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Meet the Ostracod!

Category: General Article

Back to Creep into the DEEPEND

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summary: What’s all head and spits light? It’s a tiny invertebrate called an ostracod as described by Dr. Heather Judkins.

Hello Virtual Science Team!

I love the invertebrates — squid, crabs, jellyfish, and seastars. Invertebrates make up 98% of all living animals on Earth, which is astounding!

We pull up lots of invertebrates in our samples. One invertebrate we find that I think you’ll like is the ostracod. As you can see, an ostracod isn’t much more than a big head with a couple tiny appendages!

This little invertebrate ranges in size from a poppy seed to a small meatball! Different kinds of ostracods are found throughout the world from shallow water, in the middle of the ocean (pelagic) and down to the ocean floor (benthic). Some ostracods also live in freshwater lake systems.

One of the ostracod’s cool adaptations is the ability to bioluminesce. Tammy Frank told you about how different fish use bioluminescence to attract prey or hide in the light (See Deep-Sea Fish blog.) Laura Timm shared how vampire squid uses a bioluminescent light show to startle predators (See Vampire Squid blog).

The ostracod, like the vampire squid releases a bioluminescent cloud to startle predators. Scientists were able to catch this on video, which you can see by clicking here. You can see Cardinalfish grabbing an ostracod and then quickly spitting it out because of the ostracod’s bioluminescent alarm. This tiny creature creates a spectacular amount of light.

It is mind boggling how many extraordinary animals thrive in the ocean. Thank you so much for letting us share them with you.

Back to sorting, identifying and counting with the Science Team.

Dr. Heather Judkins, Team Cephalopod and Deep-sea Explorer

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