Archive for October, 2015

Truly a great find yesterday while tidepooling at Davenport Landing, Octopus rubenscens, the red octopus! Watch closely and you will see that it’s spotted appearance mimics the bits of shell that are adhering to the sea anemones in the background. The spots disappear for a moment and the body develops a deep red hue as it passes over a patch of purple urchins then quickly develops the molted spots as it nears the shell laden anemones again. Incredible.
Octopus are masters of disguise and accomplish their pigment changes using chromatophores,1000’s of color cells that are embedded in their skin. By expanding or contracting these sacs of pigment they can instantaneously alter their color to match their surroundings. They may even morph the texture of their skin to mimic algae, rocks or coral.



Another magical night in Elkhorn Slough with a great group of home schooled seniors with

On moonless summer ~fall nights as the dusk or crepuscular feeders are finishing up a meal, the light show produced by bioluminescence dinoflagellates is about to unfold. One such algae is Noctiluca scintilllians and our plankton tow from last night may reveal this species or others. Noctiluca is a bioluminescent dinoflagellate capable of generating light. A variety of marine species exhibit bioluminescent properties, a chemical reaction between the compound luciferin and the enzyme luciferase. Bacteria within the species may also produce cold light.

Marine species have bioluminescence qualities for a variety of reasons. They may flash a particular pattern of light to attract a mate or to startle a predator. Other species may have bioluminescence to lure a curious yet unsuspecting prey towards them providing an easy meal. While a single dinoflagellate may only have a diameter of .5mm, collectively they can produce an impressive amount of “sea sparkle” in the water column.
bDSC02517What an extraordinary day on the Bay! The whale activity continues to be awesome and I would recommend a camera with a good zoom! Keep adjusting your position and be alert to changes both in weather and whales. Paddling in the fog is treacherous and motorboats can’t see you. Viewing wildlife from from our beaches is excellent now or paddle with an expeirenced partner or guide.
It’s busy out there and not for inexperienced boaters. In fact, in the last 3 weeks we’ve heard reports of paddlers getting into trouble, hoping to get out to the whales. The supermoon brought extreme tidal changes with a dangerous ebb flow out the harbor mouth where boaters dumped and were flushed out to sea.

DSC02515The humpbacks are diving to feed at depth as well as lunge feeding at the surface. Using their plates of baleen that hangs from the upper jaw, they filter out their prey of choice, currently anchovies.
The cliffs above Mitchel’s Cove, West Cliff of Santa Cruz still has regular visits by ” Mitch” a humpback whale who will lunge feed in 10 feet of water, 30 feet from shore! People are lining up on shore for the best view ever and its free!