During our yearly expedition to the Sea Of Cortez, we made an incredible discovery. A tiny, barely discernible commensal shrimp was found living among the tube feet of Bradley’s Sea Star (Mithrodia bradeyi). The sea star shrimp (Periclimenes sorer) was barely visible until we realized it was mimicing the tube feet of the sea star.
Category: Nature News
On our last groupon offering of the season, we had a great view of a rare visitor to Elkhorn Slough, the Stellar Sea Lion, Eumetopias janatus. An adult male will get your attention weighing in at 2400 pounds, three times the weight of a California Sea Lion male. They are easily distinguished by their size and golden mane of thick fur around their neck which only the males develop. They lack a sagittal crest, the distinguishing bump on the forehead that the California Sea lion males develop.
During their breeding and pupping season from late May to mid July, you may view Stellar Sea Lions on Ano Nuevo Island which marks their southern range for pupping. While numbers have diminished drastically over the last 100 years, the largest concentration of Stellars occur in the Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian islands. During the late 1800’s through 1930’s, Stellar sea lions here hunted for their oil and hides. Through the 1950’s, sea lion hunts were established by commercial fisheries in an effort to reduce numbers and the impact Stellars had on commeically viable fish. When kayaking near sea lion dock in North Moss Landing Harbor, be sure to allow extra space between you and the dock when the territorial Stellar Sea lion is present.
Join us on a naturalist-led kayaking adventure in Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay, Baja, Belize, Tonga and beyond!
The Creature Featured today is the Monterey Stalked Tunicate (Styela montereyensis). Also known as sea squirts, the tunicates are more linked to humans than those octopus with clever thoughts, crabs with their fancy jointed appendages or sea hares with their joy of sex (mass orgies). In fact, they belong to a group of animals known as the Urochordates, a subphylum of phylum Chordata, animals with backbones. In their larval form tunicates have a primitive spinal cord, stomach and heart . As free swimming youngsters, they sport an appearance resembling a tiny tadpole or human embryo. As adults, Styela montereyensis claim a sedentary life attached to a surge channel or the ocean floor filtering plankton through their dual siphons. Check out http://www.bluewaterventures.org for our next naturalist-led adventure.
Here’s an unusual find, the internal shell structure of a sea butterfly, Corolla spectabilis. As the name implies this pelagic gelatinous snail can swim rapidly through the water as it escapes its predators. To feed, it oozes a muscus snare to capture its planktonic prey. We found this while exploring Greyhound Rock. Winter offers excellent tides that may reveal unusual sea creatures.
To learn more about this interesting species found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary check out: http://jellieszone.com/corolla.htm
While surf fishing today, we were distracted by the tide pools. Leptaasterias hexactis, known also as the Six Rayed or Brooding Sea Star only reaches a size of slightly more than 3 inches. This particular star pictured has lost a leg to an intertidal predator. While many sea stars reproduce by broadcasting their egg and sperm into the water column, these little stars are attentive mothers. Females will stand guard over a mass of yellow eggs and then guard her young stars until they are foraging on their own.Tasty mollusks such as the Lined Chiton are considered a delicacy by these tiny echinoderms. The brooding process may take several months all while the female is fasting.
Learn more on our next extreme tidepooling adventure for families on October 19th, 2013 at http://www.bluewaterventures.org
Imagine a huge egg cracked over an indigo blue fry pan the size of a trampoline and you have found Phacellophora camtschatica, the egg yolk sea jelly! A savory meal for the oddly shaped Mola Mola sunfish, other gelationous creatures and sea turtles, this fascintating sea jelly resides in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. While out looking for humpback whales this morning by kayak, we paddled by numerous gelantionous species such as Chrysaora colorata, formerly Pelagia colorata and commonly known as the Purple sea jelly.
Our Bioluminescence paddle last night in Elkhorn Slough was super cool! The water glowed with dinoflagellates, a single cell bioluminescent protist, a grouping of species that may have some animal as well as plant like characteristics. Some dinoflagellates are responsible for red tide as seen in the video below while others such as zooxanthellae feed their coral host through photosynthesis.
Our next Bioluminescence Paddle is September 28th. Join us! Details at our blue water ventures website atwww.bluewaterventures.org
Hope to Glow with you!
Kim Powell, MRPA
Owner, Operator &Naturalist
Blue Water Ventures
phone & fax: 831-459-8548
There are those teachable moments be it in a traditional classroom or in an outdoor setting, that both student and teacher will never forget. On the final day of Coastal Kayak Explorer’s Camp we shared one of those moments.
Each summer Blue Water Ventures based in Santa Cruz, CA offers a variety of marine science camps. Kim Powell, owner of Blue Water Ventures leads our summer camps. Kim has been conducting wilderness expeditions for students since 1985. She is a certified sea kayaking instructor through the American Canoe Association and Wilderness First Responder. Kim loves sharing her knowledge of the marine world through a fun and informative approach. She has been the Director of Marine Science Camps in several Caribbean locations in addition to Central California.
In the last few days, hundreds of Humboldt Squid, Dosidicus gigas have washed ashore in Santa Cruz County and reasons are still unknown. The stranded squid are mostly well fed juveniles. Speculations include effects of a toxic algae bloom and onshore currents which may have disoriented these otherwise deep dwelling invertebrates. These animals are extremely adaptable and seem to be adjusting to oceanic climate changes. They can thrive in low oxygen layers of the ocean starting 300 meters deep, a vast midwater area that apprears to be expanding.
Known in Mexico as “Diablo Rojo, Humboldt Squid are voracious predators which could adversely effect the natural balances within our Monterey Bay ecosystem. Historically, they were not found in our colder bay water but may have first appeared in Monterey Bay during an El Nino event in 1997. Since then, they have extended their northern range as far as Alaska. Historically, these unique cephalopods ranged along the Pacific coast of Central and South America.
Despite these concerns, it is an opportunity to learn from an animal that typically flourishes at depths exceeding 2000 feet. Many of our local kids are fascinated by creatures of the Monterey Canyon and the Deep Sea. Though it may be disturbing for some, a visit to our beaches now affords a unique learning adventure.
Join Blue Water Ventures every year as we lead groups of intrepid thrill seekers to view Elephant Seals found basking, fighting, birthing and mating along the California Coast. Our destinations include seal rookeries at Ano Nuevo, Piedras Blancas and Point Reyes.
We offer hikes for all ages. April-May is very popular with our school field trip program at Ano Nuevo where the weaned pups known as “weaners” are frolicking in the puddles.
January finds our naturalist on the road to Piedras Blancas, south of Big Sur for incredible viewing during the height of mating season.
Our summer Marine Science and Kayaking Camp includes a day at Ano Nuevo when the massive males have returned from Alaska to molt.
Never a dull Blue Water moment when it comes to watching Elephant Seals–Join us!