Week 12: Bryozoa and continental shelves

Week 12: Bryozoa

We are up to week 12 now! Great work! Once you finish this week you are one third of the way through the course!

Now on to bryozoa!

Bryozoans are important,  interesting, and frequently overlooked creatures. Though they are very common, chances are most of us have either never noticed one before, or have seen one but didn’t realized what it was. I know my eyes have definitely been opened by learning to recognize these cryptic critters.

Our reading for this week is chapter 9: Bryozoans. There are very few pages to this chapter, so reading is light this week. Most of your work will be getting out with your local guides, searching for bryozoa specimens, sketching them in your notebook, and attempting to identify them.

  1. Copy the diagram of the bryozoan anatomy (Seaside Naturalist p91, top of page)  into your notebook, and label the parts.
  2. To see some good photos of a variety of bryozoa, check out this link: Bryozoa.net photos.
  3. Once you’ve looked at the photos, read the short Seaside Naturalist chapter, and looked through your field guides to become familiar with your local fauna, get out and search for bryozoans. Look on the surface of seaweed (particularly on sargassum)  as well as rocks and shells for the lacy, intricate patterns of encrusting bryozoa. Check mangrove roots, dock pilings, and other likely locations for branching colonies. Hunt through the wrack line for washed up specimens of what look like bleached out or reddish-brown seaweeds.Look closely and see if they may actually be bryozoans.
  4. Take a look at an encrusting colony under a microscope or good hand lens and examine the interlocking patterns of zooids. Draw what you see.
  5. If you find some bryozoans in their natural, undisturbed state, try to observe the lophophore in action (snorkeling may be the best way to approach this if your water is still warm enough). Record your observations in your notebook.
  6. Since the information in the Seaside Naturalist is so scant, you will have to rely on your local field guides to identify the bryozoans you find. Good luck and do the best you can. And please don’t forget to share your find with us here!
  7. ps. Are you working on your shell collection???

Continental Shelves

Considering that the continental shelves provide 90% of the fisheries production worldwide, there is no doubt that they are a significant region of the ocean (both biologically and economically) and worthy of our attention. So lets get to it!

  • Read the basics about continental shelves here.
  • Since continental shelves are so economically important, there are a lot of laws regarding the rights of various countries to the resources on and in the continental shelves. Take a minute to explore the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea . Copy the diagram of territorial waters into your notebook.
  • What do you think? Is this a fair way to divvy up the bounty of the sea? Is it equitable that landlocked countries have so few rights to offshore resources? Where should international boundaries be drawn on the oceans, and why? Write a short opinion piece explaining your views on this issue. Support your opinions with facts.
  • It’s not just fish for dinner. Read about marine-derived “Superfoods” here. What do you think? Are we ready to put these “functional foods” on our table?

For younger Fieldworkers:

  • Learn about the continental shelves with this interactive activity.
  • Make a list of all of the products in your home (or take a trip to the grocery store, or look through a grocery store ad) which come from the continental shelves. See how many you can find. How many does your family eat in one week? In one month? In one year?

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