Thursday, March 29, 2012

floating sea snail ~ 03/29/12 ~ Coast Guard Pier

posted 05/12/12 - It's thanks to Neil's (one who has many online profiles) comment on my previous salps post that I got a lead on the ID of this marine snail. Since it's such a different animal, I've moved it to its own post. And guess what? It eats salps. It was buffet day for this fantastic purple-lipped Carinaria. I had a good time looking for information on this little known animal. Make sure to check out the embedded links above in the ID for informative sites. Very cool. Thanks, Neil!

salps ~ 03/29/12 ~ Coast Guard Pier

Salpa spp.
Family Salpidae

posted 05/07/12 - The strangest creatures get washed into the area between the Monterey Coast Guard Pier/breakwater and the boating gas station near the Monterey Bay Boatworks. I was told by one of the guys on a large fishing vessel that these were jellyfish eggs. I don't know. There seemed to be 3 different types all at least 2-7" in length: round-oblong with reddish-orange circles, chains of smaller ones with the same reddish-orange circles, and a long fin-like creature with purple lips. All seemed to have moving parts that acted like mouths. Like many jellies that get caught in this area, they were only here for one day, maybe in conjunction with the tide. Can you ID?

ps 05/09/12 - Thanks to the generous comments below, I was able to place a general ID on what I originally posted as unknown jelly-like animals. As I looked up information, I added additional photos to show the variety I found. Plus, I'm moving the purple-lipped Carinaria sp. to its own new post. Most online pictures and information were done by scuba divers, so it's possible that salps are unusual to find close to the surface and near the shore, even though they're reportedly quite common in the ocean. There were so many that it wasn't too difficult to take pictures. The hardest part was trying to reduce the glare over the water, so I laid flat on my belly leaning over the docks to snap pictures in the shadows. My best guess is that all the ones shown here belong to the family Salpidae, which is a type of tunicate. To be honest, I don't remember ever hearing of these animals before.

As you can see, not all of them are pointy on both ends, so I do not believe all of them are Salpa fusiformis. There were also one-ended points, chains (clones which become sequential hermaphrodites), round with fringed edges, and large tubulars with wide openings on both ends. Notice each has a small compact round, reddish-orange gut, which apparently helps distinguish Salpa from several other Salpidae, such as Helicosalpa virgula? I had difficulty finding specific information, so I wonder if some of these might be Iasis spp. or Weelia spp. My favorite site for these animals is Dave Wrobel's The JelliesZone. And, yes, salps are chordates, so they're more closely related to us than to jellyfish. Wild! As of 2 weeks ago, salps made the news because there were such massive numbers that they clogged an intake screen at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which is a couple hundred miles southeast of Monterey near MontaƱa de Oro.