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Besides tubeworm, mussel, and coral communities we have also found sea urchin fields. These consist of large areas with dense urchins burrowing through the mud and frequently leaving visible trails of black-stained sediments. We know that urchins have an effect on meiofauna communities but don’t know if this effect is the result of the physical disturbance of the sediment or because of predation of meifauna by urchins. In order to test this we are using a toilet brush as an artificial urchin to mimic the movement of an urchin through sediment without allowing predation to be a factor. Here you can see Jason’s manipulator arm gently guiding the artificial urchin through the sediment on the edge of a dense urchin field. Video courtesy of Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007, NOAA-OE.

 

Related Links

Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007

Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007: June 21 Log

NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery