There was a sea spider that was so slow

Even the snail was yelling hey, let's go!

The sea spider doesn't worry

It's never in a hurry

There are some secrets that spider must know.


The sea spiders one heart is so weak

It's so quiet it doesn't make a squeak

It's guts move it's blood

I think it lives in mud

Please don't call this special animal a freak

White and orange sea spider on a rock
Amy Osborne's favorite sea spider: Colossendeis megalonyx

It's poetry Friday! (Well, by the time you get this it might be poetry Saturday) Today's poem is a limerick. A limerick is a poem in which the last word of the 1st, 2nd, and 5th lines rhyme and the last word of the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme. A limerick is usually funny or doesn't make sense. Give it a try and post your limerick in the comments section below.

"Aaron, is this what you would call a cauliflower?" I asked. I gazed through the microscope wondering if I was seeing an egg, a cauliflower egg, or an exploded egg. I was so excited to be helping Graham and Aaron look at trays of eggs and larvae of nudibranchs I wanted to make sure I was identifying each one correctly. As time passed I was getting quicker at identifying and didn't have to ask for help quite so much.

Early stage of nudibranch development
Early stage of nudibranch development.At this point the there are too many cells to count! Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Aaron Toh

In my last journal I talked about gathering specimens from the sea floor and bringing them back to the lab. The animals the sea spider team are studying are benthic which means they live on or near the bottom of the ocean. To learn more about the aquarium at the Crary Lab, current home to the sea spiders, nudibranchs, and eggs we've collected, check out this video!

Once they are in the lab the nudibranch and sea spider eggs are gathered and separated into trays with wells. The trays are divided up and put into incubators. Each incubator is like a giant refrigerator and each incubator is a different temperature. (It can be very challenging and completely mess up the experiment if one of the incubators breaks down!) I think these incubators are pretty cool because you can open a side door and see what's in there without opening the incubator door. If my refrigerator at home had that I probably wouldn't wind up with stinky leftovers that I forgot about and left in the back of the fridge! By keeping the eggs and larvae at different temperatures, the team can study how increasing ocean temperatures affect how these animals grow and develop.

Spiraled egg mass
This white spiraled egg mass is from the nudibranch *Tritonia challengeriana*

A scientist looks in what looks like the side of a refrigerator. This is an incubator.
Aaron Toh looks into the side of the incubator. Being able to look at items from the side without opening the incubator allows scientists to identify exactly what they need so once they open the incubator door they can quickly get what they need and close the door. Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica

My favorite part is when the trays of eggs are observed under a microscope! Under the microscope, the scientists are looking to see if the eggs and larvae have changed into a new stage or if the larvae have molted. They have to look at a lot of eggs and larvae and know the stages of development really well. I was really excited when they included me in looking through the microscope too!!! When I get to stare through the microscope I am amazed at the shapes and tiny movements of these creatures! If I were a great artist I would draw them all. Instead I depend on pictures we can take with a camera attached to the microscope.

A scientist looks through a microscope at plastic trays with wells that hold eggs
Graham Lobert looks through a microscope at eggs and larvae held in the wells of plastic trays. Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Here is a picture that was taken with the video microscope. This is one of my favorite stages of a sea spider developing. Can you find the little eyes?

Stage of sea spider development
The Instar 1 stage is part of a sea spider's development. Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Aaron Toh

When studying these eggs and larvae it's really important to keep them cold between the microscope and the incubator where they are kept. I always see Graham and Aaron dashing up and back down the ramp in the long hallway with a cooler filled with trays of eggs and larvae. I told them one day I'll make a time lapse video of all of their dashing around in and out of incubators with coolers and trays.

A tray with 12 wells on ice. The dots inside the wells are nudibranch eggs.
This tray has nudibranch eggs/larvae in each well. The microscope being used does not have a cold stage so the water is being kept cold by putting it on ice.

A scientist places trays of nudibranch and sea spider eggs and larvae into a cooler.
Aaron Toh places the trays of nudibranch and sea spider eggs and larvae into a cooler for transport. This keeps the temperature as constant as possible.

The team also created a thermal block. The thermal block has both cold water and heated water flowing into it to create a water temperature gradient. A gradient means that the temperature of the water slowly changes from one end of the block to the other. Eggs are in wells inside the thermal block. So far, the team has been studying Tritoniella belli eggs inside the thermal block by looking at them and writing down changes they see. It takes a lot of observing through a microscope to do this research! Sometimes after looking for so long, my eyes feel funny and I have to look out the window. I don't stare through a microscope nearly as long as everyone else does so I can't imagine how their eyes must feel. I think they must use a lot of eye drops!

Scientist looking at a thermal block which is a rectangualar prism with a blackinsulate hose, with cold water, coming in one side and a hose with hot water coming in the other side.
Graham Lobert checks on the animals in the thermal block. The black tube going in is a hose with cold water (-1.8°C) that is insulated to keep it cold. There is also hot water coming in from the other side of the block. Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica

A scientist looks at eggs that are developing in the thermal block.
Dr. Amy Moran prepares eggs and larvae from the thermal block to look at under the microscope. To, ideally, maintain the temperature of the water in the block, the microscope has a temperature controlled cold stage. When viewing them under the microscope the eggs are placed in an insulated dish (note the insulated black ring around the dish on the stage of this microscope). Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Mid-veliger stage of nudibranch development.
Mid-veliger stage of nudibranch development. Can you spot the butterfly like shape with cilia. Crary Lab, McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Photo by Aaron Toh

Here's what I get to look at when I'm not staring through the microscope. Both views are pretty awesome!

View of sea ice, mountains, and orange dive huts.
A view out the window of the Crary Lab. You can see the sea ice, mountains on the continent, and orange dive huts on the ice. McMurdo Station, Antarctica

The research team is also looking at how these creatures use energy as they grow. Stay tuned for more about what the science team is doing and life in Antarctica! Tomorrow...a snowmobile adventure through time!


A big shout out to The Logan School in Denver, Colorado who I skyped with early this morning and to the NatureBridge educators who I talked to yesterday afternoon! It was great to see all of your smiling faces and thanks for all of the questions. Stay curious, my friends.

Want to talk to me live at McMurdo field station in Antarctica? Want to meet some of the animals that live in the aquarium here in Antarctica? Want to hear more about the research we are doing, see it in action, and ask questions?


This will be a 45 minute to 1 hour live presentation and conversation. All are welcome to join! It will be geared towards K-12 classrooms so be sure to tell your teacher friends, or if you are a teacher please join in!!!

When: November 22, 2019 8:30 AM AKST (9:30 AM PST, 10:30 AM MST, 11:30 AM CST, 12:30 PM EST)

How: You need to register for the event by clicking HERE. You'll need to select November 22 Amy Osborne under Event Choice.

I hope you can join me!!

Also, don't forget to answer the trivia questions from yesterdays post. You can end up with a postcard from Antarctica!

McMurdo Station, Antarctica
Weather Summary
Wind Speed
4 knots
Wind Chill


Addie, Evie & Rowan

This is a limerick from the point of view of a bunny that is living through the California wild fires, it is sort of sad.

Look at the wildfire
Watch it climb higher
As it destroys the hillside
I watch from inside
Yes I watch it from my briar.
Now I watch my briar
Being consumed by the fire
Our little bunny home is gone
And it is now just turning dawn
I’m afraid our situation is dire.

Amy Osborne

Hi Addie, Evie, and Rowan,

That is a sad limerick and probably so true for the bunnies living through fires. Have you seen any bunnies in Spain? Thanks so much for writing this!

Take care,

Addie, Evie & Rowan

Hi Amy,

We've seen a lot of different animals in Spain but no bunnies :(

- Addie, Evie & Rowan

stephen kielar

The Pinniped went for a Paddle
I saw a penguin run with a Saddle
They both disappeared
Then reemerged with a beard
I shall not Tattle

Amy Osborne

Ha ha! That is a funny limerick! I can visualize it all in my head. It reminds me of something that would be in a Lewis Carroll poem.


Timothy Dwyer

Great explanation of the aquarium! Thanks for putting that video together. And that fish is not camera shy at all!