It has been wintertime, but does that mean our zooplankton nets are empty? Not at all, we had some surprises indeed! Over this time, we had many pieces of kelp turning up in our nets. Now, when they are big, this is not a real problem, although we need to make sure their animals are not counted as zooplankton (while they go for a ride, they could not possibly hope to be zooplankton!) However, with all the storms we have had lately, the kelp pieces are not necessarily big anymore. No indeed, they have turned into confetti! This makes sampling interesting, and hard. Mainly because we are looking for fish larvae which are now turning up in the water column – try find the fish larvae in the photo! We also had the privilege of having the amazing help of a FICS student to help sort and count many of our zooplankton samples.
Surprising catches in the zooplankton nets. We caught many a piece of kelp, including big ones (top, you can see various kelp-associated amphipods and isopods in the tray too), but it becomes more challenging when these pieces look more like confetti (bottom). A beautiful surprise was a siphonophore (right), a gelatinous carnivorous colonial animal
It does make you wonder about these effects on zooplankton (imagine having to dodge all those pieces floating around while looking for your food!) and the frequency of these occurrences. We collected over 200 fish larvae and photographed them all to support Rhian’s thesis on the zooplankton of the Falkland Islands. Besides the amazing zooplankton animals, we saw some bigger ones, too.
The Falkland cetaceans deserve a supervision award - they are constantly visiting our boat while we are working, to much delight of the researchers.