Greenling Eggs

In the fall we frequently see small clutches of fish eggs.  We typically see them laid inside empty giant barnacle shells, and sometimes even in the holes in the bricks we use in our clod card work.This egg mass is different for two reasons.  First, it’s not laid inside any protective shell or brick, and second, the developing fish can be seen inside their eggs – usually the eggs we see are either opaque or don’t have any clear differentiation inside them.

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If you look close you can see eyes and even the coiled body of the embryos.

We think these are the eggs of a greenling, mostly because they don’t look like lingcod or red irish lord egg masses.  If they are greenling, they’re likely kelp greenling, the most common species of greenling.

Greenling are relatives of lingcod (note the “ling”).  However, greenling don’t get nearly as large as lingcod, and are much more active.  Greenling are commonly seen by divers, and even seem to follow us around on our dives.  Here are some photos of adults (not my photos):

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This is a female.  Key characteristics to look for: gold fins and lots of small dark spots on a light background.

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This is a male.  Note the blue-grey fins and few large light spots concentrated near the head on a dark background.

I remember the two genders with the color of their fins: boys are blue and girls are gold.

Last Transect Complete!

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Tim Dwyer and me through the camera framer, just after finishing the last transect dive of 2012

After a long autumn quarter, we finally finished our annual fall surveys.  This enormous body of work (95 transects in about 75 dives) could not have been accomplished without the help of a small army of volunteers and interns.

Thanks to Annie Thomson, Aaron Galloway, Derek Smith, Noel Larson, Rhoda Green, Autumn Turner, Gavin Brackett, Ryan McLaughlin, Ryan Knowles, Jackie O’Mara, Megan Cook, Pema Kitaeff and Alex Lowe.

And thanks especially to Tim Dwyer, inexhaustible dive buddy extraordinaire.

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That’s our planning whiteboard.  All those purple boxes are transects that needed doing, and the green text are the dates we completed the transects.  They’re finally all full – whew!

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Tim and me collapsed under the weight of all the equipment it takes to get the science done.

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My face seconds after finishing the last transect.

Sunset Diving

Derek Smith and I finished up a transect dive at Shady Cove just as the sun set over Friday Harbor.  Derek snapped this photo with our photoquadrat camera setup.

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This is definitely one of the benefits of trying to dive every available slack between October and January every year!

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Split Arms

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This Pisaster brevispinus has a pretty dramatic split arm.  I wonder how they control the regrowth of limbs to reach the same length as the others.  This photo is from Neck Point in October 2010.

Seastars can drop their arms if they feel threatened, a process called autotomy (“self-sever”), and regrow the arm later on.  But sometimes things go screwy and they don’t regrow quite right.  Seeing six arms on a star that should have only 5 is fairly common.  These photos are from one of the more unique examples I’ve encountered.

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Can you see the little nub on the Pycnopodia helianthoides arm?

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And yes, there are tube feet on the bottom, just like any proper seastar arm.

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Pycnopodia helianthoides is my favorite example to use when students complain about having to learn the scientific names for organisms.  As long as the describer didn’t name the organism after a person or a place, the scientific name can be very descriptive.  “Dense-feet sun-flower-ish” is a very accurate description of this star.