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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Purple slime

A quick walk at Salmon Creek Beach on 14 June 2015 yielded some interesting sightings.

There were quite a few (perhaps 25?) Blue Buoy Barnacles (Dosima fascicularis).  Many individuals were attached to By-the-wind Sailors (Velella velella), but some had their own floats, as above.

There was a lot of foam, and many bubbles, and you know I can't resist photographing colorful bubbles.  

I couldn't choose a favorite bubble picture, so I've included a few (below).  Which one do you like?  (Some of these bubbles were attached to Velella, which created a vivid blue backdrop.)

One of the most interesting things we saw wasn't easily photographed.  Here's a picture:

I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm guessing you can tell that it looks gelatinous, and purple!

There were probably millions of doliolids washing up on the beach tonight.  Doliolids are planktonic animals related to salps and pyrosomes.  We first noticed doliolids in the surf zone about ten days ago.  This is the first time we've observed large numbers stranding on Salmon Creek Beach.  Although we didn't identify them for sure, it's likely to be Dolioletta gegenbauri.  You can see a nice picture of an individual doliolid at the JelliesZone web site.  (They also include a description of doliolids.)

Unfortunately, the doliolids didn't retain their shape when washed up on the sand, so they just looked like patches of purple slime.  If I get a better picture in the days ahead, I'll post one.  Meanwhile, if you're walking local beaches and see something similar to the picture above, perhaps you'll recognize it as an interesting pelagic animal!
P.S.  Eric also noticed an unusual, strong sulfur smell while walking the beach perhaps emitted by phytoplankton?


Hollis said...

You gotta love the colorful self-portraits in the bubbles!

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Hollis!

Yeah, sometimes I see those reflections of myself, and sometimes I don't, as I'm focused on getting the bubbles in focus. I didn't have much time last night, so I just took a few quick photos and figured it was fine if I was in them. It's a much more interesting self-portrait than just sitting somewhere looking directly into the camera!

:) Jackie