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Monday, December 9, 2013

A first for California

If you've been following this blog, you may recall the spectacular hydroid called Candelabrum fritchmanii that I reported last March.

To our knowledge, Candelabrum fritchmanii has only been seen twice in California — once in 1950 at Pigeon Point (in San Mateo County) and then on 17 March 2013 when we found it at Salmon Creek Beach.  [The link to the original post is here if you haven't read it yet.  I also described the fascinating feeding behavior of Candelabrum here.]

The 1950 specimen wasn't reproductive.  The 2013 specimen was, but it never produced any larvae.

We've been very interested in learning more about Candelabrum, so this winter we were determined to search for more specimens.  Yesterday, on 8 December 2013, Eric discovered two more colonies in Bull Kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) holdfasts!

And they were releasing larvae!  As far as we know, these are the very first Candelabrum fritchmanii larvae ever recorded in California.  These images were taken under a microscope.  The larva (called an actinula) was ~1 mm long.

Note the two types of tentacles.  Both types have capitate, or rounded tips.  The primary tentacles are very long and are found throughout the body, while the secondary tentacles are much shorter and are clustered at one end of the body (they just look like little bumps).

Some of the larvae were just beginning to emerge from the capsules where they developed.  You could see a few of the tentacles extending outward, while the rest of the larva was still inside.

We're very excited to have found Candelabrum again and to have a chance to study this little-known species.

P.S.  Some of you know that I often hear songs at somewhat random moments.  When I saw these larvae emerging from their capsules, I heard Diana Ross singing, "I'm Coming Out."  Some of the lyrics are a perfect match:

The time has come for me
to break out of the shell
I have to shout
that I'm coming out

I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I'm coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

I've got to show the world
All that I want to be
And all my abilities
There's so much more to me


Claudia said...

So very exciting! What a beast!

Anonymous said...

WOW. Beautiful babies indeed. so exciting!!! -AH

Leth Benz said...