#32: Cricket Raspet on Dockfouling – finding amazing sea creatures the easy way

#32: Cricket Raspet on Dockfouling – Finding Amazing Sea Creatures the Easy Way Nature's Archive


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.

Sabellastarte sp., a type of worm, believe it or not! © Cricket Raspet

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.

You can find Cricket on Instagram at chilipossum, docfoulersunion, glamourslugs. And on iNaturalist as chilipossum, too.


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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

The Light and Smith Manual: Intertidal Invertebrates from Central California to Oregon, by James T. Carlton

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

California Academy of Sciences

Damon Tighe – presentations on YouTube at Lake Merritt

Dockfoulers Union (instagram)

Luan Roberts (instagram)

Note: links to books are affiliate links

More Photos!!

Polyorchis sp., © Cricket Raspet
Brown Cup Coral Paracyathus stearnsii © Cricket Raspet
Opalescent Nudibranch (aka Sea Slug), Hermissenda opalescens © Cricket Raspet

Music Credits

Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed

Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed

Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/

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