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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"Spiky Yoda"

While walking Salmon Creek Beach on two days earlier this month (2 April and 6 April 2016), we looked down to see a few of these distinctive gelatinous bits on the sand:

Although they looked somewhat similar to the nectophore (swimming bell) of a siphonophore that we found last year (see post about Hippopodius on 16 April 2015), they were also quite different in that they had prominent points (especially out to the sides) and abundant little "spines," making them look very spiky.

For scale, here's a photo with Eric's finger.  This nectophore was ~15 mm across.

To fully appreciate the gelatinous spines, here's a view under the microscope:

Meet Vogtia spinosa!  This is the first time we've found this species washed up on the beach.  Usually they live offshore and at depth (often 300-500 meters below the surface).

Unfortunately, I've had trouble finding pictures or diagrams of the entire animal.  I've read that Vogtia is arranged similarly to Hippopodius, so check out the diagram on my previous post to start visualizing what Vogtia might look like.  To clarify, what we found on the beach is a single nectophore when the animal is whole, there might be up to 16 nectophores positioned next to each other along a central stem.   

I can't resist showing one more picture.  Below is the Vogtia nectophore on Eric's thumb.  For some reason, it's shape reminded me of Yoda, so before I identified this siphonophore to species, I casually called it the "Spiky Yoda" nectophore.  What do you think?  Do you see Yoda, too?  ;)


Dan Gurney said...

Yoda I see.

I really enjoy reading your blog—so much to learn. You take notice of things I would surely overlook on a walk on Salmon Creek beach and then make what you observe interesting. Thank you.

Your photographs are great. Even the sand in them in beautiful.

Jackie Sones said...

Thanks, Dan! I totally agree about the sand grains. I've thought about taking pictures of the sand alone, but haven't gotten to that yet. (Some day!)

I'm always glad to bring attention to the "little things." (Watch carefully, you must.) Information about them isn't as easily accessible/available as it for larger animals, so it's fun to increase awareness of all of the animals we pass by as we walk along next to the waves (or as we swim with them or travel among them by boat).

:) Jackie

Claudia said...

Yes, your ability to find "distinctive gelatinous bits" is amazing?

Jackie Sones said...

Claudia! I always think of you now when we find "gelatinous blobs" on the beach. Although sometimes it is just a blob that you can't identify, it's exciting when it turns out to be something from far offshore, or from way down deep, or related to warm water conditions, or...the possibilities are endless! :D