Saturday, July 31, 2010

Observations were made during a low but rising tide. Due to the nature of the location, the organisms observed live (for as long as they stay on the float) at a constant depth of up to two feet. The water was clear and the day was sunny and warm.

I first mistook Sea creature #1 for a plant- until it started moving. After I gathered my wits, I noticed that its stick-like body is highly segmented. Five similar organisms from the same cluster of mussels and seaweed ranged from half an inch to one inch in length and from beige/tan to reddish orange in color. The organism appeared to attach itself to seaweed with its hind appendages and flail its upper body outwards. The fore appendages were reminiscent of those of a praying mantis.
Hypothesis: Long-horn skeleton shrimp (Aeginella longicornis). The location fits the range specified in Audubon, and the description is consistent with the organisms I observed. One exception is size: the observed length was only half the reported length.

Sea creature #2 squirted a clear substance when I poked it. It was round with a diameter of about one inch, and three other similar organisms were the same size or slightly smaller. The outer sac was almost leathery, and difficult to cut. It was clear and/or grayish. Inside was a jelly-like substance with orange, brown and white spots that were probably organs.
Hypothesis: A sea grape. Perhaps the common sea grape (M. Manhattensis), which can live on seaweeds in bays and estuaries.

I found sea creature #3 in a spiderweb just above the water, but the presence of at least thirty similar organisms in the cluster of seaweed and mussels we found suggests that it is, in fact, a sea creature. The body was grayish (others were clear, greenish, or even spotted) and 1/4" long (others were half the size, or twice the size). It had at least 6 sets of legs, including a larger set of forelegs; the tail was wispy; and it had antennae.
Hypothesis: Red-eyed amphipod. Based on my observations, it's really impossible to determine which "shrimp, squilla, or horned krill" these were, but this could be one of them (and I'm guessing this is the first one I looked at)!

More creatures, plus plants and pictures, tomorrow.

Alissa Frame

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