Monday, October 28, 2013

Gifts from the MaST Center

Guests who were around at Pacific Science Center’s Salt Water Tide Pool at noon Friday got the wonderful experience of meeting a bevy of new creatures.

Staff and volunteers from Highline Community College’s MaST (Marine Science and Technology) Center led by Kaddee Lawrence, with expert information from Rus Higley, hand delivered a group of exciting Puget Sound organisms. These new residents are for us to share with anyone who wants to learn more about the diversity of our regional shoreline.

In addition to bringing an infusion of bright color, the animals are an assorted mix of species. Best of all, they are a mix of non-aggressive animals that will not try to eat each other.

Many of the sea stars in our collection are Pisaster species, among the most predacious of all creatures in the intertidal zone. Yet, we love how durable they are, and how happily they eat readily available shellfish. With the new sea star species, we hope to have animals that are easily cared for and unlikely to eat other members of the exhibit. If these sea stars do well, the folks at MaST have offered to help us replace our current Pisaster population with these less hungry brethren. We will then plan a second round of new animals to include chitons, limpets and other animals that easily get eaten. Already our exhibit is more diverse by the addition of:

2 - Red sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus)
1 - Purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus)
1 - California sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus)
1 - Kelp crab (Pugettia productus)
2 - Vermillion sea star (Mediaster aequalis)
2 - Blood stars (Henricia leviuscula)
1 - Mottled star (Evasterias troscheli)
1 - Sun star (Solaster dawsoni)
25 - Plumose anemone (tiny)(Metridium sp)
2 - Swimming anemone (Stomphia coccinea)

We can’t say “thank you” enough to the scientists at MaST. However, if you find yourself down in Des Moines, at Redondo Beach on a Saturday morning, stop by and thank them for us! The program hosts a weekly open aquarium, where the public meets their animals and their wonderful staff and volunteers. This is a great way to extend your knowledge of marine life.

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