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What kinds of animal remains contribute to the sediment of deep continental slope waters off southeastern Florida?

What types of invertebrates can be identified from the remains contributing to the sediment in continental slope waters?  An ANAMAR biologist set out to learn just what groups of invertebrates could be identified from sediment collected in the deep waters off Port Everglades Harbor, Florida.  The sample was collected using a custom-made bucket sampler that was towed a short distance across the sediment surface in 664 feet of water off Port Everglades Harbor (Fort Lauderdale), Florida. 

About 2 gallons of the sediment was sieved through a 2-mm screen.  An additional 15 ounces of the sediment was wet-sieved with a 0.8-mm fine-mesh screen to uncover the remains of smaller invertebrates.  The sample matrix was mostly greenish-gray silty fine sand, most of which was washed away during the sieving process.  The remaining shells and other hard objects were left to dry over a few week’s time.  The remains were then identified and photographed. 

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So what was found?

The sample contained:

  • Foraminiferidas (commonly called foraminifera or forams)
  • Mollusks
    • Bivalves
    • Sea butterflies of the order Thecosomata (previously of Pteropoda)
    • Other gastropods
  • Crustacean (crab and shrimp) remains
  • Echinoid (sea urchin) spines and tests

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Are any of these remains fossilized? 

All of the shells and other remains appeared to be of Holocene age (modern).  Thus, none of the remains represent fossils.  Based on the age of the animal remains, it appears that the sediment surface is mostly recently deposited material.  However, the silt component of the sediment sample may have been older than the shell component of the sample.

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