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Archive for the ‘snail’ Category


I can’t believe I missed it this year! I have to forgive myself, though, because I did my first triathlon on Sunday and was pretty focused on surviving that challenge. Pity I completely forgot, though, because the race was in a state park and I indeed could have flipped a rock or two.

You should check out Wandering Weeta’s roundup of blog posts about IRFD, as well as the flickr group.

I’m really happy for the folks that found this slug this year! They think it’s a banana slug, which I’m sad to have never seen despite those years of living in Northern California.

Gastropod
(photo by Susan Thomsen)

Now, for a couple of Friday links.

1. It’s easy to find articles about invasive mollusks, or sad endangered species stories, but it’s heartwarming when you find an article about a snail thought to be extinct that isn’t!

2. I love how different fields in science intersect to do cool work, and here’s a story about studying climate– El Nino and La Nina in particular– by looking at fossil bivalves.

3. Lollusk! This one’s a cutie.

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Most Extreme Tidepooling

A couple of weeks ago my mom and I took one of our annual roadtrips. We decided to go someplace new to both of us: New Brunswick! And as I had to restate many times to New Yorker friends and colleagues: that’s Canada, not Jersey.

The Bay of Fundy is a very interesting place. As anyone who did Geography Bee in middle school might be able to tell you, the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world (though people who live near Ungava Bay will dispute that).

In St. John there is a place called Reversing Falls, which is obviously a misnomer, but we did visit it twice and see rapids in two different directions, once when the river was rushing into the bay and once when the tide was rushing in stronger than the river rushes out!

The Hopewell Rocks are extremely cool formations in the Bay of Fundy caused by the tidal erosion, so of course we went at low tide. Check them out!

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We were there just at the beginning of the window of time during which it’s possible to walk on the ocean floor among the rocks. I was curious what kinds of creatures might be able to live in this most extreme intertidal zone. My answer: snails!

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The photos of these snails are a little wonky because they were well above my head! Many of them were also out and about rather than clamped onto the rocks, which I found curious. Apart from these snails and barnacles, there was a lot of kelp. The sea floor being exposed as the tide continued to go out was extremely muddy, so it didn’t look hopeful for seeing any other lifeforms. Still, what a cool place!

I tried to use the word EXTREME a lot in this post, if you hadn’t noticed.

Also, when you drive by a geodesic blueberry in middle-of-nowhere Maine, stopping for pie is recommended.

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We’re battening down the hatches on the east coast (feel free to read that as stocking up on beer and poptarts), but I’ve got a few links for you.

1. There have been a few dead giant squid encounters recently, here’s a video of one near the Canaray Islands.

2. I confess to not being a huge fan of Florida, but I’d totally go if it meant I could go to the Shell Museum, which, by the way, is having a very cool amateur photography contest. I’d also go to Florida if it meant I could drink butterbeer at the Harry Potter theme park, or swim with some manatees, for what that’s worth.

3. The lake I grew up swimming in is being attacked by clams.

4. Dolphins use conch shells to catch fish! Super cool.

5. Have you seen the dancing snail video cresting its 15 minutes of internet fame? Clearly someone’s just blowing on the tentacles from off camera, but it’s still kind of cute.

6. Lollusk!

funny pictures - Reducing the drag, one inch at a time.

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So I’m back from Maui and fully recovered. I’ve gone through the grieving process that I’m not there any more. So now is the time to report on the mollusks that I saw.

The short version: I didn’t see much in the way of mollusks.

The longer version: I saw no terrestrial mollusks. The first day I was there my husband pointed out a crushed snail shell in a parking lot that was rather huge. I’m guessing that might have been something invasive, like a giant African land snail. It didn’t strike me as particularly photogenic at the time, so I don’t have a photo of that for you.

On the road to Hana, we stopped at Ke’anae Beach Park, a point with waves crashing onto lava rocks dramatically. The tide was out-ish, so there were some tidepools to inspect, much to my delight. A couple of little snail sightings happened then.

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Other than that, I spent a lot of time snorkeling, which was great. The only mollusk I saw while snorkeling was this cowrie at the Molokini Crater. Let me tell you, this thing was huge. I’d estimate along the long axis it was maybe 15cm. Definitely my best mollusk sighting of the week.

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That was it. I realize lots of the mollusks that live in Hawaii are pretty small, but I also didn’t see any seashells on any of the beaches I visited.

So here’s the weird thing: Why is there such a surfeit of seashell atrocities being sold in Hawaii when there seems to be a paucity of (visible) shells in actual nature? It’s like buying souvenirs from a place somebody else imagined. Sounds like an Italo Calvino short story to me.

My next post will be all of the non-mollusk nature I saw. I had much better luck on that front, as you’ll soon see!

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It’s that time again:

1. Did you see the incredibly gorgeous squid photography in this boingboing post? If not, please click the link immediatamente.

2. I first saw this video on Deep Sea News. Squideo!

3. io9 has a hilarious post about snails who migrate via avian digestive tract. That’s one way to do it, I guess.

4. I was in my local diving emporium yesterday and they had a very lovely marine life video playing while I was waiting for my stuff to arrive on the magical conveyor belt coming out of the wall. One of the featured animals was the hooded nudibranch. Watching the video, I was all, where are the nudibranchs? Are they under those jellies? Turns out they were those jellies.

Hooded Nudibranchs
(photo: Vlad Karpinsky)

5. Why was I at my local diving emporium? Because this weekend I’m headed out of town, to Maui! I will of course report back with all mollusk findings. I don’t know that I’ll get to see any, but Hawaii has very cool land snails, many of which are endemic. They also have invasive snails. I’ll tell you about what I see regardless. Wish me mollusk (and sea turtle) spotting luck!

6. Have I used this lollusk? I lose track. This one’s a classic anyway.

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Lots of good stuff came across my desk this week.

1. The Encyclopedia of Life has a podcast and their newest episode is about sea slugs. There’s also a recent one about giant squid.

2. Speaking of, giant squid in Florida! Gotta love local news.

3. A snail thought to be extinct isn’t.

4. Punxsutawney Phil he ain’t, but there’s a quahog that predicts how many days of beach weather Cape Cod will be getting this summer.

5. How mucous trails relate to snail mating habits.

6. Here’s a completely terrifying video of a snail eating a worm.

7. As a chaser, here’s a completely adorable video of a snail eating lettuce.

8. Wouldn’t be Friday link time without a lollusk!
funny pictures

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So last time I just focused on the chitons, but there were many other very cool creatures to be seen at Golden Gardens during the minus tide on Memorial Day.

One of the very first things we saw as we walked toward where the shore birds were swooping (including one bald eagle!) was a sunflower sea star. I’ve never seen one of these before in the wild, so it was clearly already a good day.

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Another thing we saw a lot of were sand collars from moon snails. I’d never seen one of these either, believe it or not. Moon snails are vicious predators, and in fact In one of my chiton photos there’s a moon snail victim in the frame. You can tell from the circular hole drilled into the shell by the moon snail’s radula.

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Another extremely common sight were clam siphons sticking up out of the sand. I don’t know what kind of clams they were–maybe butter clams?– but it was funny to see them shoot jets of water into the air every once in a while. There were enough of them on the beach that you didn’t have to wait more than a few seconds to see one in your periferal vision. Kind of like watching a meteor shower.

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The undersides of boulders are good places to find things. A bunch of ocher stars are clinging to this one here.

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Under this boulder were a bunch of sea cucumbers. I’ve seen sea cucumbers while snorkeling in Alaksa, but the guides dove down to retrieve them from the sea floor. These are the first ever sea cucumbers spotted by mine own eyes. Also a lovely anemone in the photo.

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This rock is just covered in anemones. In my mind, one anemone got some delusions of grandeur and just cloned the crap out of itself.

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There were also lots of barnacle-encrusted boulders. Here’s one with a passing train in the background.

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And to bring things back to mollusks, here’s a little snail clinging onto a boulder. It’s a funny sensation to touch a shell to see if it still has something alive inside and feel it grip onto the rock. This dude wasn’t going to budge.

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All in all, a very good outing. I have to keep an eye on the tides here in New York and check out what’s to be seen in my own neck of the woods. A goal of mine is to see a horseshoe crab, another of my favorite invertebrates, along the water under the Brooklyn Bridge.

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