A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I might not be sharing photographs of spider web threads for a while (see "Shifting sun" post from 31 July 2017). However, I searched a different spot in the backyard this morning and I found a nice orb web with the sun hitting it just right in a few places.
I continue to puzzle over these dramatic colors. And I've been wondering — as the angle of the sun shifts with the seasons, will the colors in the spider web strands change?
It was hard to choose among the many photos from the E/V Nautilus dive at Bodega Canyon yesterday (11 August 2017). Here are a few of our favorite screenshots. [Click on the images for larger versions.]
Crinoid, or feather star, probably Florometra serratissima
Deep-sea nudibranch, Tritonia tetraquetra
Although Tritonia seems to have been the most common nudibranch species observed on these dives, a few other species have appeared.
Finding the nudibranch in the next image is harder. The ROV was focused on the primnoid coral (see white branches at right side of photo) covered by beige and yellow zoanthids (the dominant animals in the image). But look for the small white nudibranch in the upper left corner!
[In case you're wondering, zoanthids are
cnidarians with features similar to corals and anemones, but they don't
have hard skeletons and their tentacle arrangement is different from
The views of deep-sea bamboo corals were spectacular:
Bamboo corals are in the family Isididae. I'm just learning about these corals, but I think the individuals pictured here might be in the genus Keratoisis. Although bamboo corals are named after their beautiful skeletons with a banding pattern similar to bamboos, it was fun to see these living corals, with their dense peach-colored polyps:
The next coral species is Isidella tentacula. The "tentacula" part of the name comes from their distinctive 'sweeper tentacles.' Look for them at the base of coral:
Here's a close-up of the sweeper tentacles near the holdfast of the coral (see below). It's thought that these tentacles are defensive, containing concentrations of stinging nematocysts.
Many thanks again to the E/V Nautilus crew for sharing these wonderful deep-sea communities with us. It's been a gift to join you in exploring Bodega Canyon!
P.S. We hope you get in at least one more dive before you head north. And if you happen to see this post, we'd love a few more close-up views of a stalked crinoid (sea lily). :)
Well, we couldn't resist. Eric and I tuned in a few times and then pooled our favorite screen grabs from today's E/V Nautilus dive. [It feels a bit like watching the Olympics. The entire event is short (there are only 4 days left); and, you can tune in at any time and you never know what you're going to see!] A delicate pink soft coral:
This intriguing pink nudibranch was nearby. The color would be a good match for the coral polyps!
A bright Yellow Picasso Sponge, with a great genus name: Staurocalyptus.
It was fun seeing different types of sea pens. The one shown below is called Umbellula. [Sea pens in this genus can be found down to depths of 6000 meters!] If you're intrigued by sea pens, check out this paper by Gary Williams (who is on the ship):
Beautiful stippled patterns on a Deep-sea Sole (Embassichthys bathybius):
Thanks again to the E/V Nautilus for sharing amazing live deep sea footage from Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. You can tune in here until August 14th.
I hope you've been enjoying some of the amazing live deep-sea video footage from the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary this week. If you haven't watched yet, you can tune in at www.nautiluslive.org. They'll be in this area until 14 August 2017.
We saved a few images from today's dive to the "Box Canyon" area between Bodega Canyon and Cordell Bank. Here's a map for reference:
Some of our favorite images were the ledges covered with deep-sea invertebrates — a visual wonder!
Here's a close-up:
I am *not* a deep-sea biologist, but if you need a little help, here's what I think you're seeing — most of the white animals above are large sponges; the yellow animal with feather-like arms at the lower left is a crinoid (feather star); the large anemone on the right is a Venus Flytrap Anemone. They're joined by crabs (upper left), shrimp (upper right), brittle stars and different anemones (center).
I learned something cool about the deep-sea octopus that the ROV has been encountering (see image below). I think it's Graneledone boreopacifica —a species that's known to have the longest embryo-brooding time of any animal at 53 months (almost 4.5 years!). You can read more about it here.
I also learned about a new type of sea star. I was noticing these orange animals (picture below) that looked a little like crinoids and a little like brittle stars. They weren't quite right for either one, so I did more research, and now I think they're brisingid sea stars (not sure which species). Brisingids are unusual sea stars in that they're suspension-feeders, capturing food by creating a net with their arms. You can learn more about brisingids here.
One more shot, featuring a beautiful bamboo coral (gorgonian octocoral) with extended polyps:
Thanks to the E/V Nautilus crew for sharing these amazing images! To see more live discoveries yourself, tune in at www.nautiluslive.org. You'll find it hard to pull yourself away from this incredible glimpse of life in the deep seanot far from Bodega Head.
Juvenile Bat Star (Patiria miniata), only a few days after metamorphosis.
I first wrote about beautiful little sea stars like this a few years ago, so you can review photos of Bat Star larvae and newly-metamorphosed juveniles in the post called "A new star(t)" from 2 August 2013.
Eric raised some Bat Star larvae in the lab again for his summer class, but this time he also recorded a short video.
It's fun to watch these tiny sea stars (~0.5 mm across) exploring and learning to walk with their new tube feet:
The first image is a segment of the skeleton of a bamboo coral. This piece is in the collection at the Bodega Marine Lab. It was collected decades ago from ~500 fathoms off of Bodega Bay.
The second is a single arm of a crinoid, also known as a feather star.
I'm sharing these images with the hope that it encourages you to tune in to live footage of ROV exploration at Bodega Canyon this week. You can watch and listen to scientists documenting corals, crinoids, brittle stars, sea spiders, sponges, octopus, and other unusual deep-sea marine life thousands of feet below the surface. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about a variety of animals that most people never get to see!
In 2008, during a clean-up of abandoned fishing gear near Cordell Bank, a few animals were brought back to the marine lab.
I took a few quick photos of the beautiful crinoids clinging to the old, tangled ropes. Crinoids are a class of echinoderms (related to sea stars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers). There are about 600 species of crinoids in the world. Some crinoid species hold on to the substrate with finger-like cirri (see the cluster of short appendages near the center of the image below).
Most crinoids are known for their long feather-like arms. The side branches of the arms are called pinnules. Crinoids are suspension-feeders. They hold their arms upward (like an upside-down umbrella) and capture food particles drifting down from above.
A long groove runs along the center of the each arm and is lined with clusters of tube feet and modified ossicles (calcified plates) called lappets. The tube feet and the lappets are involved in directing food particles to the central groove which then transports the particles down to the mouth at the center of the arms.
Since we took these pictures almost 10 years ago, Eric didn't have a great video camera yet. But he did capture close-ups of the crinoid tube feet as well as the lappets flipping up and down along the food groove (we think they look like little pinball flippers!). The footage is grainy, but I think you'll be able to appreciate this fascinating feeding behavior. Then when you see crinoids in the live video from Bodega Canyon, you'll be able to think about how feather stars feed!
P.S. Many thanks to Stephanie for sharing these wonderful images!
P.P.S. If you see a Purple-striped Jelly, take a photo and send me a message. I'd love to hear about any additional observations.
P.P.P.S. One name for the August full moon (according to the Ojibwe) is the Blueberry Moon. Since the moon is full on August 7th, this seemed like good timing to honor both the jelly — with its dark purple stripes — and the full moon.
At this time of year, rain is rare in Bodega Bay, but the forecast called for a chance of showers. When I drove into work this morning, there was a nice view of raindrops at the north end of Bodega Harbor:
The surface of the harbor was fairly calm, so it was intriguing to see the detailed patterns of interacting ripples. [Click on the images for larger versions.]
NWS marine forecast descriptions can be relatively "dry," but today's forecast included some nice phrasing:
"Echoes of precipitation can still be observed over the coastal
waters. Expecting chances [of] showers and isolated thunderstorms to
last into this evening as monsoonal moisture continues to pass
over the region."
I especially liked "echoes of precipitation" and "monsoonal moisture."