Deploying barnacle settlement plates

As the northeast slowly starts to shrug off the shackles of winter, the barnacles decide to start spawning their planktonic larvae that float around for a few days, looking for a place to settle. We use barnacles in experiments all the time, so we set out little granite tiles in the field in central Maine to give the barnacle cyprids (larvae) a place to settle and metamorphose. We can then return in a few weeks and bring the tiles back to the laboratory, where the barnacles continue to grow until we use them in an experiment. Unfortunately, doing all of that means that we have to head to Maine in March, then get up at the crack of dawn, put on every warm piece of clothing you own, and drive a skiff up the coast to work in freezing weather while the tide is low.

Here’s the condensed version of our settlement plate deployment for 2011. A high-def version is available on YouTube.

The photos were taken every 10 seconds, and the movie covers approximately 3 hours of work. In that time we put out roughly 300 tiles. You’ll see Catherine Matassa in all-orange, James Douglass in orange/black, and yours truly in the German army jacket having trouble with my socks once in a while.