Today we have an image posted in 2010, the first of the ‘Just Because’ images back when I suspected that it might become an ongoing thing (present count is 50 such posts.) However, it’s even older than that, coming from my saltwater aquarium in Florida back in 2004. My memories of exploring, collecting, and observing in Florida are very distinct, more distinct and certainly fonder than my memories of the first job when moving back into North Carolina afterward, so it’s hard to believe that they’re in that order, and that this was nineteen years ago. The calendar of memory is a funny thing.
What we see here are ‘scuds,’ or to be more precise, amphipods, though the term is broad and encompasses thousands of species – I can’t get any closer than that. Call them water lice if you like, though they’re harmless and non-parasitic, generally either scavengers or trash-eaters. I collected them with the seaweed, rocks, and shells that populated the aquarium, serving as food for the other species therein, but here they’re gathering on and about a snail shell small enough to float with a little air bubble trapped within – it probably measured less than 10mm wide. I have distinct memories of lifting clumps of seaweed, or really any interesting find, from the water while snorkeling and suddenly having a mass of these crawling across my hands, as the emergence into air caused them to bail free from the surfaces they’d been clinging to and try to regain the water – creepy-feeling, yet harmless. But seeing them using the shell in this manner when it floated close to the aquarium glass begged the macro shot, producing a unique perspective – I was lucky that the walls of the snail shell were so thin that light passed easily, since getting the strobe aimed into the opening otherwise would have been far more challenging.