Okay, I know. You see a yellow boat. But wait, there’s a story here. This boat was in Eel Pond, just behind the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. I walked through the parking lot to get to the dock where several small boats were tied up. Stepping down onto the dock, I passed a man wearing a Marine Biology Lab ID badge. He was just standing near where the dock met the edge of the pond. There, the water was about twelve to eighteen inches deep.
I knelt down and snapped a few images of this boat. As I made my way back up the wharf, the man was looking into the water. I looked down at the sandy bottom. It was your typical twelve to eighteen inches of sea water with a sandy bottom, a few shells, and not much else.
“Look, he said, there are some fish.” I looked and there was a small school of small fish. They were each about three inches long. I spotted a single larger fish of a different species and pointed him out.
“Yeah”, he said, “but I am wondering what lives in these holes along the bottom.” I looked closer and all along the sea floor were small holes from one to three centimeters in diameter. I mentioned I’d heard there are real eels in Eel Pond. “Sure, and some good sized stripers over near those boats”, he said pointing. Eventually, he found a hole with a face pointed out but we could not tell if it was a fish or an eel.
“And if you kneel down, there are some things on the side of the wharf.” We knelt down. “The barnacles are feeding.”
Barnacles feeding? All of the barnacles that I had ever seen were on someone’s boat or a rock above the water level. They always just appeared as a white circle. But when they are in the water and feeding, a little protrusion comes out of the center, like a tongue, to catch bits of food. “And if you touch them, it will retract”, he explained.
He then went on to explain how because it was sunrise and temperatures were going up with the sun, everything in the sea was rising. Even though we were in shallow water, the nearby rising water was creating currents and stirring things up. He went on to point out some tiny sponges and a small shrimp.
Eventually, one of his colleagues came along and we had to part ways. I thanked him. The take-away of this little interaction was that what I saw as water, sand and shells, he saw as a whole ecosystem.