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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Archibald!

Archibald Menzies was one of the first naturalists to explore the California coast.  He was born in Scotland on March 15, 1754.  One of the most famous voyages he participated in was aboard the HMS Discovery with Captain George Vancouver.  They sailed around the world from 1791–1795 and spent months exploring the West Coast, including a probable visit to Bodega Head in October 1793.

Menzies was a prolific collector.  Because of his many valuable contributions (especially botanical), quite a few species were named after him.  Local examples include Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Baby Blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii), Small-flowered Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), Menzies' Wallflower (Erysimum menziesii), and Feather Boa Kelp (Egregia menziesii).

Here are a few photos of Feather Boa Kelp.  The first is from Big Sur, all of the others are from Bodega Head.

 Elliptical pneumatocysts (gas-filled floats). 

  A juvenile, displaying an obvious young holdfast with simple (a single layer), brightly colored, unbranched haptera (root-like projections).

Seaweed Limpet (Lottia insessa) — a specialist limpet that is only found living on Feather Boa Kelp.  Note that the limpet has grazed the upper surface of the rachis (main stem), creating a smooth, pale scar.