Whidbey Island Critters

Fish & Invertebrate sightings and descriptions, hosted by resident NWDC ID expert Janna Nichols (nwscubamom).
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:48 am

Hell Bells of El Zapote cenote was the main reason I returned to Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Somehow we missed it on our trip back in November, so when Maya told me that she will be attending the World Ocean Summit in Cancun, the Alaska Airlines voucher we got on last trip to Mexico became yet another reason why I just had to see the incredible underwater formations of El Zapote. Also the University of Heidelberg in Germany just published paper of their extensive work on the unique speleothems shining some light on the mysterious structures. And it did not disappoint. With the help of very capable guide of Dirk Penzel of Cenote-Diving.com, Maya and I had a fantastic experience diving along these amazing bells.
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oldsalt
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby oldsalt » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:13 pm

This shows that field identification of so many organisms just isn't possible. In this case, it required microscopic examination by an expert. It reminds me of a time when I had been diagnosed with a tapeworm. My physician narrowed it down to a few. We were going through the books together trying to find a match. For one species it read; "This can only be identified by an autopsy." I didn't have that one. Good work Jan.
-Curt
Happy to be alive.

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Wed Feb 21, 2018 4:08 pm

I would like to give a big THANK YOU to the people who devote their time and talents to taxonomy. I just had an interesting experience involving sponge from Deception Pass. For many years I called it erroneously Glove Sponge (Neoesperiopsis digitata). Then last year it was brought to my attention that it might be Orange Finger Sponge ( Isodictya rigida). Sponges are notoriously difficult to identify. Colors, shapes and textures are not much help to correctly ID them. So when I collected specimen in order to start seeking an answer to why so many of them are dying, I received offer to correctly identify the Finger sponge of Deception Pass. Well, it was an educational journey, from tracing the origins of the sponge in 1893 to February 2018 when the microscopic examination revealed that it is Tan Finger Sponge - Isodictya quatsinoensis. Thank you, Bruce Ott :)
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oldsalt
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby oldsalt » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:44 am

Is it plant, animal, or something else? :questionmarks:
Curt
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:52 pm

Any ideas what it is ? Never seen that before.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:47 pm

Skyline Wall - February silt. The river runoff affecting Whidbey dive sites extend up to Fidalgo Island.
Candy shrimp is always a welcome sight. One Crimson anemone body white, the other orange.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:39 pm

When Northern Kelp Crabs get tired of the kelp diet... :)
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:46 pm

Alex,The path towards the search for the wasting of the Finger sponge is tied to the Sea Star Wasting Disease. The University of British Columbia was looking for a wasting sea stars, sending inquire to Friday Harbor Lab. They referred it to Cornell and they told them about me. By now it was harder to find a wasting stars, but I keep coming across some on my dives. So I agreed to look for them, they had to be live specimen, not preserved. UBC traveled to Whidbey, I managed to find one at Coupeville and during the conversation I mentioned the calamity of Finger sponges in the Pass, and they told me they will try to see if they can help. The rest is history. No problem to find sick sponge in Deception Pass, again a live specimen was collected and now I am waiting if some answer will be found...
I attached the discovery of Thraustochytrids in the wasting Ochraeus star. This is NOT related to the sponges.
I have to admit it is a bit over my head, by I enjoy taking part in the search for the culprits :)

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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Tidepool Geek » Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:25 am

Hi Jan,

I'm looking forward to what you learn on this.
I'd also be interested in how the study itself came to be. Did you reach out to UBC about the disease or were they already working on it?

Contagiously yours,
Alex

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:23 am

Collecting sponge for UBC, these specimen to be kept alive, no freezer, no alcohol. Hopefully the reason for the wasting of these Deception Pass sponges will be found. From the quick observation on my last dive in bad visibility - the die off slowed down...
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:11 pm

Deception Pass, February 9. Visibility is pretty bad lately in all the waters around Whidbey Island. The fish eye lens makes look better than it really is. I blame the recent rains and river floods. Checking on the sea stars and Orange finger sponges, from what I could tell by the limited visibility, the sponges did not accelerate their wasting and not one star found sick.
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Vjw
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Vjw » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:15 pm

Beautiful photos and sound advice!

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:16 pm

So I asked the marine critters how they feel about the stock marked going up and going down in such wild gyrations. All agreed that they go through the same, depending on the moon cycle. If it is full or new moon, the tides go crazy. Way up and way down. Time to be careful how you plan your dive. And when the first and third quarter moon shine, enjoy diving, even the current sensitive areas. Sounds like a good advice :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:35 am

Keystone Jetty, February 4.
Crime scene - Severed Lingcod head. No fishing zone, no fishing season, no body.
Meanwhile - gang of Bering hermit crabs and one Painted anemone trying to eat the evidence...
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:59 pm

Wrinkled dogwinkle snails. Progress at the end of Keystone jetty rocks.
The eggs are now showing up, some of the snail returning to "normal " life :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby ScubaJess » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:24 am

Hi Jan,
Sorry about your camera. I'm glad you are safe! I can come help look for it next weekend:)

Fantastic pics as always. Always nice to see the next generation of fish!!! :-)

Have a good day!
Live Long And Prosper!!!

Stay Warm underwater with the Weezle Extreme Plus undergarment! Please let me know if you would like to order one or have any questions. :luv: :partydance: :eric: :taco:

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:58 am

It had to happen. :(
On my last dive at Keystone, my back-up Olympus TG-4 camera in Olympus housing decided to part with me in the moment when a ships wake hit as I was putting my first fin on. I had to take care of the more expensive camera and had to hope to find the small point & shoot. I did not find since the visibility went south too. Searching in vain, so if you find it, I certainly would appreciate if you to let me know...
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:23 pm

And the search for answers in the Sea Star Wasting Disease continues. Saturday morning on the Coupeville Wharf dock.
It took me over 30 minutes to find, among the hundreds of healthy sea stars one wasting arm...
"There is evidence to suggest that the primary pathogen of symptomatic sea stars is not eukaryotic or bacterial, but rather a densovirus (Hewson et al. 2014). Nevertheless, unanswered questions remain as to what has allowed a virus that has been present for over 70 years, and is also found in healthy animals, to presumably become lethal."
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:55 pm

Vjw wrote:Where do the specimens go for evaluation? Can you let us know the results?

I will keep you posted, work in progress ...


Few more snaps from Friday dive at Deception Pass. Among the dying sponge, also new ones growing up. GO nature, GO!!! :)
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Vjw
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Vjw » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:46 am

Where do the specimens go for evaluation? Can you let us know the results?

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Sun Jan 28, 2018 9:37 pm

Trying to solve the mystery why so many Orange Finger Sponges are dying at Deception Pass... :(
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:14 am

Langley Harbor. Lots of baby stars and one Buffalo sculpin which I took picture of on January 6th has now cluster of eggs to take care of.
Sea Star Wasting slowed down noticeably.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:43 am

January sea star surveys from around Whidbey Island. Signs of recovery, more Sunflower stars and lots of baby stars.
But wasting disease is still present in some locations: Coupeville, Langley and Keystone.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby Jan K » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:25 am

YellowEye wrote:Here's a snap of a drooping plumose :(
They also sometimes stamd upright but appear to have tight plumage, where they're curled up more than normal... less frilly

It definitely doesn't look healthy :(

Few more pictures from Driftwood Park. Before the current windy period arrived.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Postby YellowEye » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:39 pm

Here's a snap of a drooping plumose :(
They also sometimes stamd upright but appear to have tight plumage, where they're curled up more than normal... less frilly
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