In spite of our heat and smoky skies, the change in light is signaling that autumn is not much farther ahead of us. As we wind down and get ready to shift gears into the next season, I am taking some time to look back at some of my favorite moments from June-August. There are so many, I needed to break it down into digestible bits and pieces.
I had a great summer of Nudibranch spotting both in Seattle and on my trips to Oregon, the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Island. If you are unfamiliar with these wonderful marine invertebrates, settle in and get comfortable! Nudibranchs (pronounced nudi-BRANK) are sea slugs. They are relatives of clams, snails, octopuses and terrestrial slugs & snails too. True nudibranchs wear their breathing stuff on the outside of their bodies. Sometimes these "gills" take the form of a flowery gill plume at the rear, other times they look like flexible leaves or feathers, sticking up all over the body. They crawl along on their big soft foot, and sometimes they swim or do a happy dance. Some eat plankton, some eat hydroids, some eat bryozoans, some eat sponge and some eat each other. They can be tiny like a grain of rice or as big as a football. Here are some of my favorites nudibranchs from the summer-
Dendrontus venustus, the Bushy Backed nudibranch. Spotted at Constellation Beach in West Seattle early on in the summer.
Hooded nudibranchs (Melibe leonina) were a highlight of my summer. I had been hoping to see one in the wild for years and this year I had the pleasure of seeing them twice. The first time was on my birthday in the San Juan Islands. Several large ones, about 4" in length, were swept into our cove with the tide. They were gorgeous and happily feeding on the abundance of copepods in the water.
The second sighting was at Seahurst Beach, just south of downtown Seattle. They were massing here, an event that also happened a few years ago. They were much smaller than the San Juan giants, most only an inch or two in length. They had the most beautiful speckles and dots that were absent on the larger ones. I took a bazillion photos, so here are some of my favorites-