Tuesday, May 28, 2013

sea gooseberry ~ 05/28/13 ~ Asilomar Beach

These looked very much like glass cat's eye marbles scattered across the sand.  Since we had no idea what these were, we simply called them "jelly beach marbles."  And, that's exactly what I typed in to start my internet search for an ID.  It seems there are plenty of other folks who are wondering what the heck these common little blobs are, too, but there's so much misinformation around, calling them fish eggs (wrong), baby jellyfish (wrong), to salps (wrong, again). Sea gooseberries are a type of comb jelly, aka ctenophore, different than jellyfish and the myriad of other gelatinous animals. There are several spp. of Pleurobrachia found around the world. Fellow bloggers Jessica Winder @ Jessica's Nature Blog and Phil @ Cabinet of Curiosities have some nice pictures of P. pileus found across the pond.  For stunning feeding photos of P. bachei and a gnarly Beroe sp. (another comb jelly), check out Merry at ScubaBoard.com.

Usually, I avoid touching anything jelly-like on the beach for fear of being stung.  This time my curiosity got the better of me.  I poked one and discovered it didn't hurt at all (well, at least not me).  In my attempts to get the lighting and focus just right for a picture (er, 98 pictures!), I managed to smoosh one in my fingers.  Poor thing.  It's very liquidy.  Next time, I'd like to plop a couple into a jar to see them move.  And for those like me who didn't know, especially since local native gooseberries look nothing like this, here's what a traditional gooseberry is.

habitat ~ 05/28/13 ~ Monterey Municipal Beach

May 28, 2013

Considering our two incredible grunion greeting nights, Dr. Karen Martin wanted to make sure our City's beach maintenance crew knew not to groom where the grunion eggs are safely nestled in the moist sand of the highest tide line.  Yeah, you read that right, as in beach grooming.  I had to chuckle a little bit, because this is Monterey and we're a little more casual about such things. Karen hails from Malibu, where the likes of David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson run around flashing toned and tanned bodies for Hollywood cameras. With all that flashiness down in SoCal, apparently the beaches also get the star spa treatment... which is bad news for grunion eggs.  After a few phone calls and e-mails, I think we're set in making sure our local grunion eggs are not disturbed until they hatch when the next highest tides return with the new moon.

Even with the assurances from City Parks Division and City Public Works, I was a little worried children would have dug huge forts in the sand during the warm weather holiday as I've seen them so often do, so I stopped by the Municipal Beach before lunch to see the beach conditions for myself. Phew! It looks like nothing untoward has happened to the hot spot of hidden grunion eggs. I could be wrong, but I think the only time our crew grooms the beach is before the winter storms and they use a bulldozer to create a massive sand barricade in front of the Rec Trail.

Other than 2 blog posts on crow and sea lettuce and godwit, willet, gull, my numerous photos of Monterey Municipal Beach are dark, fuzzy, and often moonlit from many nights of grunion greeting. So, here are a few pics taken in the daylight for my habitats documentation.  I added additional names in the ID above, because this beach is often mistaken for the others.  In fact, I called this Del Monte Beach in most of my older grunion greeting posts.  Nope.  It's all really a continuous stretch of exposed sand curving northeast, but with very different slope and wave conditions and managed by different agencies. We tried grunion greeting at Monterey State Beach once, but it was extremely dangerous, especially in the dark.