Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More critters from the dishpan

Dispan aquarium #2; previous post, #1, here.

The anemones, as promised.

On the White Rock beach, at low tide, Laurie found a piece of kelp in the waves. A blob of a pinkish, jelly-like substance stuck to it. I popped it in my bag of goodies and brought it home to the dishpan.

Freezer bags, White Rock beach

After a while in calm water, it contracted into a neat ball, spit out several mouthfuls of sand, rested a bit more, ...

... and opened up into a luscious pink and white flower.

It's an anenome, maybe the short plumose anemone, Metridium senile. It even has a cloned baby!

See the little one at its foot?

Another piece of kelp bears several smaller anemones, barely half a centimetre wide at the most. The white circles are baby barnacles, hard at work fishing for plankton; with the naked eye, I can see the merest hint of vibration at their mouths.

Peach gelatin anemone. (My name for it.)

Floating in a clump of fine threads of a green algae, I discovered this tiny white anemone. Or is it a jellyfish? It doesn't move about; just hangs there in the water, on its side. When I touch the seaweed around it, it closes up into a little ball.

I have spent hours leafing through my Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest, trying to tentatively identify this, and the next critter, with no luck. As the book says,
"More than 500 cnidarian species live in the Pacific Northwest."
And only 114 of them ended up in the encyclopedia. So I'm forced to invent my own names*, to use until I find the correct ones.

A problem with looking at these tentacled animals is that as soon as you get too close, quite a few of them close up shop. Sometimes even the shadow of the camera is enough. Touch them or take them out of the water, ditto. The only way to see them opened is to sneak up from the dark side, slowly, without disturbing their water.

This mini-critter is attached to a kelp blade. It looks rather like a small anemone encrusted in sand, except for those strange tentacles that curl around to make little loops.

Waving lassos; I'll call it the cowboy anemone.

And on that same kelp, this glassy, 1/2 cm tall fan stands motionless. Out of water, it collapses limply against the kelp, and becomes almost invisible. I think it may be a bryozoan, the Parasol, maybe.

Caulibugula californica?

The encyclopedia says about the Parasol,
"... apparently prefers low-current, often silty locales. ... Would it be noticed in high-current locales that are so often densely packed with life?"
I would answer, "No, not even at its full-grown size (3.5 cm). It's only visible when the light catches it just right.

Oddly, although it is so tiny, so glassy, so delicate, it is also tough. I have moved that piece of kelp around many times, piled it in a bowl to change the water, half-buried it in sand ... As soon as the kelp is freed, the Parasol pops right up again, with all its feathery branches intact.

Still more to come: isopods, snails, clams, and another worm.

*If the authors of the encyclopedia can do this (p.14), so can I.



  1. And the beauty of keeping local animals is that if those budding anemones ever look like they're threatening to take over, you can simply take out the excess individuals and return them to the local bay without any qualms.

  2. Christopher; Exactly! And at the same time, I'm getting to know my local beaches much better than I could by mere sloshing through ankle-deep water for a couple of hours on sunny days.


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