Mysid Collecting

The MBA building is home to a large number of live animals which all require different and complicated things to survive. The biologists working with the live animals have been working to find the best ways to ensure that their specimens active and happy, not only for the creatures sake, but also to help improve the quality of the results their experiments yield. Cuttlefish are kept in the saltwater tanks, and the babies they breed require live prey to feed on. Mysida are an order of crustaceans, unique in their use of a kangaroo-like pouch to keep their live young in. Filter feeders, they prey on small planktonic species and pieces of organic debris, which they drag into their mouth using the front legs, and because of this are often a good sign of nutrient rich water, feeding heartily during algal blooms. In appearance, they are small shrimps, red or transparent in colour, and live around in world in both freshwater and saltwater.

This bag is utterly teeming with tiny Mysida.

Their size, abundance and high nutritional value makes them the perfect food for baby cuttlefish, and we were sent out to a nearby estuary to catch some. At low tide, the tiny Mysids are so common that you can barely wave your net through the water without catching some, and sweeping through a cloud will quickly gather up hundreds of tiny, wriggling bodies. Setting out with bags of fresh water, we quickly swept up as many as we could, conscious that spending to long or overfilling the bags would mean the Mysids would run out of oxygen and soon asphyxiate. Luckily it was a good day for gathering them, and after only 20 minutes we had enough to feed the new-born cephalopods. Although we sprung several leaks on the climb back up to the bank, perseverance meant we lost very little of our precious cargo. Triumphant, we rushed back to the MBA building, wanting to get the new feedstock in a tank as soon as possible.

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