Who knew – barnacles are very, very cool!

Today was the day of great anticipation.  Excitement filled the room.  Not really – AV didn’t sleep very well and promptly fell asleep into the invertebrates textbook he was reading.  JV and BR worked out math without disturbing the boy wonder.  Anyway.  Around 10:00 we bounded to the car and headed to the Citadel.

I have odd memories of the Citadel.  I was at the College of Charleston when Save the Males bumper stickers were the rage as a female, who sued to be admitted, enter the Citadel and promptly found it too difficult and quit.  I remember going over with a friend who had a thing for watching guys parade around in uniforms. Found it not amusing watching guys try not to shiver or faint as they stood in review.  I’m just too much not a conformist.  Ahh the memories.

Anywhooo.

The Citadel campus

The kids quick stepped all the way to the teacher’s office in Duckett Hall.  That wind coming off the river was fierce.

Dr Zardus was waiting for our guys and put them at rest quickly.  He is a biologist who is focused on invertebrates and is fascinated with barnacles.

He allowed the boys to gape at his extensive collection of great creatures.  He has a preserved giant isopod!  GIANT!  AV was impressed.  He also showed us a crab that lives in chambers formed by a type of coral.  The female doesn’t leave as she is too large when full grown, but the smaller male can come and go.  He had two types of goose barnacles in alcohol and an exoskeleton of a spiny lobster.  He has a massive (larger than a football) claw of a lobster.  All this was just sitting around his office!  And wait!  There was so much more. What a great collection.

We also went to his labs and saw how he grew food for his barnacles that he is studying. (None there now thanks to the cold weather.)

We spent a great deal of time in his large working lab. He had tons of different types of barnacles. He specializes with ones which grow on sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and manatees.  We found out that barnacles come in very different sizes.  Some live only on sea turtle’s tongues!  Not all barnacles have a shell under them; some have a membrane. Some have four parts to their shell; most six; and others eight.

Some trap whale skin in hollow grooves, and as the barnacle grows it pushes down and forces the skin to grow upward in the tubes. This helps the barnacle hold on.  A few barnacles have “teeth” that push down into the soft skin of sea turtles to help them grip.  There is even one that the scientists believe moves around on the backs of turtles.

“The best science talk ever!”  “I like him.” “I want to speak with him again!”   (Note the good grammar – yes!)

Do you think the bleary minds of the boys enjoyed the time with Dr. Zardus?

Oh and how.

As soon as they saw a family friend later, they all talked about the things they learned from him. It began to pique her interest in science.

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2 Comments

Filed under Biology, Going outs (Field Trips), Science

2 responses to “Who knew – barnacles are very, very cool!

  1. lapazfarm

    Wow! That sounds fabulous!!! I have always loved going into biology professor’s offices and seeing all their cool collections. Geology professors, too. They’ve usually got neat fossils and crystals and stuff. But biology professors are the best.

  2. What an amazing opportunity! I bet the professor really enjoyed the boys’ enthusiasm. And, yes…barnacles are cool!

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