This past week was the time to collect over 100 individuals of the fluffy sea anemone, Metridium senile, for my experiments on environmental limitations at the Akkeshi Marine Station (Hokkaido University). Fortunately, a similar experiment on the same species has previously been done by a member of the lab, Haruka, so she was ready and willing to assist me in tracking down a large number of anemones. With ecological experiments, there are always two big steps unlike in medical research labs: collection and experimentation. The key thing is to always leave ample time for collection, just in case the target organism isn't where it's expected to be.
Our first location was in Abashiri, where they had previously collected the anemones off of scallops using scallop fishing boats. This species prefers to attach to a hard substrate, and the scallop shells allow them to do that. The scallop fishermen were going out to collect data on the scallops and pull up substrate samples for Tokyo Agricultural University, so we were welcome to join and get our anemones. Several years ago using this method, they had collected over 150 anemones; however, we did not have as much luck and collected around 50 very small, orange anemones. Still useful, just not enough for all the experiments I am planning on doing.
Most importantly about our trip to Abashiri was that I drove half of the time and I always turned into the correct lane!
So, on Wednesday, I headed out to another source of bivalves: oyster aquaculture in Lake Akkeshi. Here, after swimming around a little in my drysuit and discovering a very soft unsuitable sediment and cleaned lines, we took the boat over to some lines that hadn’t been cleaned, pulled them up using the hook, and hit the jackpot. Plenty of anemones to go around – large, small, orange, brown, white. Luckily, I am now only two days behind where I thought I would be!
Now these are acclimating to life in the lab for a week before starting the experiments next week!