Thursday, April 7, 2016

Community Critter Dive

Exotic Aquatics, a Bainbridge Island business that teaches SCUBA diving and kayaking, and Islandwood, an environmental education nonprofit, team up annually for the Community Critter Dive. Volunteer divers go into the Puget Sound to bring up some of the astonishing creatures they find. They carefully put the animals in kiddie pools on the shore, allow visitors to admire them, and then return the animals to the water.  Islandwood volunteers tell visitors all about the animals the divers find. It's pure magic!

We went once before, and this year the animals were quite different. There were lots of nudibranchs (sea slugs) because it was breeding season.  They even brought up some nudibranch eggs. They told us rays used to have a spot they favored as a nursery where rays have died out. They were pleased to find a little ray, so it could be that their population is rebounding.  Moon snails were also in a romantic mood, and they brought up many, along with their bizarre egg cases which looked like curved strips of grey rubber.  Other cool finds were a sea pen, actually colonies of tiny individuals that together resemble a large orange feather; a tiny, lively fish called the "spiny lumpsucker"; and a sea angel, a tiny, transparent relative of the snail whose foot developed into two "wings".
Moon snail.
Shore crab.
Striped nudibranch.
Shore crab.
Nudibranch eggs.
Diamondback nudibranch.
Shore crab.
Moon snail.
Ray.
Sculpin.
Crane fly larva found on the shore.
Spiny lumpsucker on moon snail eggs.
Anemone.
Anemone.
Shrimp.
Kelp crab and moon snail.
Sea pen.
Striped nudibranch.
Striped nudibranchs and anemone.
Diamondback nudibranch.
Hermit crab.
Striped nudibranch.
Sea pen.
Shore crab.
Common mergansers.
Diamondback nudibranchs and nudibranch eggs.
Moon snail eggs.
Nudibranch eggs.
Kelp crab.
This sea star was found crunching a crab.
Sea pen.
Sea angel.
Sea angel.
Sea angel.

No comments: