Arctic things, Blog, Boulder Patch, FFF

Field Find Friday: a Threefer

Welcome to Field Find Friday, where I highlight some neat things I found in the field that week. This is my third Friday in the field this year, but my first FFF post, so there are three finds!


Saduria entomon

One of the most charismatic critters in the coastal Arctic Ocean, we find these guys wherever there is soft sediment (which is basically everywhere). They come up wiggling in our mud grabs on the ship, and can be seen cruising around or hiding in mud burrows in the Boulder Patch. Sometimes, you can even find them mating, the male grabbing onto the top of the female. Related to roly-polies, these marine isopods are ‘detritivores’, meaning that they are scavengers. They’re nicknamed ‘Toe biters’.

Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)


The largest species of duck in North America! I spotted this well-hidden nesting female on Narwhal island a couple of days ago. These ducks breed in the arctic in the summer, then fly a bit south for the winter. When they females leave their nests, they leave behind super soft down:


The males and females have very different plumage (an example of sexual dimorphism), as you can see here:


Odenthalia dentata*

*with some Phycodrus rubens in the mix, ignore it


This fleshy red algae is quite common in the Boulder Patch and is found throughout the Arctic and Subarctic. The species is especially cool for taxonomy nerds because it is what is called a ‘type species’. Type species are what a genus is based on (remember humans are genus Homo, species sapien). If someone discovers a species that is closely related to Odenthalia dentata, that new species will be added to the genus Odenthalia. Conversely, if a species previously in the genus Odenthalia is determined to be more distantly related to Odenthalia dentata than originally thought (happens all the time now with the rapid increase in genetic studies), that species has to be given a different genus name.


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