Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blue-eyed beach critter

Nebalia pugettensis, aka "Sea flea" or "Mud flat hooded shrimp". (But neither a shrimp nor a flea.) A Leptostracan.

He's mostly transparent; the shadow is somehow more substantial than he is.

I found some of these, dead, at Boundary Bay four years ago. This is the first live one I've seen. It was in a shallow tide pool where I was unsuccessfully trying to catch a sculpin. This little critter waltzed right into my collecting jar, and came home with me.

I wrote about these long ago, here (Part II of Muddy Buddies) and here (Part III).

nebalia drawing

Nebalia as I saw it and drew it, having no camera in those days.

It was a little harder to see this one, as I had to manipulate it very carefully, and it kept hiding in the sand. I couldn't get a microscope on it without hurting it, or breaking those almost invisible legs and tail.

If you look very closely, you can almost see the pointed tail of the carapace.

The whole carapace is transparent. This includes a separate, pointed rostrum over the head, and the long spine at the back. All the colour comes from the body of the animal underneath.

And a strange thing; all my dead samples had ruby red eyes; this guy's eyes are blue.


  1. This is extraordinary! those blue eyes are amazing.

  2. You drawing reminds me of my science journals in high school and college. I always found rendering what I saw into a picture. Maybe I should try that again for a change from all my photography. - Margy

  3. Margy, that's an idea! Our eyes see what the camera doesn't. (And vice versa.) Maybe we should draw and paint a bit more.

  4. That does not appear to be Nebalia. I think that it is a zoeia larva of a ?crab.

  5. Thanks, Wade. That may explain the blue eyes.


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