Category: Marine Invertebrates


The Octopus and the Pufferfish

During our recent expedition to Belize, we were able to observe Caribbean Reef Octopus nightly as we explored the intertidal near our water huts on the edge of Glover’s Atoll.
We watched in fascination as the octopus fished under coral rubble by elongating their arms  ladened with sensory suckers which can taste their food once captured. Their beak/mouth is positioned at the base of their 8 arms and as Erica Berg keenly observed, their mouth is in their armpits!
We noticed a small sharpnose pufferfish become momentarily trapped by a sucker then quickly released as the octopus likely detected the unfavorable catch. Puffers contain tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin which protects the puffer from predation. Bobbing to the surface, the tiny puffer inflated it’s body and wobbled away.
Our group of women were such keen observers! We learned from each other sharing our daily observations during our 12 day blue water adventure! Join a natuarlist-led adventure at http://www.bluewaterventures.org!
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We were simply spellbound watching a reef squid feeding at night on our recent BVI Multi Sport Sailing Adventure! The video captures the pulsating chromatophore color cells and the lighter feeding tentacles waiting to strike. It happened so quickly that we missed capturing it on the video, but we’ will all remember the rapid strike and entanglement of a tiny fry fish, possibly a silverside.

The next morning, several of us encountered a school of over 60 reef squid watching us as we watched them! So many great moments in the Caribbean! Join us at www.bluewaterventures.org.

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During our naturalist-led kayaking trips in Elkhorn Slough, we discuss what lives both above and below this rich ecological wetland area. The eelgrass beds are expanding due to an interplay among three Slough species.

A fascinating relationship has developed among the Taylor sea hare, their crab predator and the charismatic coastal marine mammal, the southern sea otter, Enhydra lutris nereis. During the early 1980’s, Elkhorn Slough and its associated eelgrass beds experienced a recruitment of the southern sea otter. As the otter’s range expanded into the slough, the population of Phyllaplisai taylori expanded correspondingly since otters started keeping a check on several crab species, which prey on the slug.

Not only did Phyllaplisai taylori expand in numbers but also they tended to live longer and grow larger with fewer pressures from crab predation.560220_871548582889436_8191899317797331968_n-1

As the slugs flourished in the Elkhorn Slough, the eelgrass beds became notably healthier. The slugs grazed upon many of the encrusting algae forms that would otherwise compete with eelgrass for sunlight. Acting as a nursery arena for a variety of marine fauna, healthy beds of Zostera marina is a highly desirable trend.

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During certain times of the year, we observe a high density of certain sea jellies such as the Red Eye Sea Jelly caught on video here.

Join our next naturalist-led adventure with
http://www.bluewaterventures.org
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator & Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: (831) 459 8548
email: bluewaterventuressc@gmail.com
website: http://www.bluewaterventures.org
127 Mason St, Santa Cruz CA 95060

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Our Blue Water adventures are planned according to the tides, not a bad way to live at all! The recent extreme high and low tides, rain or shine have offered some true adventures along our California Coast.

Our week of King tides promoted by the alignment of the earth moon and sun offers so many opporunties to see our coast in a new perspective…get out there and look around or join us at http://www.bliewaterventures.org.

Our tours are all naturalist-led and highly informative.

 

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Always incredible discoveries in the shallows of Elkhorn Slough. The predatory sea slug, Navanax was noticed by one of our young clients on a private guided family outing today.
Using chemoreceptors, this colorful slug seeks out the slime trails produced by other slugs such as the colorful hermissenda nudibranch.

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Navanax is a voracious predator known to both eat and mate with other Navanax slugs it may encounter. Join us on a private family outing with http://www.bluewaterventures.org.

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Our group of Mt Modonna Students were thrilled to learn about the California Sea Hare during our kayaking field trip to Elkhorn Slough. Sea hares, a large marine slug can emit a midly toxic purple dye as a defense. Slow moving grazers, they are simultaneous hermaphrodites and are sometimes found in large mating masses known as daisy chains or roman circles

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We also found the gelantious Ctenphore or comb jelly which empowers sicky cells rather than  stinging cells like the true sea jellies (cnidarians) employ. IMG_0692

Mt Modonna’s Pal program matches a senior as a role model with a 3rd grader during adventures throughout the school year. Super cool and highly effective concept.

Teachers, join us on a naturalist-led field trip with bluewaterventures.org. We love our outdoor classroom!

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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.

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Bioluminescence Night Kayaking


tumblr_lb8aepifVZ1qda2n5o1_1280Last night we had an amazing light show during our first of several bioluminescence night paddles in Elkhorn Slough. Before the water began to sparkle with light producing dinoflagellates, sea otters and harbor seals popped up near by. Marine mammal interactions are quite different at night. Many species produced a “cold light”, a chemical reaction that emits sparks of light. Bioluminescence may serve as a warning, a lure, communication or mate selection. As our paddles glided through the water, light exploded below us, light dripping from the paddles.

We’ve added 2 more Bioluminescence night paddles, Sept 12th and 13th. We hope teachers will bring their students as well booking a school field trip during September and early October. Details at:www.bluewaterventures.org. Photos from internet, my water camera is in repair!

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