September 7, 2008
I extracted a wonderful brittle star from a coral head today. This was the first one I have seen up close. I carefully handled it and placed it one of our water-filled plastic tubs. Brittle stars can move quickly by moving their long, thin, banded arms. I found this out when I tried getting it out of the coral. Each arm is covered with lots of small stiff bristles. Their arms also wrap around whatever it is on. The center disc of their body is soft.
When I got back to the lab, I spoke to Fred about is algae collection. He was also a diver in this group and went out often to dive. With many of his specimens he pressed them using herbarium paper between sheets of newspapers and cardboard. He would stack these up in layers and on top of all this he put weights. The stacks could be as high as a foot. Fred also turned on a fan to speed up the drying processes. The fan would run 24 hours a day.
With some of the algae he would place them in petri dishes to dry out because they were too thick to press.
Then others he would directly put them into jars. All of the specimens were going back with him to the South Australian Herbarium. He worked long hours on his research.
The space in the laboratory is started to get filled up with specimens and at times it is hard to move around when everyone is in there. I guess this is a good sign!