Thursday, May 14, 2015

Candy on a stick

"Tis the season. For laying eggs, hundreds and thousands and millions of eggs. And the bubble shells are enthusiastic egg-layers. Almost every blade of fuzzy eelgrass in the lower intertidal zone carries, somewhere, another blob of transparent jelly filled with yellow eggs.

But not all the eggs are theirs. I was surprised to see a large, pale pink decoration on one stalk in knee-deep water.

Pale pink eggs, without jelly, in messy eelgrass.

I looked for more, and found a few, some very pink, some almost white. The clumps were not like the usual jelly masses that snails leave, nor like the ribbons most nudibranchs create. These were short sausage-like tubes, glued to the eelgrass at the centre and loose at the ends; each one waved separately in the current.

But what laid these?

I found another mass in shallower water, glued to the inside of a clamshell. And with it, another of the opalescent nudibranchs, Hermissenda crassicornis. A clue!

Mother and babies?

At home, I Googled opalescent nudibranch eggs, and there they were; in most photos, the eggs were white, but some had a pinkish cast. And I found a photo of one laying her eggs, on Flickr.

I brought one of the pinker masses home to look at more closely.

Pink. Candy floss pink.
Zooming in. Hundreds of eggs in each "sausage".

I added the egg mass to my tank, but it didn't last. A few hours later, I found a hermit happily eating pink sausages. The next day, they were all gone.

Looks delicious!


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