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Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Scales on the underside of an alligator lizard's tail.  Aren't they beautiful?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Triceratops with sunglasses?

Eric noticed this interesting moth on our screen tonight.  When I looked at it from below, I was somewhat surprised to see the dramatic flare behind the headit reminded me of the dinosaur Triceratops!

Here's another head-on view, this time from farther away:

I'm not sure which species this is yet, but the markings on the wings seem pretty distinctive.  Below is a side view:

The larger bright white marking reminded me of a pair of sunglasses.  :)

Here's one more close-up.  I hope to have time to try to figure out the identification tomorrow.  If you're familiar with this species, let me know!

ADDENDUM (20 June 2018): I did a quick Internet search and I believe this is a Bilobed Looper Moth (Megalographa biloba).  I searched via Google Images with a phrase like, "california moth with white sunglass marking on wing"...and it turned up immediately!  Hard to believe that actually worked!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Under a rock

Recently, Eric turned over a low intertidal cobble and noticed this interesting isopod.  It didn't seem like a familiar species, so we took a closer look.

[Isopods are crustaceans that are somewhat shrimp-like, but they are flattened dorso-ventrally, i.e., from top-to-bottom.  You might be familiar with terrestrial isopods found under woodland logs, also known as "pill bugs" or "roly-polies."]

This isopod had beautiful stripes and subtle speckling along its back:

Also noticeable were the white segments near the outer tips of the antennae:

And here's a close-up of the telson, the last abdominal segment:

When identifying marine isopods, the shape of the telson can be an important character.

For example, review illustrations of different species of local isopods (below).  Look at the shapes of the telsons the tip of the telson is especially useful, e.g., how pointed it is, the angle of the edges to either side of the point, and whether the corners are rounded or squared.  Then compare the telson shapes below to the photo above.  Which species is the best match? 

Isopods of the Bodega Bay region belonging to the Family Idoteidae: (A) Pentidotea wosnesenskii, (B) Pentidotea stenops, (C) Pentidotea resecata, (D) Pentidotea aculeata, (E) Idotea urotoma.  Figure modified from the Light & Smith Manual (2007).

Did you pick Isopod E?  Yes!   We've observed the other four species previously,  but this is the first time we've documented Idotea urotoma on Bodega Head.

P.S.  Nice spotting, Eric!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Little one

A very small Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens) nestled in a mussel shell on 16 June 2018.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Polyps or pancakes?

Which would you prefer for breakfast, polyps or pancakes?  :)

This morning (15 June 2018), Hilton's Aeolid (Phidiana hiltoni) chose polyps of the hydroid, Plumularia.

For a little more information about this nudibranch, see "A new home for Hilton's" on 29 November 2015.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Spiny and groovy

Close-up of a very spiny Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus).  The rounded white spines (or tubercles) are calcareous projections of the sea star's internal skeleton.

Close-up of the madreporite (or sieve plate) of an Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceus).  [I introduced madreporites back in 2013, so if you're interested in reviewing that post, check out "Take five" from 7 May 2013.]

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Catching some Al-air-ia

Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy?  

We noticed a very long Winged Kelp (Alaria marginata) blade on the beach tonight.  Eric pulled it into the air so I could try to document how long it was.  I liked how it rippled and flowed while airborne, and there was nice light along different parts of the blade.

Every time he pulled it into the air, the shape and effect was different:

For the record, this blade was a little over 4.5 meters (15 feet) long.  According to the Marine Algae of California, most Alaria blades are 2.5-4 meters (8-13 feet) long, but they can reach lengths up to 6 meters (19.5 feet)!