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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ultra Violet mystery

On 7 and 8 December 2017, I showed two mystery photos:

If you guessed that this is a type of crustacean (i.e., the group that contains crab, lobster, and shrimp, among other animals), you are correct.  So the next question is, what type of crustacean?

Here's another close-up, revealing a bit more. This animal was ~2.5 cm long.

Meet Betaeus harfordi!   This is a shrimp in a group that is sometimes referred to as "hooded shrimps."  In the second close-up (above), and in the photos below, you can see that the carapace extends up and over and slightly in front of the eyes.

Older summaries about this species describe it as dark purple, blue-black, or deep blue.  The first individual we photographed (above) showed strong purple coloration, but we also looked at a second individual that tended towards the blue side:

Here are the two together so you can compare the colors.  [The photographs below were taken outdoors in natural light, rather than indoors in the lab.]

Betaeus harfordi has an interesting life history.  This shrimp has an obligate association with abalone.  It lives in the mantle cavity of abalone along the West Coast (all eight species).

A shrimp leaves the shelter of the abalone to feed at night, but then returns to its host during the day.  (Interestingly, a shrimp can sense the presence and location of its abalone host chemically!) 

Here are two more photos.  Note the "hood" over the eyes and the interesting claws (with the movable portion of the claw at the bottom):

Many thanks to our colleagues who study abalone for sharing these fascinating symbiotic shrimp!

P.S.  The "harfordi" part of the scientific name refers to William G.W. Harford, director of the California Academy of Sciences from 1876-1886.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

At twilight

Today didn't go quite as planned, so I ran out of time again.  I should be able to pull together the "Ultra Violet mystery" story tomorrow.  

Tonight I'll leave you with a beautiful Pacific Golden-Plover (Pluvialis fulva) on the outer beach at twilight:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Another clue

Well, I need to apologize.  I ran out of time again, but here's another clue to last night's mystery, and I promise to show the entire animal tomorrow!

More soon!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pantone preview

Here's a mystery close-up for you.  Partly because I'm excited to introduce this animal, but I don't have time to put together an entire post tonight.  And partly because it showcases the new Pantone Color of the Year!

I'll reveal the identity of this animal tomorrow night, so stay tuned.

And the Pantone Color of the Year for 2018?  Ultra Violet!
You can read more about it here. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fly fishing?

On the way to the post office today, I noticed a few Bonaparte's Gulls (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) near shore at Spud Point (along the west side of Bodega Harbor).

I stopped briefly to take a look and was intrigued to see that they appeared to be catching flying insects.  While sitting on the water, they would paddle forward and then snatch suddenly at something above the surface of the water.  I couldn't see the insects, but the behavior and situation made me wonder if the gulls were flushing and catching flies?

Here are a few pictures:

Monday, December 4, 2017

Another little one

Juvenile Bat Star (Patiria miniata)only ~2 cm across at its widest.  This individual is regrowing two of its arms (the top two in this photo) that were apparently damaged previously.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Supermoon photographed in Bodega Bay on 3 December 2017.  Wow!