Category: Other

    Red Tides Off Vancouver Island

    Red Tides

    A couple of days ago (June 2018) I was startled by the bright red colour of the seawater at Mill Bay BC. These blooms of dinoflagelates (a type of plankton) are population explosions that occur in spring and summer. Some dinoflagellates become so numerous that the water becomes a rusty-red. There is a red oil drop containing pigment in each organism that reflects to make the red colour. The small red spots in the organism, when added to a population bloom countless numbers of similar organisms give seawater the characteristic colour that makes up a red tide.

    A dinoflagellate is a single celled organism and most species live free in sea water. Most have two whip-like flagella – one to drive the organism forward and the other to make it rotate. This allows the organism to adjust its orientation and vertical position to make the best use of light for photosynthesis.

    Protoperidium sp.

    This organism feeds on bacteria, diatoms and other dinoflagellates. When organism is caught it exudes some of its cytoplasm to engulf the prey. They prey is then digested externally before being retracted back into the body.

    I took these images through my microscope with a digital camera. This dinoflagellate is a Protoperidinium sp. Dinoflagellates cannot produce their own food but are predators who catch and eat other small organisms. They in turn are prey for copepods and bottom dwelling suspension feeders such as hydroids.

    In Saanich Inlet a localized bloom became very evident when persistent wind appeared to concentrate water on the lee shore. The water looked very rusty red but at times the sun made it almost glow bright red.

    These blooms (Harmful Algal Blooms) can become dangerous because the physiology of other organisms can be affected. The organisms produce a potent neurotoxins as part of their metabolism. Filter feeder organisms (such as clams, mussels, oysters) can concentrate these toxins. If humans eat these organisms they can become very ill, or even die from paralytic shellfish poisoning.

    Beach goers can be affected even if they do not eat affected organisms. There have been cases where blowing wind picked up dried organisms with the toxins and persons who breathed them in or ingested them were affected with inflamed eyes and asthmatic-like symptoms.

    Categories: Other, Posts

    Amateur Microscope Users Network on Vancouver Island

    Building a Network of Amateur Micr-Naturalists

    Linking up other like-minded amateur users of microscopes is a major goal of this website. Scattered the length of Vancouver Island are amateur microscopists working alone on their hobby. Imagine an informal network linking us all up together – and even hosting periodic coffee meet ups where we can all get to know each other. Maybe some day we will host a technical meeting – with speakers – its possible!

    What Is a Micro-Naturalist?

    A micronaturalist is simply a naturalist who is interested in using a microscope to access the small world that forms the basis of all life. “Take a field trip without leaving the room with a microscope” is our tagline.

    The idea is to learn from each other, trade information, and even build friendships that generate projects. We could, as a group, create useful tools for others based on the knowledge we are accumulating. I’d like to think that we are going to inspire others to join us in this activity.

    Meet Up with Us

    If you are interested in linking up with us – please send a message to microscope (at) expressing an interest. We are a friendly, respectful, supportive and positive group who would like to include anyone interested in microscopy.

    Categories: Other, People