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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Noodles!

Stephanie has been finding these washed up on Dillon Beach.  Do you have a guess about what they are?

That's an impressive tangle of "noodles"!

Here's a close-up that might provide some more clues:


If you look closely at the individual strands, you'll see small whitish compartments in a regular pattern.  Each of these is a cluster of embryos.  There can be 10s to 100s of embryos per cluster (depending on the size of the female laying the eggs)...and up to ~1 million embryos per string!

Here's another view.  The animal responsible for these will be revealed below the photo: 


And the answer is...these are egg strings of a California Sea Hare (Aplysia californica)!

Stephanie also documented a few adults washing up on the beach:


The embryos will take a little over 1 week to develop.  Then the free-swimming larvae (veligers) will spend ~1 month in the plankton before undergoing metamorphosis to become tiny sea hares.  

California Sea Hares are uncommon in this region (they're generally a more southern species), so let us know if you spot any and if they're laying eggs.

P.S.  Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing these great photos! 

P.P.S.  For a few other sea hare pictures from Miwok Beach in May 2015, see the post called "Munching at Miwok."

2 comments:

Annaliese Hettinger said...

I have to admit that I was expecting and hoping for a noodle wig picture ;).

Jackie Sones said...

Hmmm...might need to try to work that out!

:) Jackie