The Little Guys of the Cove

THE LITTLE GUYS OF THE COVE

THE NEWEST EXHIBIT ON DISPLAY IN COTTAGE #46 OFFERS A VISUALLY CAPTIVATING AND EDUCATIONAL LOOK AT THE UNDERWATER PARK’S MICROSCOPIC LIFE FORMS, KNOWN AS PLANKTON.

The word “plankton” derives from a Greek word meaning “wandering”—it’s no surprise, then, that these marine organisms exist in a floating, drifting state at sea. Virtually every animal in the sea passes through this microscopic state, and though they account for some of the smallest living creatures on earth, they’re critically important to the aquatic circle of life here at Crystal Cove and throughout the world’s oceans.

At Crystal Cove, plankton is collected on CCA’s Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise boats, where UC Irvine professor Peter Bryant researches unusual specimens and sends samples to a lab in Washington for DNA fingerprinting. This process can match larval forms with adult species found elsewhere in the ocean, which offers a deeper look at how climate change is affecting the marine life at the Cove.

For curious visitors, the exhibition at Cottage #46 (which opened in late January), will showcase an “under the microscope” look at plankton through stunning photographic works by Peter Bryant. Learn about CCA’s ocean drifters and get interactive demonstrations on Saturdays from UC Irvine interns, who will share live plankton collected from the boats.

“It’s an exploration every time,” says Harry Helling, CCA’s president and CEO, of each new batch of plankton. “It’s a different cast of characters with each visit.”

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