by | Aug 17, 2016 | 0 comments

Biodiversity Treasure Hunt on Martha’s Vineyard

What better place to study ocean life than an island? That’s why the Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) crew packed up our buckets and headed to the quaint fishing village of Menemsha, Martha’s Vineyard, at the end of July to host the first annual Bioblitz on Menemsha Beach.

OGL’s Bioblitz, our biodiversity scavenger hunt, was a splashing success, with many locals, beachgoers, and Northeastern alumni making hands-on discoveries on the waterfront.

Bioblitzers identify and admire their catch on Menemsha Beach, Martha’s Vineyard. Photo credit: OGL

In addition to the usual crabs, periwinkles, and barnacles, local sea captains Gordon Thompson and Chip Vanderhoop landed several important fish species, including black sea bass, summer flounder, scup, and even a shark! Unlike Steven Spielberg’s infamous Jaws, our little smooth dogfish friend was only as long as your arm and weighed less than your neighbor’s cat. He also had flat, blunt teeth ideal for crushing crabs and other crustaceans, instead of the stereotypical sharp “shark” teeth. But we were not disappointed and managed to take a tiny fin clip for DNA extraction before releasing the shark back into the great blue.

OGL chose Martha’s Vineyard because it is a hotspot for citizen science given its maritime heritage, active fishing community, and recreational ties to the sea. Moreover, Martha’s Vineyard is a scientifically important destination near a geographic boundary that may see shifts in climate in the coming years. By watching over the Vineyard’s beaches from year to year, our citizen scientists will help to notice changes and protect marine life.

The OGL biorepository works with researchers, educators, and citizen scientists around the globe to preserve valuable DNA samples and inspire the next generation of ocean stewards. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider making a gift.

Would you like to join our next Bioblitz? Sign up for the upcoming Nahant Coastal Bioblitz here!


The Wacky Underwater World 

What animal lives more than 250 years but never eats a thing? If you guessed the deep-sea tubeworm Escarpia laminata, you would be correct—and also probably a deep-sea biologist!   Escarpia laminata lives near deep-sea cold seeps, places where methane...

OGL publishes a new paper—about itself!

Have you ever wondered what goes on at the Ocean Genome Legacy Center? If so, you are not alone.   We frequently receive questions such as: Who can use OGL’s collections? What is in them? Where do the samples come from? How do I contact and work with OGL? To answer...

Nightmare fuel from the sea

It is Halloween again, and time for us to dress up and terrify our neighbors! Let’s look at the winners of this year’s spookiest creatures of the deep blue sea! Second place—Chondrocladia verticillata What if SpongeBob developed a taste for fresh meat? The answer is...

Meet OGL’s new faces—and their new projects!

This month, OGL is welcoming a new postdoctoral fellow and two new co-op students! Did you know that some bacteria stab their competitors with poison darts? In her PhD research at UNC Chapel Hill, Dr. Lauren Speare showed how glowing symbionts use this strategy to...

New Tools for Teachers

Science teachers are awesome! Middle and high school teachers are on the front lines of science education, teaching a generation that not only can save our planet, but must. To do our small part to help these heroes, Ocean Genome Legacy and the Outreach Program at...