Thursday, August 10, 2017


Growing up, I learned to call them fish: starfish, jellyfish, even sunfish. Why, I wonder? They're not fish; it makes no more sense than if I were to call the crabs, "crabfish" or "hermitfish". And I had also learned never to call a whale a fish; that would be silly.

Common names are sometimes really odd.

This is a purple sea star, Pisaster ochraceus, or, translating the Latin, ochre starfish. Yes, the "fish" part is there in the Latin, too; Pisaster is a combination of Piscis, fish, and Aster, star.

Scientific names are sometimes really odd, too.

I had automatically named the file, "Starfish". The habit is deeply ingrained.

And these are moon jellies, Aurelia labiata, not jellyfish. "Labiata" derives from the Latin, "Labiatus", lip. There is probably a good reason for that name, but I can't find it.

At the border between gentle waves and wet sand.

A second moon jelly, exposed on the sand at low tide.

The four lilac semi-circles are the animal's gonads. The female's are usually a paler pink, or even whitish.

Just a reminder:

... plastic bags that end up in the ocean often look like jellies to animals that depend on these drifting creatures for food. Thousands of turtles and birds die each year after swallowing indigestible wads of plastic mistaken for jellies. (From Monterey Bay Aquarium)

If you see a plastic bag on the beach, pick it up and trash it, please!


  1. Starfish to me.Now called "sea stars" apparently. And what you call "sand dollars" are, in Scandinavia, called "mermaids' pennies"
    Bless Linaeus for making it easier for us gardeners!

  2. Interesting that the "fish" in starfish goes back to its Latin roots.


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