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Collecting Samples for BAMZ

Royal Gazette

By Lisa Ray
Published June 7, 2013 at 8:00 am

The crew and research team on-board the 72ft Sea Dragon expedition ship are currently undertaking two expeditions from the Island to find out more about the Sargasso Sea. The Sea Dragon is operated by Pangaea Explorations, and has sailed around 50,000 miles over the last two years as part of a series of research expeditions in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

During the missions the team are sending a daily blog, with photographs, explaining what they have been doing and what they have found.

Here is the most recent update from the Sea Dragon.

When Wolfgang offered the Aquarist’s a spot on the Sea Dragon, it was thought this would be a great opportunity to venture to the open ocean to collect specimens for our ‘Sargassum Exhibit’, here at BAMZ.

This would prove especially beneficial since the vessel we normally collect in, was currently out of water due to 

annual boat maintenance, plus the fact that Sargassum weed isn’t normally found close inshore, in bulk, at this time of year.

I believed making time for this trip was important. I’m really glad that I did. Not only did the collecting pay off, but the opportunity to network and team build with a great selection of people proved rewarding.

The bulk of my collection was the actual ‘Sargasso weed’ itself. Of the two species associated with Bermuda, the one we collected is the most Common (Sargassum natans). It differs from the less common one (Sargassum fluitans) by have small spines on its blades.

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Olivia Drescher assists Lisa Ray in the
search through the sargassum weed

I was fortunate enough to also secure both species of fish associated with Sargassum rafts. The small angler fish, known as the ‘Sargassum fish; (Histrio, histrio), as well as the Pugnose Pipefish (Syngnathus pelagicus).

This Sargassum fish species can attain a length of 6 inches, but the majority of the 5 specimens that I obtained were ½ inch with one exception being an inch in length. These critters’ colour, camouflage them so well among the Sargassum and their fins resemble Sargassum fronds.

The Pipefish is a very slender fish, which is closely related to the Seahorse. These fish can obtain a length of 4.5 inches; the specimens we found were about an inch in length.

The most abundant of critter happened to be the very common Sargassum crab (Planes minutes). Sizes ranged from ¼ to ¾ of an inch, in length. The other species of crab collected was the Sargassum Swimming crab (Portunus sayi). These swimming crabs have broad hind limbs which are modified for swimming.

Also abundant in these critter collection of Sargassum weed, were many, very small, shrimps, of a few varying species.