Oyster Blog — Tideflat Critters

July 17, 2008: Teensy Crab, Big Attitude.

Tideflat Critters

The tideflats are covered with miniature crab. They skitter around the beach, hide under oyster clusters at low tide, and go into attack mode when they sense someone overhead. But they can also be kinda cuddly:     Some of the teensy crabs have huge, Popeye-on-spinach forearms. There are probably several different species of shore crabs, as they're called, but the most common, both on the beach and on the internet, are Purple Shore Crabs.  

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July 15, 2008: Crab Cannibalism

Store News Tideflat Critters

     

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July 7, 2008: Sea Urchins

Tideflat Critters

Sea urchins are echinoderms, and are related to sea cucumbers and sea stars. They're covered in protective spines, use tube feet for locomotion, and normally feed on algae. Sea urchin gonads, known more appetizingly as uni, are a popular food in Japan. The little urchin above lived up to its name by stabbing Oyster Fan underneath her thumbnail, leaving a shard of its spine lodged in her cuticle. Cute. Technically, this urchin is a Stronglyocentrotus droebachiensis. But if that was too much gobbly-gook for you, just call it a green urchin. Below: a close up photo of a sea urchin...

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June 30, 2008: Mr. Toadfish

Tideflat Critters

Humming toadfish are also known as plainfish midshipmen, California canary fish, or bullheads. The fish are nocturnal, and bury themselves in sand during the day, unless they're manhandled for a photograph. During mating season, male toadfish contract their swim bladder muscles to produce a low, humming sound. Female toadfish, in turn, develop increased acoustic sensitivity during the mating season, and are attracted by the humming sound. The toadfish hum can last for up to an hour, and is loud enough to be heard by oyster pickers and other humans. Midshipman fish also have light-producing photophores, which they use to attract...

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May 22, 2008: Barnacles

Tideflat Critters

Hood Canal has had a tremendous barnacle set this year. The little guys are everywhere! Barnacles attach head first to rocks, shells, pilings, boats, buoys, etc. When the tide is in, their feathery legs, called cirri, sweep through the water for phytoplankton. Although they look like mollusks, barnacles are actually crustaceans, like shrimp and crab. They spend their infancy as free-swimmers and molt several times during their lives, which is why you occasionally find free-floating barnacle drifting through the water. When they're safely in their home they're very sharp, and count as the number one reason why you should always...

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