Thursday, October 9, 2014

Platynereis abnormis of Saipan

Platynereis abnormis is a nereid polychaete worm.  A congener, P. dumerlii is one of the most studied worms of all.  Ernest Just spent evenings studying them under the lights on the dock at, I think, Woods Hole, and wrote about them.    The following paper by Just is noteworthy:

E E Just. Breeding Habits of the Heteronereis Form of Platynereis megalops at Woods Hole, Mass. Biological Bulletin 27, 201 - 212 (1914). 
This publication is available online.  However, even though Just has been dead for many years, JSTOR places this information over one of his papers on line, probably in violation of the law:

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You see, the publication I have in mind was published in Biological Bulletin, all volumes of which are available free online.   This angers me, because I have wasted time because of the disingenuous actions of JSTOR, leaving aside the issue of the current unavailability of the author---presumably along with the lawyers who drew up the copyright policies of Biological Bulletin at the time.

On Saipan, these worms are super abundant in the evenings, yet they---like several other small emergent zooplankton---are almost completely unknown.  SCUBA divers report that, when night diving, swarms of these small worms are a nuisance, swarming around dive  lights (? and getting into regulators).  The swarms are of the Heteronereis (reproductive) stage.  What appears odd to me, they swarm almost every night; yet a great deal of interest has been shown in worms of this genus that spawn on a lunar cycle.  Or then again, maybe they do swarm on nights when they do not spawn.  Hardly ever did we see a night when this worm was not to be found, attracted to our flash lights.

For now, I will post this photograph taken when John Furey and I went collecting for plankton for his marine aquarium on Saipan.   (The transparent, larger organism is an eel larva.   The Heteronereids are less than a centimeter long. 

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