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July 14, 2008

Barely Visible — Collecting Samples


©OCEANA/ Keith Ellenbogen


Once the ‘larvae-net’ has been raised out of the water, the microscopic larvae and small animals are sifted through a fine 500-micrometer mesh net and placed into ethanol containers. The larvae samples are reviewed onboard the Marviva Med by scientist Patricia Lastra. The larvae samples will be sent to the Spanish Oceanic Institute in the Balearic Islands, Spain for final analysis and identification.

Each time the ‘larvae-net’ is hauled out of the water excitement builds within the Marviva Med crew to discover what small animals have been caught. In one sample session I am sad to report that one piece of plastic was lifted out of the net — a reminder that pollution is everywhere within our oceans.

Continuing to look for small animals using my 105mm micro lens I photographed in a Petri dish with a steady hand a small crab and shrimp with beautiful blue eyes. Additionally, within the net we discovered two tiny fish with unusual shapes as well as some larvae that we suspect (but can not yet confirm) our Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. Within the apparent clear water there is a diversity of life just on a microscopic scale.

Consider the odds of survival — from larvae state to adulthood the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna has a 1/40,000,000 (40 million) chance to reach sexually reproductive age (6-8 years).


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