Ecology Live - chatter about the lives of plants and animals
Well, I’ve done it… Ecology Live is now live! Motivated by listening to Siouxsie Wiles, Derek March and Veronika Meduna on a recent episode of Radio NZ’s weekly science show, Our Changing World, I’m making my first blog post about the natural world which we ecologists study.
Veronica was on a trip with experts Siouxsie and Derek to a Waitakare stream in Henderson, West Auckland, to see New Zealand’s amazing glow-in-the-dark limpet Latia neritoides. You can listen to the show here and read about their trip here, but their adventure reminded me of another trip which Jon Harding and I did to a similar stream a few years ago.
Jon, a fellow freshwater ecologist from the FERG (Freshwater Ecology Research Group) at UC, and I were also hoping to track down some Latia limpets and hopefully get some photographs of their bioluminescence. They weren’t hard to find, and they do indeed glow very impressively in the dark! Getting photographs of their bioluminescent mucus was another matter, however, especially when we had one night on the way to the NZ Freshwater Sciences Society annual conference which was being held on Waiheke Island that year.
The results of our labours are below, and in the interactions & food webs gallery of Ecology Live. The limpets emit bioluminescent mucus, probably as a defence mechanism, when disturbed. To get the images we transferred some limpets on their rocks to an aquarium in a motel, and then set about trying the get the light right so we could capture their wonderful green glow at the same time as seeing the limpet. I’d like to have another go, but for now here is the best of the images.
Thanks very much to Jon Harding for being very good to disturbing limpets while I tried to capture things on camera. We didn’t get in trouble with the motel owner, but they must have wondered what the deal was with all the shouting, camera flashes and piles of buckets rocks etc!
It also seems like the people can go and see the glowing limpets for themselves on night tours at this year’s EcoWest Festival which runs until April 12 2015.