My guest today is Cricket Raspet (@chilipossum on Instagram). Cricket is a Curatorial Assistant at the California Academy of Sciences, specializing in marine mammals. She’s a passionate community scientist, a raptor bander with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and a rescue and animal care volunteer at the Marine Mammal Center.
An interest (obsession?) with the colorful sea slugs of the pacific coast led her from the tidepools to the strange community of creatures that make floating docks their home. With a handful of like-minded explorers, she founded the Dockfoulers Union to educate people about this unique ecosystem and document its inhabitants through photography and iNaturalist observations.
To explain, dockfouling is a captivating hobby where one observes the amazing diversity of life that forms in ecosystems around floating docks. Think of it like tidepooling, but with some distinct advantages that we discuss today. Unique and colorful creatures can be readily seen, and these areas are ripe for personal and scientific discovery. Simply put, dockfouling can be both a crash course and a masters course in marine ecology.
One of the hardest parts of preparing for this episode was deciding which of Cricket’s photos to include! There are more below, so please scroll down.
In this episode we discuss what dockfouling is, and the related concept of biofouling. In fact, biofouling has a significant impact on the shipping industry, and as a result, much of the research on the topic is driven by industry’s desire to prevent or remove these organisms.
We discuss some of Cricket’s amazing finds in these floating dock biomes, the emergence of a dock fouling community, and how you too can easily observe some of these magnificent creatures next time you are near a floating dock. It turns out it is pretty easy to get started – no equipment necessary! But if you want to start taking photos, Cricket offers some suggestions as well.
Cricket also provides a number of great resources to learn more, including books, videos, and iNaturalist projects.
And if you are ready to get out today, it turns out it’s “Doctober” – a special month-long BioBlitz intending to document these communities on iNaturalist.
Did you have a question that I didn’t ask? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll try to get an answer! I’ll add these Q&As to my monthly newsletter, so if you aren’t already subscribed, go here. I promise, no spam. I share the latest news from the world of Nature’s Archive, as well as pointers to new naturalist finds that have crossed my radar, like podcasts, books, websites, and more.
While you are welcome to listen to my show using the above link, you can help me grow my reach by listening through one of the podcast services (Apple, Google, Stitcher, etc) linked on the right. And while you’re there, will you please consider subscribing?
Links To Topics Discussed
Books, Gear, and Resources
Dock Fouling in California – iNaturalist project
Dock Fouling in Washington State – iNaturalist project
Doctober – Dockfauling bioblitz for October 2021
Nature Lookings – website with resources on Dock Fouling and Doctober
Olympus TG-6 Waterproof Camera– recommended for underwater and terrestrial macro, with built-in focus stacking, recommended by Cricket.
Tutorial to use the TG-6 for Tidepool Photography
Panasonic Lumix TS6 – the older point-and-shoot that Cricket uses for underwater photography
Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific, by Eugene Kozloff – illustrated marine biology book that will help with your identification and understanding
People and Organizations Discussed
Damon Tighe – presentations on YouTube at Lake Merritt
Dockfoulers Union (instagram)
Luan Roberts (instagram)
Note: links to books are affiliate links
Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed
Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed
Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/