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Monday, June 1, 2015

Three species on one!

Eric spotted this decorator crab (Pugettia producta) with three species of barnacles attached to it.

Can you find three different species of barnacles?

Here's one:

The red-and-white striped barnacles are Megabalanus californicus.

The next picture includes a view of a second species:

I think the all-white barnacles nestled among the others are Balanus crenatus.

The third species of barnacle has long, flexible "necks."  It was attached to several places on or near the crab's legs:

The stalked barnacle is a Gooseneck Barnacle (Pollicipes polymerus).

Three species of barnacle on one crab!  We've seen Balanus crenatus on crabs before, but I can't recall finding Pollicipes or Megabalanus on a crab in the intertidal zone on Bodega Head.

It's been an amazing year for Pollicipes settlement remember that they have a swimming stage that eventually returns to the shore and metamorphoses into a juvenile barnacle.  Pollicipes seems to be everywhere and in great abundance.  It's probably a good year to find them in unusual places.  

Megabalanus is a southern species, so it is rare in general on Bodega Head.  Perhaps the warm water of the past year allowed it to do better than usual.

Doing a quick count off the top of my head, there are ~9-10 species of barnacles that live on the rocks or other hard substrates in the intertidal zone on Bodega Head...and ~4-5 species of pelagic barnacles that may wash ashore on local beaches.  So that's a total of at least 13-15 species of barnacles that can be found in the Bodega Bay area.  These pictures show 3 species at one time.  In the past I've photographed 4 species at one time.  I think it would be possible to capture 5 species of barnacles in one picture, but it would mean keeping your eyes open for just the right circumstance!


John W. Wall said...

I recently saw Megabelanus that appeared to still be alive despite being attached to a fragment of crab carapace (not a kelp crab, though) at low tide at Drake's Beach. How do you ID all the critters you find? Last week I found a fairly large nudibranch (aeolid) that isn't in my 'branch book, and I couldn't find it with some cursory image-googling either. Just wondering how you track down species that don't exactly have field guides devoted to them.

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, John! Thanks for the info about the Megabalanus sighting.

Identifying critters depends a bit on the type of animal. For marine invertebrates in this region, two of the best general books include The Light & Smith Manual (edited by Jim Carlton 2007) -- which is very technical -- and Intertidal Invertebrates of California (Morris, Abbott, and Haderlie 1980). The latter is out-of-print, but available used and in libraries. For nudibranchs, I'd recommend Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs (Behrens and Hermosillo 2005). Online, The Sea Slug Forum is an excellent resource.

I'd be happy to take a look at your mystery nudibranch if you want to send it my way.

John W. Wall said...

Thanks! I just picked up a used Intertidal Invertebrates of California on Amazon. I have the nudibranch book, but my critter wasn't in it. I'll check the online forum.