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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cast ashore

On 9 March 2014, there was an interesting mix of animals washed up in the wrack line on Salmon Creek Beach.  The waves were about 5-6 feet, so some offshore animals were being pushed up onto the sand.  But next to them, and even more abundant, was a diversity of insects.

It's a little odd to see a pelagic animal like a siphonophore next to a terrestrial treehopper!

Here's a better picture of one of the siphonophore swimming bells.  This was a relatively large bell, ~3-3.5 cm long.

(For more about siphonophores, review a post from last April.)

Many of the treehoppers we observed were still alive.  One hopped onto Eric's sweatshirt:

I don't have much experience identifying treehoppers, but I gave this one a try.  My first guess is a Three-cornered Alfalfa Hopper (Spissistilus festinus).  If you can confirm or correct this identification, please do!

Ladybird beetles and winged ants were also common:

A variety of other insects were represented in lesser numbers.  An example is this click beetle (elaterid) that was crawling actively across the sand:

Last June I wrote about encountering lots of insects in the wrack line on Salmon Creek  Beach.  At that time I wondered if it had to do with warm weather, strong winds, and large waves.  This time there was warm weather (on 8 March) and relatively large waves (on 9 March), but I wouldn't say there were strong winds.  Perhaps the warm weather was enough to cause some of these animals to disperse, but they went a little too far and got caught out at sea and then washed back to shore with the larger waves?

Interestingly, during both events (March 2014 and June 2013) I noted treehoppers and ladybird beetles, but it appears that different species were associated with the two events.  Click here to compare the species from 2 June 2013.

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