Sometimes you get the crab … and sometimes the crab gets you! The Biological Oceanography students from Florida Tech encountered all sorts of fascinating marine life, and sometimes terrestrial life, during the Pacific Coastal Environments course. The following is a very small sampling of just a few of our favorites:
The sea slug, Dialula, is a large nudibranch with dramatic spots, living in the low to mid intertidal.
The leather sea star, Dermasterias imbricata, proved a bit elusive in the field, but we caught up with them in the lab. They smell like garlic!
The olive snail, Olivella biplicata, was the dominant organism we encountered on Lighthouse Beach. They extend their foot like a sail to catch the incoming and outgoing swash in order to move quickly!
Kai and Simon were crazy for salamanders and made a habit of turning over rotting logs – just to check and see if any were there.
The Gumboot Chiton is the largest species of chiton mollusc on the planet, reaching a length of over a foot and a half in extreme cases. Their girdle has evolved to grow completely over their eight characteristic chiton plates, which are thus internal, and the epidermal consistency is something like suede leather.
The ochre star Pisaster ochraceus of “Keystone Predator” fame. They come in a variety of beautiful colors and, seen here in the low intertidal zone, may be surrounded with red algae (burgundy), soft corals (white), rock-boring sponges (yellow), coralline algae (pinkish-purple), and orange sponges (uh… orange).