Nature Blog Network

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fast Snails

Snails Go west ! Funny TimeLapse from on Vimeo.

Hat tip to Unique Daily.

“Every evening, after my automatic water system stops, all the snails who where hidden behind flowers go out and go on the grass to make parties, eating and drinking! They move from east to west!”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Invert vs. Vert 19: Belizean Arachnid edition

Just so you know, Belizean arachnids ain't messin around.

See the rest of the challenges!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A most awesome blog on Mites!

Its a morphology heaven!

Hat tip to Adrian T. via Mike H.

Flying Octopus

Monday needs some joviality! What would you do if you saw a giant octopus flying overhead?

I just hope it was all recovered and none ended up in the sea!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Linkalicious Sunday!

I have just a few moments of free time to post something up, so thought I would point everyone in the direction of some good invert posts from some of our friends form the past two weeks or so.

The Brine Queen highlights the first species of marine invertebrate protected under ESA as endangered - Haliotis sorenseni

Chris, of the Echinoblog, has two recent posts on my favorite echinoderms, the feather sea stars.

Rick MacPherson has a molluscan species ID request and brings us some good news – there is a strong coral conservation bill making it's way through the house. Of course the bill could always always use a little help by emailing/calling/writing your rep and letting them know that the bil is important to you.

KaylinQ pointed me to Pagan Wanderer Lu, who reveals what happened to the plans for a Bathynomus Giganteus CD - then uploads all 17 tracks for your free listening pleasure! If you like any of the songs, please contribute at least $12 (~ cost of a average CD) to the Marine Conservation Society, or another ocean conservation group of your choice.

Another wave of the tentacle to KaylinQ for exposing me to a brilliant new (well new too me) online comic with a recent panel featuring what happens when a cephalopod meets Descartes' Cogito, ergo sum.

Hoxful Monsters has news of a study in which sponges are the base of the metazoan tree not ctenophores and the nervous system evolved once. That suggests however that hox genes evolved multiple times or evolved once and were lost several times. It'll be interesting to see how this one sorts out.

Finally Christie pulls out the invert Ewwww! with the Loa Loa worm (a real must see!) and Miriam confounds invert cool with baby mammal cute with a Puppy that glows from cnidarian red fluorescent proteins.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Earthworm Day!

In case you didn't know, today has been declared International Earthworm Day!

Of course it's a great invert to choose for it's own day. Aside from Barnacles (we all know how wonderful they are) and evolution, nothing seemed to occupy Darwin's curiosity as much as earthworms. For over three decades he studied them, off and on, and wrote papers and books about them and their effects in the soil.

Unfortunately today is a chock-a-block, with end of semester work and a seminar tonight so I doubt I'll be able to put together anything new. But here a link to all our past earthworm ramblings here and of course...

Earthworm Porn by a true friend of the invertebrates Isabella Rossellini.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

La Princesse

La Princesse, part of Les Mécaniques Savants by La Machine, makes it's way through the streets of Yokohama. It is all part of celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Opening of the Port of Yokohama.

I would dearly love to see them marching down the streets of Mystic with the spider. Even better a shrimp or crab, or maybe, a deep sea isopod!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Insect Ecology Lecture

Just one of many lectures available at the new Pulse Project site. Looks like I can keep up with a weekly lecture series even when I am away from university!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nudibranchs, Coral and Math

A TED talk on one of my favorite invertebrate outreach projects out there. A favorite because it is viral, involves textiles and it's working! Thousands of participants have gotten involved in the project and come away with a far greater understanding of the issues facing our reefs.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


A brief departure from our normal programming to ask your support for one of our regular "friend of the inverts" Jeff Ives and the New England Aquarium.

The aquarium was recently listed as an historic building by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a fitting designation considering it was the world's first modern aquarium, with a unique and remarkable architecture. As Jeff points out, this designation puts the aquarium in the company of the Old North Church and Paul Revere's House. Environmental conservation meets cultural preservation!

More to the point though, it opens a new avenue of grants and financing to the Aquarium as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. There is currently a grant that will be awarded to one of the historic landmarks of Boston based on a vote. We get to chose which historic landmark in Boston gets the money. How original and refreshing! From today (17 April) to the 17th of May we can all vote once per day for the landmark we want to see get the grant.

So check out all the historic landmarks and cast your vote. Then cast a vote each day until May 17th. I hope you will agree with Jeff and vote for the aquarium. If the aquarium does get the grant, Jeff has promised a special surprise for Kevin and The Other 95% starring some of the New England Aquarium's most charismatic residents!

Friday Movie - Mussel Cam!

For all those who just can't get enough of their bivalves, especially of the Mytilidae, Flex Mussels has the perfect recipe for you, well the have lots of great recipes in their New York Restaurant, but online for your visual stimulation, they offer – MusselCam live from their Prince Edward Island location!

Gina, you were right about this one – part of why Ceph's are my favorite Molluscs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Red Abalone - Haliotis rufescens

Haliotis rufescens
Red abalone, originally uploaded by TVN.

The characteristic red abalone with its reddish shell, 3-4 open ports in the shell,black or black and cream epipodium, and black tentacles. This one is starting a new shell port and closing up the oldest still open one at the same time. You can see the even older ports which have been sealed with shell, spiraling back to the oldest part of the shell on the the left of the picture. The holes are used for respiration and sanitation. Yes, that means it poops and breathes through the same shell holes. It also releases eggs or sperm (abalone have separate sexes) to the water column during broadcast spawning sessions through the same holes. A great page on the general biology of abalone, including dissection, cleaning and cooking is available at

If you're eating abalone from the United States, the Red Abalone, Halioti rufescens is the one you're likely having. It's a good seafood choice too, since it comes from an aquaculture operation. Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program lists farmed abalone a Best Choice. There is very limited recreational fishing for H. rufescens in Northern California, and all commercial fisheries for abalone in the United States were closed in the 1990's, so it is the red abalone aquaculture operations of California and Mexico that are the core of the U.S. abalone market. That aquaculture (and fishery) interest is also a big driver for gaining more knowledge of the general biology, reproduction and larval success factors etc to improve culturing and aquaculture success as well as wild stock conservation.

As a kid I spent a lot of time just North of Santa Barbara, California. One of my favorite things to do, naturally enough, was to head to the beach. Especially the rocky coast just north of the Pt. Conception lighthouse where we would examine the tide pools and sometimes, when in season, pick abalone for dinner as a treat. I have to admit I love eating abalone.

We would take a 9+ inch (~230mm) abalone from time to time, though the norm was more around 8-9 inches (200-230mm). Turns out that is quite a catch by today's standard when wild picked (shore accessible), as I understand it, average only just over 7 inches (175mm), which is also the minimum catch size. You might think that a one inch difference in size is not that big a change for 30+ years, but it can represent a dramatic age difference in the animal.

Shell length (mm) by age (years) for Haliotis rufescens based on data from

After making it through two lecithotrophic (yolk absorbing) larval stages, juveniles settle and begin feeding on diatoms and other microflora on benthic surfaces. After six months they will be between 1/4 and 1/2 inches across (at the widest point) and transition to begin feeding more on macroalgae. By three years old they are 2 inches across or more. At 5 years old they will have attained a 4 inch shell, the size that farm raised abalone are generally taken at.

By the time the abalone are 6" long they are 9 years old and females are reaching peak fecundity. To reach the 7" recreational fisheries limit requires another 3 years of growth. The next inch of growth requires another 6 years of healthy growing. Those 9 and 10" beauties we caught many years ago would have been 25 to 30 years old!

Trivia Note: It was the white abalone, that has the distinctly unenviable honor of becoming the first marine invertebrate to be listed as endangered under ESA.

Deep Fried Shrimp!

Kevin gets published!

After a three year gestation period, Kevin, and co-author Stephane Hourdez' 20 page paper "A new species of Alvinocaris (Crustacea: Decapoda: Caridea: Alvinocarididae) from hydrothermal vents at the Lau Basin, southwest Pacific, and a key to the species of Alvinocarididae." is out in the wild!

In it they describe a bigger, oranger species of alvinocaridid, Alvinocaris komaii, discovered in the Lau Basin of the South Pacific. I always love species description papers and this one does not fail to delight with wonderful holotype illustrations including details of the distinctive telson and dactyli of some of the pereopods . They also discuss the new species place in the whole Alvinocaris genus, and oh yes, a dichotomous key of all known species of Alvinocarididae!

I'm really impressed with the paper and with species description, molecular evidence and dichotomous key it is very complete! Awesome job.

So, I take it A. komaii was named for Tomoyuki Komai of Natural History Museum and Institute in Japan?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lophozozymus incisus

There are beautiful crustaceans and then there is Lophozozymus incisus!
What a beauty! And well captured by Artour_a. But not one you would want to eat as there are reports of them having tetrodotoxin. From Society, French Polynesia

Tsai et al. (2006) Tetrodotoxin in several species of xanthid crabs in southern Taiwan. Food Chemistry. vol. 95 (2) pp. 205-212

Monday, April 13, 2009

Octopus meets Steampunk!!

What if Captain Nemo's ship had been a squid or an octopus?

Ok, I have an admission to make, I love tech but also love nature, and I disparately miss the high craftsmanship (or at least the impression of it) of days gone by - yes I am often drawn to the world of steampunk design. So what happens when steampunk meets one of my favorite inverts - the octopus? Well one artists take on that marriage is that of digital illustrator and concept artist Alex Broeckel. He recently completed a beautiful rendering of his interpretation for a contest at CGTalk, one of my favorite haunts from my former life, which I obviously need to start spending more time at again..

Of course what I really like is watching the image evolve and develop in the CGTalk forums. I always love peeking over the shoulder of a creative person, seeing their creative and thinking processes develop as an idea or piece of art takes shape.

via: Matt's Marine Music Medley

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Octopus Ballet

2005 off the Oregon Coast, the Octopus Ballet debuted as part of the Visions'05 expedition, featuring the ever graceful Grimpoteuthis bathynectes

TweetTip from Kaylin-Quinn

Friday, April 10, 2009

My kind of Easter Egg

Finally an Easter egg I can REALLY get into - an Easter Egg Tree of Life!

Of course the Cephalopod is my favorite, but....they have a series of six ocean eggs.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Egg Hunt!!!

Rick MacPherson has just announced the "The 2nd, Maybe-Annual, MBSL&S Spring Ocean Egg Hunt" over at Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice & Sunsets. 15 marine eggs and egg cases for you to identify and win a copy of his excellent book Reef.

Last years event was a blast! And this year he is promising a few "surprises" in addition to the main prize!

Not familiar with he book Reef yet? Check out Kevin's spot on review.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Now that's a worm

Ok, there are bigger ones out there, but "Barry" was living in a marine aquarium at Newquay's Blue Reef Aquarium in Cornwall, England. Unknown to the aquarists and visitors Barry sneaked in, probably with a shipment of "live rock" (I really don't like that misnomer) a common invasion vector for bristle worms, and ruled the roost as it were, growing to a remarkable 4 feet long. Barry fed on the corals and fish of it's aquarium. After being coralled by aquarists, Barry now has his own tank at the aquarium where everyone can revel in the beauty of marine polychaetes!

The original Daily Mail posting stoops to the, unfortunately too familiar, derogatory epithet of "Monster". They also point out repeatedly that the bristles can be quite a pain and even cause numbness if you get a little too personal with them. I guess it's fortunate that they didn't comment on the hyper cool, but horror movie inspiring, evertable pharynx and the jaws which look awfully like giant fangs.

Personally I would love to see Barry firsthand.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Podcast of the Blue

Catch our host Kevin on the excellent new Podcast of the Blue, a brilliant extension of the Carnival of the Blue. The podcast is the creative offspring of Rick MacPherson and Jason Robertshaw.

The podcast should also soon be available on iTunes.