond (I can only get excited once scenario) or simply acclimated to the sound when no threat presented itself (The boy who cried wolf scenario)…;
Wale MA, Simpson SD, Radford AN. 2013. Size-dependent physiological responses of shore crabs to single and repeated playback of ship noise.Biol Letters. 9: 20121194. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2012.1194
Why Connecticut Needs to Save Its Lobsters From Mosquitos
The seaside state wants to limit pesticides used on mosquitoes—which may help preserve its lobster population.
by Alison Fairbrother
A law currently under debate in Connecticut would restrict the use of two pesticides widely used to kill mosquitoes in hopes of saving the region’s dwindling lobster population.
Connecticut lobsters began suffering a precipitous decline in the late 1990s, from which they have never recovered. In 1998, 3.7 million pounds of lobsters were harvested from the Connecticut waters of the Long Island Sound. By 2002, that number was one million.
The latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows that just over 150,000 pounds of lobsters were caught in Connecticut in 2011…
Have you heard of vacancy chain theory? This is how sociologists study the transfer of discrete, reusable, and limited resources such as apartments, jobs, and cars among humans. There’s a useful model organism for this! Guess who…