Is it a gelatine-based dessert from the 1960s? Or a daisy pattern on a dress? Maybe it’s a space monster from the newest Star Trek flick?
Under the microscope, things can start to look … a little weird. This was discovered recently by students from across Haida Gwaii who took part in a series of aquatic invasive invertebrate identification labs. The labs were set up by staff from the CHN’s Haida Oceans Technical Team, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Gwaii Haanas, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to teach students what aquatic invasive species are, how they are different from native species, and what to do if they spot one in Haida Gwaii waters.
Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary School hosted the lab which was visited by students from Tahayghen Elementary and Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay. The lab featured high-powered microscopes with a massive zoom range brought to the school by the Smithsonian Institute and DFO. They also brought a “portable laboratory” made up of dissection microscopes borrowed from local schools and non-profit organizations and samples of invasive species to Island classrooms, including GidGalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School, Port Clements Elementary and Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary.
“The grade two students were surprised that the invasive tunicates were animals because they don’t look like most of the animals that they are familiar with,” said Guud Hltanguu Marcie Watkins. “It was also kind of a big deal for the students to have access to high-quality microscopes and to meet real live scientists.”
In addition to holding the labs, the team put on a public presentation in Massett on Tuesday, October 18. The presentation was given by Vanessa Hodes from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Linda McCann from the Smithsonian Institute and people learned about aquatic invasive invertebrate species detection, monitoring, and how to prevent the spread of them on the north-west coast. The audience was also treated to an up close and in person view of squidgy-looking tunicates, a pregnant Japanese skeleton shrimp Caprella mutica, and other fascinating aquatic invasive species!