When I'm not traveling around the country on the weekends I'm in the science lab working with cells. The cells I've been working with are called dinoflagellates, which means whirling tails in greek. They are tiny living organisms that live on seaweed. I shake the water off of the seaweed and place it in a tube and place that tube into a centrifuge. A centrifuge is a machine that spins the tubes really fast so that the densest material sinks to the bottom. This machine forces all of the cells to go down to the bottom of the tube. Next, I take that part and place it on a microscope slide. I spend the next hour counting the different types of dinoflagellates. Here are some of the dinoflagellates that I've been studying.
The picture above is Gambierdiscus toxicus. I found a lot of these attached to seaweed. This cell creates a toxin that is very harmful to humans. Humans eat the fish that eat these cells. I can cause extreme pain in humans. This illness that humans can get is called ciguatera and it is very common to get in Australia. I've stayed away from certain types of fish because I don't want to get the effects of ciguatera.
The above picture is a cell named Ostreopsis. It is the most common dinoflagellate in this area. They have really cool armors that protect them. You can see the different plates that make up their outer shell or armor.
This final dinoflagellate is called Pyrocistis lunula. We had to be in complete darkness when observing this cell because we were measuring the light that it gave off. That's right these cells glow! Remember when living things glow its called bioluminescence. Also, Most dinoflagellates can make their own food from sunlight. What is the process called where a living organism can make food from the sunlight? First person/class to get it right will win a prize.