The morning of April 19, 2010, was a rainy one, but that didn’t stop the Embryology class at OIMB from heading out to the mudflats of the Coos Bay estuary during the low tide. Our mission: to find several kinds of worms by digging in the muddy sand. To enhance our studies of spiralian development, we wanted to find nemertean worms (Micrura and Cerebratulus) as well as the tube-dwelling polychaete Owenia, which has a unique larva called the mitraria. We also were keeping a look out for a tube-dwelling worm from another phylum, the phoronid Phoronopsis harmeri.
The going was slow as we slogged through the muck and picked through the mud, but after a couple hours of searching and digging, we had found at least a few specimens of every one of our target species. These we took back to the lab at OIMB, placed in flowing seawater tables, and studied over the next few weeks.