Thursday, May 26, 2016

Nudibranch Central

It’s been a busy month at Haystack Rock. Many of the birds that nest on Haystack Rock have returned. The common murres are back in abundance as are the western gulls, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, and, of course, the tufted puffins. The black oystercatchers have been working on establishing a nest in the rocky area of the saddle


There have also been a lot of nudibranchs found in the Needles, the rocky areas just to the south of Haystack Rock. Nudibranchs are a group of soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusks that shed their shells after their larval stage. They are known for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms. Currently, about 2,300 valid species of nudibranchs are known. 

In this photo you will find four species of nudibranch.  Can you find them all? The four species represent three major nudibranch types: Dorid (red sponge nudibranch), Dendrontid (Dendronotus frondosus), and Aeolid (opalescent nudibranch and shaggy mouse nudibranch).

Four species of nudibranch
Photo courtesy of Steve Grace
The red sponge nudibranch is probably the easiest to spot in the picture.
Red sponge nudibranch

The opalescent nudibranch should also be easy to spot toward the bottom of the picture. 


Also found this month were a janolus nudibranch shown here and a rufus tipped nudibranch.
Janolus nudibranch