I work on plants and animals that live in the
intertidal, so I like this question. Most of the
organisms that live in the intertidal are more
comfortable in the water than out of it, since
they have evolve from marine ancestors. So at,
many of them feed during high tide when they are
covered by water. I study mussels, which feed
underwater by pumping water through their body.
They strain tiny singled celled plants and
bacteria out of the water for food. There is
actually plenty of food in the water for them, its
just so small you and I cannot see it without a
microscope. We call the tiny animals those that
mussels eat for food plankton, and we call the way
mussels eat filter-feeding .
Another intertidal animal, whelk (a kind of
snail), eats mussels. It drills a tiny hole in the
mussel shell with tiny sharp teeth. After it makes
the hole it can eat the mussels insides by
slurping it up like a straw. There a wide number
of ways that intertidal animals eat, and plenty of
things in the water for food. As for temperature,
the intertidal animals here around UCSB live in
water that ranges from about 50-66 Fahrenheit.
They are very tolerant of a wide range of
temperatures, especially since they can get very
hot and cold at low tide, when they are out of the
water. If the water gets too hot or cold, the
animals and plants in the intertidal can die or
stop growing and breeding. You might notice that
in El Nino years , the large kelp stands
off the coast die off. This is from the very warm
waters that occur during El Nino. I study how
intertidal animals respond to heat. When they get
too hot, some of the important chemicals in their
body start to break down. The animals then start
to make repair chemicals, called heat shock
proteins to fix the damage. This helps them to
withstand hot conditions. We can produce the same
chemicals to repair damage in our own bodies.
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