Scum of the Earth
So at the beginning of May I was checking on things out at Duck Creek and stumbled upon something I hadn’t encountered before. Originally, my attention was attracted to the drops of dew clinging to the spider webs on the surface of a mudflat in Unit A. I took out my camera, switched on the macro function and got down on my belly to take a few photos. From this new point of view I began to notice something else that was intriguing…little green orbs or spheres scattered across the top of the ground. You could almost call them clusters of tiny grapes ranging from 0.5-2 mm in diameter.
I started looking around and saw there were quite a few of these small circular structures clinging to the moist soil surface. I guessed they were some sort of algae, but thought it would be fairly easy to identify once I sent my photos around. Later that day I was out at Dark Cypress, and once again my attention was drawn to the mudflats. This time I was intrigued by a small pink mite. This little bug was racing around too fast for me to get an adequate picture, but the camera did capture more small green spheres. With my bare eyes, I could barely make them out; but other than their small stature, they appeared to be similar to what I had seen in Unit A.
I sent them to our ombudsman, Tim Smith, and got a couple suggestions from folks within the central office, but nothing definitive. I also sent a couple inquiries to several university professors. I was told I needed to take a closer look under the microscope to see the filaments of this species for proper identification.
That next week I went back out to Duck Creek in an effort to grab some samples for the lab. The continued heat and evaporation had caused the distribution of mudflats to shift, but after some searching I was able to find the green spheres of algae. However, you couldn’t just roll them off of the mudflat without popping them. They were like balloons shallowly rooted in the soil. I cut a thin slab of mud that had a good patch of orbs on top and brought them back to the lab.
Under the microscope, I couldn’t find the filaments that I was supposed to find to help in my identification. All I