Greetings from Antarctica! I am standing on the back deck of our ship, the Laurence M. Gould, preparing to launch our net system. We are using the net to catch a variety of small marine animals that are collectively called zooplankton. We lower the net into the water behind the boat with a crane. There is a big weight attached to the bottom of the net that helps make it sink. After the net is in the ocean, we slowly drive forward for about 20 minutes. Then, we haul the net back up to the surface with the crane and see what we caught!
This cool looking animal just came up in the net. It is a type of zooplankton, but I’m not sure what species. Due to its small size, it gets trapped in the surface tension of seawater and when it dives down bubbles become attached to its body. Zooplankton can be hard to identify because many are so small and similar looking, but let’s try our best using this dichotomous key:
IDAntarctica Week 2 Dichotomous Key – Zooplankton
For more information on how to use a dichotomous key, please read my blog entry from last week I.D. Antarctica #1.
What do you think it is? Select an answer below. I’ll post the answer on Friday, January 24th – be sure to check back then!