Blue carbon environments, such as kelp forests are oases of diversity and contribute to carbon sequestration and nearshore nutrient cycling. In January (in the middle of an impressively cold NY winter) TAV traveled to Catalina Island to sample invertebrates associated with these habitats: amphipods (genus Peramphithoe) and isopods (genus Idotea). After finding some interesting small, circular ssDNA virus-like elements in metaviromes of these organisms, Kalia was sent back to the West Coast to collect from a different population of invertebrates.
TAV teamed up with members of the National Park Service in Ozette, a little settlement near the tip of the Olympic Penninsula. From the Ranger Station, it was a short and beautiful hike on a cedar-boardwalk trail to a sampling site (Cape Alava).
On the trek to Cape Alava!
The crew inflated rafts, donned drysuits, and paddled out to the macrocystis beds. While we were hoping for Peramhithoe, the dominant invertebrate (both in the macrocystis beds and rocky intertidal) were Idotea! It seems like fate wants TAV to study isopods.
But we didn’t stop our search at Cape Alava. The route to Seattle is dotted with public marinas and rocky intertidal shores. Several bays (including Sequim and Discovery) define the outer limits of small towns, and provide access sites to the Sound. We turned over rocks in over in every marina we passed, but these amphipods were elusive.
Eventually, after too many hours on Hwy 101 and several random conversations with confused gas station attendants about tide pool and kelp beds, we arrived at North Beach in Port Townsend. The next morning, the tide was low enough to access kelp wracks and rocky intertidal, and we were able to collect more Idotea! Later in the day, Kalia jumped in a kayak and investigated nearshore kelp beds and finally found Peramphithoe. In fact, whole multi-generational groups of Peramphithoe (up to 50 animals) were curled into long silk-like Nerocystis (bull kelp) nests. Now that the samples have made it back to the lab, it’s time for some qpcr!
Peramphithoe in Kelp Beds!