The re-naturalization of the Isar river in Munich (II)
This time we again pass on the microphone to our guest columnist whom we had introduced
already in the last issue:
"Here speaks Max, Max from the Maimilian's Bridge - like all other gossip columnists he has its own portrait on top
of his text colum.
Tardigrade portrait "Max" (genus Echiniscus).
On this ligh microscopic image you will perceive the characteristic body colour, the
body transparency and the eyes of a live tardigrade. Please keep in mind that you wouldn't see anything
of this when looking at an electron microscope image (no eyes visible, no transparency, no real colour).
The Gorbatschow type pigment spot on the forehead does indicate some age and wisdom.
Body width ca. 0.1 mm.
There has been much hustle and bustle about us tardigrades in the past years. Just
have a look around in the web and search for the TARDIS project (Tardigrades in Space):
The smoking-men-scientists did open a rocket window into space and thus exposed a few of us tardigrades
to vacuum and high levels of radiation. In the end they pretended to be astonished that
some of us survived this typically human biological experiment. If you were asking me directly:
they always behave like this, it appears to be their standard attitude towards animals of all kinds.
Just have a look at our strongly restricted world. We are living in a tiny temporary film of
water, most of the time firmly clinging to our host plant. Of course we have some tenacity
and the power to survive incredible challenges. But there is one point in which we feel
slightly envious towards the human beings: We are not able to go back one step in order
to grasp an overview panorama of our world - when you are standing on a bridge like
the smoker-man-cyclist pausing on the bridge and looking down onto the river
as depicted in the photograph below:
"Isar-Feeling" in the very center of the city of Munich. View
from North toward Maximilian's Bridge.
"Isar-Feeling" in the very center of the city of Munich. View from
the Museum's Bridge (near the German Technical Museum) towards the "Thick lady" a bronze statue
alongside a bicyclists' route.On the right-hand side of the image is a big tardigrade moss habitat.
When standing there you might even see both our worlds,
yours and mine, at a single glance. It goes without saying that those dirty smoking-men
need public baths etc. in oder to stay clean whereas we keep ourselves fresh just on the basis of
a tiny portion of dew.
View from the Museum's Bridge towards the Miller Public Bath. Foreground:
Of course there is no doubt who of uns is spoiling the other's habitat:
View from Maximilian's Bridge onto the riverbed: a really silly joke.
Somebody has thrown a bicycle into the river.
Detail: Bicycle in the riverbed.
Of course I do appreciate the newly installed artificial islands.
But I do not want to comment the behaviour of those smoking-men who are using those
little islands as well. Just have a look at the photographs:
Litter deposited by those smoker-men alongside the river on the newly installed
artificial islands. Potatoe chip and barbecue remains.
But personally I am convinced that in the long run there will be
advantages for us tardigrades.Some of those artifical islands appear to bee to small for the
smoking-men. Moreover, as most smoking-men appear to be lazy, they will not carry
their beer boxes onto an island when it appears to be too complicated.
Newly installed small island
within the waters of the Isar river.
After Max has explained almost everything we just would like to
document our search for tardigrades within the river Isar moss, on the basis of a few
(1) Isar tardigrade habitat on a cement construction.
(2) Dry moss cushon, as seen in cross section. You will perceive the individual
moss plants and their zoning: green, brown, earthen. A single moss cushion might easily contain a few
hundred moss plants.
Image width ca. 1.2 cm.
(3) Three moss plants, in the dry state. Lenght of plants: ca. 5 mm.
(4) The same three moss plants after wetting with water, in the micro aquarium.
(5) In this sample we found only a
single tardigrade. We photographed it directly in the micro aquarium, sitting undisturbed on
its moss plant (besides there were many nematodes and amoebae in the sample).
The image quality is somewhat reduced, but when looking quite close you will see
the typical red Echiniscus eye (please take care not to hurt your nose tip!).
Body length ca. 0.2 mm.
© Text, images and video clips by
Martin Mach (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of
the German language monthly magazine
Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.