Monday, September 7, 2015

Skeleton Shrimp, Feather Duster Worm, and 18-scaled worm

There are two skeleton shrimp on top of the piece of kelp in the center of the container in this video. The one to the left is carrying many, many juvenile skeleton shrimp on its body while the one above seems to check on the other. Perhaps a pair? Or a curious neighbor? There is something curiously cute about these skeleton shrimp and their mannerism.

To the left you can see a feather duster worm and maybe a nereid worm?

 This is an 18-scale worm upside down, followed by a video of it right side up revealing its scales. It's "feet" are broom-like. It must be used for filtering or some other purpose.


 This is the feather duster worm's radioles? radioli?


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Pelagic Crabs in OC

 I woke up Sunday morning reading in the news about a rare occurrence of pelagic crabs washing ashore in San Diego and was pleasantly surprised later that day to see them all over our favorite beach in Dana Point.

They wash ashore and get stranded and apparently they're showing up here because of warmer winter waters earlier this year. Poor things. Imagine if they were clean and we'd known when they were coming, someone could have set up a motu picnic for all of OC's beach goers.  

So this must be related to the El Nino that hasn't transpired. The rare appearance of velella velella late last year must be related to this warmer water as well as the great white sharks in Seal Beach. We shall see what the rest of this interesting year brings.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Parasites on Navanax and more eggs

Here is a navanax with its internals showing. Can you see the tiny orange creatures running around on it? What do you think they are? Parasites? Sea slug fleas? Why are they on it? For protection? Food? Do you notice the two leg-like limbs coming off the ends of them? This begs a specimen and a microscope don't you think? I looked it up and believe they're copepods, Why do you think the navanax is exposing its insides? It's not easy finding answers to these things. 

Here are some more eggs the kids found at the bay. It's like jelly lace. If you look closely you can see the individual eggs. Are these also snail eggs?

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Dramatic Life of Aphids

We always get these yellow oleander aphids on our Monarch caterpillar host milkweed plant. They are beautiful and match the beautiful colors of the flowers. 

And they move. Together. In sync. Isn't that odd? What do you think they're doing? Watch it here on this video: 

Why? Why do you think they move like that? How do they know to move? Is it triggered by one aphid? Or is it timed?

It's curious for a tiny little insect isn't it?

A friend found this article which explains it all. They believe it's a collective defense by the aphids to ward off a parasitic wasp that lays it's larvae in the aphid's body.

I came across aphid carcasses that were victims of this horrible process back in 2013 in our garden on our tomatillo plant. I'm not sure what aphids these originally were, but in the end they looked like this:

So much for those beautiful aphids. Why do you think they swell to such a round shape? 

Amazing and dramatic lives they live right under our noses and hardly noticed. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Newborn Monarch Under Microscope

Found this little guy on our milkweed this morning. I watched it for a while and he was so afraid to leave the safety of the rib of the leaf where he clung... or so it seemed to me :)

Here are some images of an unhatched egg from the same plant under the microscope. I had to see if it really looked like the corn cob image in the children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar - it does!

Both larva and egg are back in the garden on the milkweed now to "...spin and die, to live again a butterfly."

Here is a video of a monarch larva cocooning. It's from an earlier set of monarchs from a few weeks ago. Interestingly, there were three of them - two under our kitchen window and one on this loose window we had leaning against the wall in the garden - and they all cocooned on the same day and emerged from their cocoons on the same day.

They cocooned March 16, 2015. And then emerged April 2, 2015. Exactly 17 days. Here is the butterfly getting ready to emerge - the cocoon becomes translucent and the creature to emerge is clearly visible. 

In case all of this makes you want to sing for joy, you can!

Here's a link to another post with more pictures of the Monarch under the microscope:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bubble Snails at the Bay

On a nice day in February, we headed to the bay in Long Beach, not exactly OC, but close enough. The waters here are calm on this side of the peninsula creating a different habitat for sea-life.

As we walked in the water we could feel slime at times on the bottom and saw many of these bubble snails all over. We guessed Spring is on its way and it's mating season. 

When you put the bubble snail in a container, it oozes slime as you can just above the rear of this snail - the slime with bubbles trapped in it. Why does this snail slime so much?

We came back in early June and found what we think are its eggs floating along the edges of the water looking like debris more than eggs, until you look closely. It's beautifully striped. 

We brought a piece home and took a look under the microscope. 

There stripes are in fact rows, upon rows, upon rows of tiny eggs!

Here you can see how they are very busy eggs. Why do they spin so much?  

We saw many little bubble snails everywhere this time. 

Here are some other curious snail eggs we found along with a navanax. The collar type structure is a moon snail's egg collar and it has some other type of eggs pasted onto it. 

And here's a ziploc bag that the kids found in the water with even more of the unidentified eggs on it. The snail was glad to have something sturdy to lay its eggs on.

How does a creature so slimy create such remarkable egg structures?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Song Sparrow and a Carpet of Greens

Our song sparrow is back! We heard it's unmistakable song for the first time yesterday and again today. In 2013 I noted in a notebook that I heard it the first week of February. This is a video posted by someone else on Youtube of its sweet song announcing the coming of Spring! 

The maps of its habitat shows that they are a year round resident here so maybe it is like the yellowthroat - here all year, but only sings it's song in the spring. Could it really be that they are just silent without song all those months?

The ground at O'Neill Regional Park was covered in a lush carpet of greens this past week. They grow, awakened by the rains, all reaching for the sun together in beautiful harmony. We saw cutleaf geranium, shepherd's purse just beginning to bloom and some nettle, wild cucumber in full bloom, signs of chaparral sweet pea, and many other old friends to look forward to this spring.