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

Post by Jan K » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:06 am

What a glorious weather. After days, weeks of dreary, drizzly weather, Sunday broke into a beautiful sunny, calm day. So it was not a surprise that so many divers descended on Whidbey Island's popular dive site - Keystone Underwater Park.
One of the highlights in the park these days are the large schools of Striped perch. I don't recall seeing this many of them here before ...
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:40 am

If you had the feeling that you are being watched while diving the end of Keystone Jetty, you were right. :)
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:10 pm

Every dive is a memory. Critters big and small are part of my every dive. Don't be surprised when aim my camera at you if you happen to swim by. For not only the critters, but all divers, friends and strangers, are also part of that experience, part of that memory ...
And when they are fellow NWDC member, it is even better :)
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Tom Nic
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Tom Nic » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:11 pm

Boy, that crab has amazing form and trim!
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:00 am

After sunny weekend, get ready for some rain. The Umbrella crab is :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:25 pm

The Lingcod laying big egg masses at Keystone Jetty. Three nests found on January 15, 2018.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:24 am

Deception Pass, first visit in 2018. The good news - I found one healthy Sunflower star there,
last time I saw one in the Pass was back in October 2015 ! :)
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:23 am

As if the Sea Star Wasting Disease wasn't bad enough, I find a something equally scary happening to Orange Finger Sponges at Deception Pass. Over 40% of them are showing signs of some kind of disease. Instead of their normal yellowish color, they turn gray and then disintegrate completely. Since they are not found anywhere else around Whidbey Island where I dive, I don't know if it is a local mortality event, or if it is happening elsewhere too.
I would appreciate input from others...
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fmerkel
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by fmerkel » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:35 am

Any idea of the growth rate of those sponges?
Thank you for pointing out this change.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:34 am

fmerkel wrote:Any idea of the growth rate of those sponges?

No Fritz, I don't know, maybe somebody will chime in ...

If there is over abundance of a marine critter in Whidbey waters, (besides the Green sea urchins), it is the Wrinkled dogwinkle.
As every winter, they congregate in large numbers and propagate. And obviously, they are pretty successful at it :)
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YellowEye
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by YellowEye » Sun Jan 21, 2018 11:59 am

Jan, it's very sad to hear about those sponges. A lot of organisms are suffering these days. I see a lot of wilting and very sad plumose these days, especially down south... Do you know if that is being tracked as well?

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Jan 21, 2018 7:27 pm

Yes, it is sad. I hope it is only a temporary setback. I got to pay more attention to anemones. I did not notice any changes yet. Sometimes it is hard to tell since they do deflate completely at times.

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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by YellowEye » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:39 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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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:25 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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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:43 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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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:14 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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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:37 pm

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

Post by Vjw » Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:46 pm

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

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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:55 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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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:23 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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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:58 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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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by ScubaJess » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:24 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!
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:59 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

Post by Jan K » Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:35 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

Post by Jan K » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:16 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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