(almost!) always carnivores and often fill a niche role in their
ecosystems as specialized predators. They start out as plankton
and float through the water column until they find a place that
is either safe or has their food source or sometimes both! In
our tanks here at the MaST Center, we don’t actually put in any
of the nudibranchs you see on display. They have all been
planktonically recruited into our tanks through the water we
bring up in our pump.
What does the Nudibranch Team do?
Over the years MaST Center team members observed various types of nudibranchs throughout the tanks in the aquarium. However, these species were never documented until, then intern, Eugene Disney founded the Nudibranch Team. Later termed the Nudibranch Observation Of Populations Squad, NOOPS is a volunteer program that is responsible for recording data concerning the populations of nudibranchs in our tanks on a daily basis.
Why Research Nudibranchs?
Due to the nature of their environment, it is necessary to gather this data as often as possible as it can change on a daily basis. Collected data is graphed to compare averaged populations and species averages in the aquarium throughout the year. This information is also useful in comparing populations from year to year and understanding the causes for changes in numbers. Our end goal is to continue to collect this data for use in future scientific studies that will include our nudibranchs as a part of the study.
How do you join the NOOPS team?
It’s very simple! Contact us about your interest in joining the NOOPS program. New volunteers are always welcome and all training is provided to new members. Due to a lack of supervision and need for accuracy, team members must be at least 14 years of age. Volunteers under the age of 14 are able to "team-volunteer" with the guidance of a legal guardian. Jump into the incredible world of these sea creatures and joins NOOPS today!
Our data is available free to the public.
Our volunteers have been collecting data on nudibranch populations in our aquarium since 2013. We offer it free to the public, with the understanding that users will give credit to Highline College, the MaST Center, and the NOOPS Team founder, Eugene Disney. Email this DATA ACQUISITION FORM to Rus Higley to request access.