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Monday, July 16, 2018

Retro mystery -- Part 2

Okay, here's a partial answer to last night's mystery photo.  I'm going to reveal the identity of this animal quickly, so if you want another chance to guess, here's the close-up image:

And now here's the entire animal:

This is an intertidal sculpin photographed in the low intertidal zone on 15 July 2018.  (The fish is resting on a bed of sea squirts.)  Sadly, I'm not sure which species of sculpin it is, so if you are familiar with it, please let me know.  Thanks!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Retro mystery

A close-up mystery photo.  Can you guess what type of animal this is?

What an amazing pattern!  What beautiful colors!  

I'll reveal more about it tomorrow night.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer meander?

It's been foggy and a bit humid lately, but I was still surprised to see this little salamander approaching our front steps this morning:

It was early (~5 a.m.), so perhaps it was wrapping up a nighttime excursion?

I think this is a juvenile Arboreal Salamander (Aneides lugubris), but it's paler than most of the individuals I've seen, so let me know if you think it's something different. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Kite in the clouds

I was sitting inside last night when I thought I heard a White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus) calling outside.  I stepped out to confirm that it was a kite, and sure enough, a kite was displaying in the sky above our housecalling and fluttering its wings with its legs lowered.  And there was a bonus — the clouds were amazing!  Perhaps you saw some of these clouds, too?

Photographed in Cotati on 12 July 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Local jellies

A few nights ago, I promised to show a few more examples of the gelatinous animals that might wash ashore on local beaches at this time of year.  So...here you go!

Two jellyfish:

Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens) — note the golden brown color (beware, sea nettles can cause painful stings)

Moon Jelly (Aurelia sp.) — note the pale purple color

Now, two different hydromedusae:

Giant Bell Jelly (Scrippsia pacifica)note the red eye spots

Aglauropsis aeora — note the faint pink and blue coloration

And the swimming bell of a siphonophore:

Probably Praya sp. — note that in this species the "jelly" material retains its form, and overall this swimming bell has a shape somewhat like a large tooth, i.e., squared off at one end and with two pointed tips at the opposite end.

P.S.  I think I've written a little bit about all of these species before, so if you'd like to learn more about them, scroll to the bottom of the NHBH web page and use the "Search This blog" function.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

B & B

Whew, it's been a busy week, but here's a bee on a buckwheat for you!  Not sure which species of bee yet, but it's sipping nectar and acquiring pollen from Seaside Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifolium).  Photographed on Bodega Head on 11 July 2018.  [Click on the image for a larger version.]

Monday, July 9, 2018

Glowing green

When the winds let up during the summer, sometimes you can find gelatinous animals washed up on the beach — e.g., jellyfish, hydromedusae, siphonophores, ctenophores (also known as comb jellies), and salps.  (I'll show some examples of these animals during the next week.)  

Several days ago I noticed quite a few gelatinous animals, and I was especially curious about some of the comb jellies.  This particular comb jelly (Beroe sp.) doesn't look like much once it ends up on the beach.  It could even just look like a thin patch of slime with a pinkish hue:

But if you look closely, you can see long parallel lines running from one end to the otherthat's your first clue that it's a comb jelly (rather than a jellyfish).

I was looking at these lines (called comb rows) when I thought I saw some green coloration:

In my experience, it's unusual for the comb rows to appear green, so I zoomed in for a closer view:

Definitely green!  So what's going on?

Most (but not all) species of comb jellies are bioluminescent.  That means they can emit light via an internal chemical reaction.  Bioluminescence is often more visible in the dark, so I was a little confused about what I was seeing...and I still am.

On this web page about bioluminescence, I read that "there are strong antioxidant properties to luminescent reactions (i.e., they mop up oxygen radicals) so there may be light produced internally during protective reactions."

Could this be what has happening with the comb jellies washed up on the beach?  I'll have to ask around, but I thought you might like to see the photos, and perhaps you have some ideas about the green color in these comb jellies:

P.S.  Several years ago I showed pictures of this species of comb jelly swimming.  If you'd like to see those pictures, check out the post called "The Pink Predator — Part 2" from 3 November 2014.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Urchin flower?

Doesn't this flower look like a tiny purple sea urchin?

Here's a zoomed-out view:

This is an arrow-grass (Triglochin sp.), a species that grows in our local salt marshes.  I didn't have much time, and I was so focused on the flowers that I didn't confirm which species of arrow-grass, so I'll have to double-check and report back. 

P.S.  I showed Seaside Arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima) in flower last year see "Sparkling, frilly edges" on 26 June 2017.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Bears in flight?

Ranchman's Tiger Moths (Platyprepia virginialis) have been very active on Bodega Head recently.  Have you seen them around?

Here's one perched:

Some people might be more familiar with this moth in its caterpillar stagethey're the local caterpillars known as woolly bears.  For a photo of the caterpillar, check the post called "On the rocks" from 28 March 2012.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Swimming south

What a beautiful day!  And thanks to Lewis alerting me to their presence, I get to share some photos of a small group of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) that swam by Bodega Head today (5 July 2018).

Based on color patterns on the body and the distinctive dorsal fin patterns (nicks along the trailing edge of the fin), my best guess is that there were four adults and one calf.  See what you think:

Dolphin 1:

Dolphin 2:

Dolphin 3:

Dolphin 4:

Here's one shot with Dolphins 2 and 3 side-by-side:

And, the calf!  Head-first:

Then the calf rolling, showing its smaller dorsal fin:

The calf stayed closest to Dolphin 4.  That's the one that just surfacing in the photo above and the grayer individual in the photo below:

One more (not sure which individual this is):

The dolphins were headed south, perhaps starting to round Bodega Head towards Doran Beach.  If the ocean stays calm, it could be good conditions for dolphin-watching.  Let me know if you see them!

P.S.  I'm hoping Bill might be able to help identify these dolphins (if they are known individuals and where they were last seen).  If so, I'll update this post.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Not independent yet

Encounters with River Otters (Lontra canadensis) always have a way of making you feel lucky.

Today (4 July 2018) we observed a mother and two pups.  Above, that's the mother in the middle and one pup to either side.

Here's a close-up of the mother and one pup (below).  It appeared that the pup was riding along on the mother's back (at least in part):

One more, of the two pups together:

River Otter pups stay with their mothers for about 9 months (!).  So these pups aren't independent yet, but they're in-training.

 P.S.  Happy Independence Day! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer shimmer

Purplish Copper (Lycaena helloides), 3 July 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sitting on the doorstep

A tiny Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens) sitting at the entrance of an empty Brown Turban Snail (Tegula brunnea) shell.  It's hard to judge the size, but for perspective, the largest Brown Turban Snails are ~30 mm wide (~1 inch), which is a little larger than a quarter.  When curled up, this octopus was only about half that size!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

1.5 x 1

Yesterday, Eric was doing some work at the microscope when he looked up and said I might want to take a look at something.  He was right, and I think you might like it, too:

A beautiful juvenile chiton!  Here's a close-up of one edge:

I wasn't kidding when I said juvenile chiton.  

 Below, we used a ruler marked with millimeters for scale:

This chiton was only ~1.5 mm long,

and only ~1.0 mm wide:

Not sure which species of chiton it is.  Perhaps Julia will recognize it?  :)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Looking out

Below is a close-up mystery photo for you.  I know it might be challenging, but it's always fun to have a chance to wonder.  Can you guess what structures these are, or what type of organism it is?

If you're ready for another clue (or part of the answer), here's a photo showing a larger view:

The red mound-like structures in the first photo are compound eyes.  The eyes are located on the radioles (feeding tentacles) of the tube worm, Pseudopotamilla socialis.

July 1st is International Polychaete Day, so it seemed appropriate to highlight these amazing polychaete eyes!  (Polychaetes are segmented worms.)

Here's another view of the radioles of Pseudopotamilla showing the compound eyes:

The radioles form a fan or crown just outside of the worm's tube.  The radiolar crown is used for feeding (capturing food particles from the water) and respiration.  Because the compound eyes are found on the radioles, they're called radiolar eyes.

The eyes might serve primarily to detect shadows, so the worm can withdraw quickly into its tube (see below) when a predator (e.g., a fish) passes over.  It's also possible the eyes are involved in more complex visual processing, but further studies are needed.

Pseudopotamilla socialis lives in the low intertidal zone along our shores.  It's relatively small, but if you're looking very closely, you might catch a glimpse of its wonderful fan-like radiolar crown.  And if you see the crown pull back in, you'll know that it's possible that the radiolar eyes detected your presence!

Happy International Polychaete Day!

P.S.  Many thanks to Leslie Harris for confirming our identification.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Little sphere

Eric's summer students found a few intriguing isopods in the rocky intertidal zone this morning.  This one rolled up into a tight little sphere.  You can see its compound eyes and orange antennules at the top, and the last abdominal appendages — a broad pleotelson and a pair of uropods (made up of 4 curved appendages — 2 exopods and 2 endopods) at the bottom.  We believe this is a species of Gnorisphaeroma in the Sphaeromatidae family.  "Sphaero" means ball or spherea wonderful reference to this shape!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A fine line

It's hard for me to resist posting pictures of ribbon worms.  This is a close-up of a Six-lined Ribbon Worm (Tubulanus sexlineatus).  Here's the entire animal:

Photographed in the low intertidal zone on 16 June 2018.

P.S.  For more photos of this species, check out the post called "All lined up" on 20 March 2015.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

No doubt

Woolly-headed Spineflower (Chorizanthe cuspidata var. villosa).  This is an extreme close-up.  In life, the flowers are quite small, only a few millimeters across.  Photographed in the Bodega Dunes on 28 May 2018. 

Sometimes a name just fitsthere's no doubt that this flower is both woolly and spiny!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Two of eight

Two of eight Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) resting in Bodega Harbor on 20 June 2018.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Down below

A few days ago we happened upon this little isopod crawling along a sandy beach.  

Below is another view in Eric's hand.  The isopod was ~15 mm (~0.5 inch) long.


Meet Alloniscus perconvexus!  [We've been calling this one "Allen" for short.  ;)]

This is a terrestrial isopod that lives on the uppermost part of the beach.  

Fun facts about Alloniscus:
  • It's an air-breather.
  • It's a burrower.  You might see its small mole-like burrows at the surface, but it can burrow 7.5-15 cm (3-6 inches) below the surface.
  • It scavenges on beach wrack (seaweeds washed up at the high tide line) at night.
  • Its pereopods (legs) are robust and adapted for burrowing:

This is the last view we had of Allen, burrowing head first beneath the sand: 

Since then I've been wondering about this little isopod's adventures.  What do you think Allen's been up to (or down to)?