Exploration: Fluorescence at the Seacoast Science Center

From NIGHTSEA founder Charles Mazel:

On October 9, 2014, I gave a presentation on fluorescence in the sea at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH.  I wanted to include some local color in the presentation so I went up to the Center a couple of weeks in advance and explored fluorescence in three ways – in the exhibits inside the Center; with our Model SFA Stereo Microscope Fluorescence Adapter looking at sand scooped from the nearby beach; and after dark at low tide. This was also just a great opportunity (excuse) to get out in the field, have some fun, and see what fluorescence I could find. Here is the result of that work.

First the exhibits. Here is a small hermit crab plus a larger one. The first three pictures show the same crab – one picture with white light illumination, then fluorescence.

(Click any image for larger view)

Hermit crab, fluorescence (c) Charles Mazel

A chain catshark from a touch tank, in white light and fluorescence.

A small octopus (Octopus vulgaris) living inside a shell.

Now we move on to the microscope exploration at the cove just south of Odiorne Point. I only had a short time so I just worked with one quick scoop of sand/gravel from the cove. The first shot shows the equipment setup. I have a Motic SMZ 168 stereo microscope with trinocular head set up on a folding camp table, surrounded by the Eclipse MicroTent™ to create my own little private island of darkness. The SFA is low powered so I can run it with a small battery pack. You can see the camera, mounted to its adapter, poking out of the tent. The first thing I saw was a little brightly fluorescent critter (no, I have no idea what it was, so it was just a critter). It moved around a lot, making it tough to photograph with the exposure times I needed, on the order of a second. The photo pairs show another small animal (just a couple of millimeters) and algae on a rock.

And finally the low tide exploration after dark. I waded around using a blue light for illumination while wearing a pair of yellow barrier filter glasses so that anything that fluoresced would stand out in the darkness. Check the third picture pair below. In the white light image you can see some sand, small rocks, and floating algae. Nothing much else jumps out. But in fluorescence you can see the heads and antennae of several shrimp mostly buried in the sand. There are some additional shots of shrimp below that. Most have a glowing orange area, but not all. Perhaps gut contents?