Oyster Blog — Tideflat Critters

July 24, 2008: Ghost Shrimp

Tideflat Critters

Ghost shrimp are supposed to be white, but the ones we find are normally pinkish. They still live up to their name, though, by being super wily and rarely seen. The tiny shrimp burrow through the sand in search of plankton and detritus. Here's the little bugger above in action:   And here's a better photo of a ghost shrimp. Since the 1960s oyster farmers on the coast (definitely not us!) have applied the pesticide Carbaryl to their beaches to control ghost shrimp populations. But the pesticide also is toxic to juvenile salmon and Dungeness crab, among other aquatic species....

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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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