Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What's in Your Tide Pool?

A glimpse of the life in one of the tide pools in Laguna Beach.

The Striped Shore Crab (Pachygrapsus crassipes) is locally abundant in the tide pools and lives at the edge of the tidal zone. It lives off of the film of algae and diatoms on the rocks as well as various detritus and carion.

Black Turban Snail (Tegula funebralis) (shown on the lower left) also lives in the tidal zone and is found all up and down the Pacific coast of North America. This snail is an algae eater.

Nassarius species (lower right, upper left). I'm not sure of the ID of this species. I suspect it is a Nassarius of some sort and is a carnivore, boring into the shells of other shoreline gastropods for a quick meal.

Green Surf Anemone (Anthopleura xantogrammica) (center). The green color arises from symbiotic photosynthetic algae that provide nutrients to the anemone. The anemone also uses stinging cells called nematocysts to paralyze larger prey such as snall crabs or fish. The anemones are themselves preyed upon by sea stars and nudibranchs.

Keyhole limpet (Fissurella species?): Upper left. These little molluscs rasp the rock for algae.

There were many other things in that little pool, some in view, some cropped out. The amazing thing is that most people will walk by and never notice any of the tremendous diversity in these tiny little pools. A few will stop and see some of it. A very few will stare long enough to notice that there are more things in those pools than you and I can ID in a quick blog. Fun or just a little nerdy? You could, after all, lie on the sand with the other 95% of the people with much less effort! Hmmm...?

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