Tag Archive: tidepooling


Teachers, friends and team builders… Blue Water Ventures offers Extreme Tidepooling along the Central California Coast. The most interesting find yesterday was a pseudoconch, an internal structure of a sea butterfly, Corolla spectabillis. As the name implies this gelatinous pelagic snail can swim rapidly through water to escape predators. Know your tides and never turn your back on the big blue. Come explore, discover and learn with http://www.bluewaterventures.org

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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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Imagine a jellied filled sac, a simple life form that saw the Dinosaurs come and go, flourishing on earth for over 300 million years. You have no brain nor heart or even a proper anus. You have just consumed the soft juicy tissues of a California mussel, dislodged from the grasps of its stringy cementing agent by a powerful wave. The calcareous mussel shell pops out of your mouth that serves as both the beginning and end of your digestive tract.

Sea anemones, though a mere bundle of jelly, are formidable predators. They are armored with 1000’s of stinging cells known as nematocyst that capture their prey. The aggregating anemone pictured here can produce sexually through the dispersal of egg and sperm or asexually by cloning. Essentially, they pull themselves apart creating a genetic clone over and over again until they blanket their rocky condo. Specialized warrior polyps on the edges of the colony inflate with powerful nematocyst cells that will attack neighboring colonies. In some cases a neutral zone between colonies will be established where each colony is spared the lethal reach of the other.

 

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Have you ever wandered a beach and found seashells with a small holed drilled into it? There are several marine snails that use their radula, a file like tongue to bore into their prey. Among them is the moon snail. The tiny single holes in the bivalves pictured here were made by a predatory snail, perhaps a moon snail or oyster drill. The photo reveals a shell on the right which is riddled with multiple tiny holes. This is from the dissolving activity of a boring sponge in the genus, Cilonia. These sponges use a dissolving chemical to bore into calcium rich species such as snails and corals. Rather than seeking prey, boring sponges are in pursuit of a habitat taking up residence in a calcareous animal….life on a gulf coast beach.

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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.DSCF36282

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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.
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To learn more about this interesting species found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary check out: http://jellieszone.com/corolla.htm

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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

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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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

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Join Blue Water Ventures every february in Baja  as we explore the underwater world of  gray whales and other marine wonders.  We’ll seek eye to eye encounters with California gray whales, snorkel with sea lions and offer an opportunity to swim with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.

 

For centuries, California gray whales  have traveled 10,000 miles round trip between their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and their winter breeding/calving grounds in the Pacific lagoons of Baja. Traveling in small skiffs into Magdalena Bay, we will wait for the whales to approach us. Close encounters are a common occurrence and quite thrilling. Naturalist-led beach hikes and kayaking excursions through the mangroves of Magdalena Bay will also be offered. In the ruggedly beautiful Espiritu Santos Island in the Sea of Cortez we will kayak, snorkel, fish, hike and relax from our dramatically scenic beach camp. At both sites, we have the comfort and ease of boat supported base camps.