by Douglas McCulloch | Dartmouth Week
As Sofia Demelo took her hand out of a fishtank at the Lloyd Center, she pulled out what soon became her new friend – a young crab.
She soon learned that it’s called a spider crab, and are usually quite hard to see underwater because they cover themselves in seaweed to hide from view. It was one of several critters kids and families were introduced to as part of the Center’s Animal Encounters program on September 23.
The event was intended to introduce guests to the unique biodiversity of the Lloyd Center property and the wider community, Outreach Educator Erika Fernandes explained as Koko, the Center’s eastern screech owl, sat perched on her hand – another animal that attendees got an up close look at. Guests also took part in capturing and tagging Monarch butterflies, checked out Norbert, the Center’s box turtle, and examined aquatic creatures caught with nets along the Center’s estuary. “We run this event in addition to the biodiversity day run by our researchers,” Fernandes said.
Headed by the Center’s Research Director, Mark Mello, biodiversity day celebrates the process of the Center’s biodiversity initiative. It began ten years ago, with the goal of studying and identifying creatures that call the Lloyd Center home.
To date, Mello and his team have identified more than 2,000 individual species of animals, including moths, birds, mammals, marine invertebrates, and fish, and there’s still many more unidentified.
“We just keep adding on to the information we have here,” Mello explained. “Since we’re here at the mouth of the watershed, we like to talk about what we have here.”