Sea Life

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Beach Walk on the big screen and jellies in the water

May 23rd, 2012 by Jeff Adams

Beach Walk DVD front and back covers. By: Robyn Ricks, Washington Sea Grant

In recognition Puget Sound Starts Here Month, Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido is sponsoring a showing of Beach Walk: A Naturalist’s Review at the Dragonfly Cinema (822 Bay Street, Port Orchard) on Thursday, May 24th at 6:30. As an added bonus, we’ll be exploring the Port of Bremerton’s Port Orchard Marina‘s sea life immediately after. As part of the Sustainable Cinema Series, this showing is offered free of charge, and donations are gratefully accepted.

Beach Walk was produced by Nancy Sefton of Unicorn Studios with participation by Washington Sea Grant and WSU Kitsap Extension. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to narrate and poke my head onto the screen a few times. It’s original intent was to be a refresher video for volunteer beach naturalists before they participate in a beach exploration with the public. However, the 35 minute film has appealed to a much broader audience, giving a flavor of the seaweeds and animals you can find on Puget Sound beaches when the tide is out.

You can preview or watch the film on YouTube in 3 parts.

  • Part 1 – 5 min, introduction and best beach behavior
  • Part 2 – 15 min, sea life of cobble/boulder beaches
  • Part 3 – 14 min, sand/mud beach life and things you can do anywhere in the watershed that protect marine habitats

After the film and a brief discussion, we’re going to head across the street to the public entrance of the Port Orchard Marina. I hadn’t been to the marina before, so I checked it out last week and found lots of sea life treasures.

In particular, I was struck by the jellies, finding about a dozen species. Many people have seen the moon jellies and even the large, red lions mane or yellow fried egg jellies. But look closely and the sea is alive with a variety of these predatory, floating, gelatinous anemone cousins.

The compilation below shows several species. From left to right, top to bottom…

  • aggregating jelly (Eutonina indicans) with it’s dangling mouth.
  • gregarious jelly (Clytia gregarium) is very similar to the aggregating. These can be so abundant the water surface is writhing with them. They also make a good meal for larger jellies.
  • eight-strand jelly (Melicertum octocostatum) has 8 large sex organs around its body. It’s a weak swimmer. Trade off for reproductive prowess?
  • red-eyed jelly (Polyorchis penicillatus) has tiny, light sensitive red spots where the tentacles meet the body. The spots help it figure out which way is up in the water.
  • sea gooseberry (Pleurobrachia bachei) has two feeding tentacles that can stretch to 8x the length of its body. Since it’s a ctenophore and not technically a jelly, it has 8 rows of tiny comb plates that wave to help it swim. In the sunlight, they make a beautiful pulsating rainbow.
  • many-ribbed jelly (Aequorea sp.) looks like a bicycle wheel. Can we rename it spoke jelly?

Opalescent nudibranch taking a slime across my hand. Photo: Jeff Adams

I also encountered several gorgeous opalescent nudibranchs (sea slugs), one of which was floating bottom up on the water’s surface (maybe looking for a new home?). I gave it a perch on my hand before putting it on the dock next to a small anemone (sorry anemone). They eat hydroids, little coral-like creatures, but may nibble the occasional anemone or sea squirt.

We may see these creatures at the Port Orchard Marina after the show, and we will certainly see others…. rain or shine. Hope to see you there. Be sure to dress for the weather and enjoy spring!

Jeff Adams is a Washington Sea Grant Marine Water Quality Specialist, affiliated with the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and based in Bremerton. You can follow his Sea Life blog, SalishSeaLife tweets, FaceBook and video posts, send email to jaws@uw.edu or call at 360-337-4619.

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