Expedition blogs and news from the Shallow Marine Surveys Group

Creatures big and small

Most of the group has now left southward, returning to the Falkland Islands. The remainder will leave tonight northward, to Great Britain - except for our two intrepid plant specialists, who will stay another 7 days.

During the expedition, we have recorded literally hundreds of marine species and taken more than 8000 photographs.

The largest species encountered and photographed was probably a group of bottlenose dolphins that accompanied the boat on the way to Boatswain Bird Island. But it is likely that the fin spotted near Boatswain Bird Island belonged to a much larger animal, a whale shark. Unfortunately, by the time we put on masks and fins it had already disappeared. A mention may also be made of the passing humpback whale several members reported seeing from the shore while filling tanks. The largest creature actually captured was certainly the hawksbill turtle which was tagged, measured and released from Georgetown pierhead.

[caption id="attachment_638" align="aligncenter" width="584"] A pod of bottlenose dolphins escorted the team to their dive site near Boatswain Bird Island.

At the other end of the scale, one of the smallest creatures recorded (and captured) must have been a tiny sea slug, belonging to a group called Sacoglossa. It lives on the green alga Bryopsis,where it is perfectly camouflaged. It was first spotted well after a dive while Kostas Tsiamis was examining a sample of Bryopsis under a microscope. Peter Wirtz then managed to find further specimens during subsequent dives.

[caption id="attachment_639" align="aligncenter" width="584"] This tiny sea slug is photographed crawling on the fingertip of Peter Wirtz. As illustrated by this image, it's very difficult to tell apart from the algae on which it lives.

- Article by Peter Wirtz

What a Mess!
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Wednesday, 24 July 2024

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