Whidbey Island Critters

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

Post by oldsalt » Fri Mar 05, 2021 11:27 am

Jan: I would occasionally find clingfish while tide pooling, but I don't recall seeing one while diving.. Good spot.
-Curt :rawlings:
Happy to be alive.

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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:19 pm

Keystone Jetty, March 2nd.
Wireweed keeps growing, schools Striped seaperch and rockfish still present. Lingcod eggs not yet found ...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:28 pm

Forgot to include couple Keystone crabs... :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:32 am

Deception Pass dive. March 7th.
The weather forecast was not that encouraging, but the entry point to the pass is protected from southerly winds by the landmass of Whidbey Island. No wasting disease observed on sea stars, still no sign of Sunflower stars. The tide on the Little North Beach was unusually high, the spot where I normally gear up was underwater. Even Cranberry Lake had a really high water level, flooding part of the recreational area.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Mar 10, 2021 7:21 am

Skyline March 6th.
One of these days. After I turned on my macro camera, message appeared on the screen : WRITE PROTECT. Somehow during the assembly I moved the little piece on the SD memory card. So it was wide angle with some zoom in shots for this dive. At least I had the right lens for encounter with Lingcod guarding egg nest. I am glad I find two nests, for it is a dismal situation elsewhere I dive. So far none in Keystone, Deception Pass, Langley.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Mar 12, 2021 7:17 am

Langley Harbor, March 8th.
The visibility is still clouded by silt, the rockfish are hiding somewhere, I saw only three Copper in the one hour I spent doing the sea star survey. Not one Pycnopodia, the overall number of sea star species is way down. Except for the Leather stars, all three other species presented in the harbor, Pink, Ochre and Mottled, all had at least one individual affected by the wasting disease. The volunteers removed eleven lost crab traps on February 27 from the tire reef, great job. I found still plenty away from the reef, they could not find due to bad visibility. The only bright spot of the dive were the Giant Plumose anemones.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Mar 13, 2021 5:10 pm

Keystone Jetty, March 13th.
I don't think we can blame sea urchins for this. In last three days, after I did my safety stop at the end of the dive, I swam around the shallows among the increasingly taller Japanese wireweed in search for the new generation of Bull Kelp. I checked phots from year ago, in the same area we already had quite large number of Bull kelp growing. I did not find a single blade of Bull Kelp. There is some old Stalked kelp providing place to hang out for female Northern Kelp crabs, but I am worried. It will not be the same Keystone without patch of Bull kelp forest. Even if it is often bothersome when trying to swim through it on low tide. :(
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:39 pm

Keystone Jetty, March 10th. Four days of diving the jetty, did not have time to sort it all out yet. Daylight Saving Time change make you feel crabby? Here are some crabs from Wednesday dive when the weather was nicer too...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by coldfinger » Mon Mar 15, 2021 2:26 pm

Many thanks, Jan. I learn so much from your posts and love your photos and cartoons.

It will really be said if the bull kelp does not come back to Keystone. I thought folks might be interested/saddened in this recent Smithsonian article on this massive die-off of California kelp forests, attributable to loss of sunflower stars allowing urchin overpopulation. And, as it turns out, starving urchins being unappealing to sea otters, even if they won't die. But I guess our Keystone loss is likely from climate change and not urchins? (And we could have told the Californians that sunflower stars were a Keystone species...)

Oops.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-ne ... 180977214/

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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Mar 16, 2021 5:00 pm

Coldfinger, I am glad you enjoy my postings. Lets hope the Bull Kelp will return...

Keystone March 11th. The jetty diving under the calm seas continue. Except the visibility got somewhat compromised for while by the wake from passing cargo ship.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:04 am

Keystone Jetty, March 12th. Yes, it is the weather - another jetty dive, more stuff to look at.
Nice surprise was to find a large, healthy Sunflower star.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Thu Mar 18, 2021 8:46 am

Keystone Jetty March 13th. Saturday's beautiful weather brought a great number of divers to enjoy what jetty has to offer. I had the pleasure to meet some of them underwater.
Some I recognize, most I don't, for we all look kind of alike in our mostly dark colored gear ... :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Mar 19, 2021 7:10 am

Reproduction time at the jetty. The Scalyhead sculpins are very busy this time of the year, the empty Giant barnacle shells are very desirable place for the colorful males. They try to convince females to come inside and start a family. Or two :)
Nudibranchs have it a little easier, being both, male and female by design ...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:05 am

Keystone Jetty March madness continues :).
After a windy Sunday cancelled diving there, Monday the 15th was gorgeous again, the seas calm and the sun shining.
The highlight of the dive was finding a tiny slug feeding on Coarse Sea fern. The colors did not fit any of the nudies in my books. After contacting friendly slug experts, the consensus is that critter in the pictures is probably a juvenile White dendronotid (Dendronotus albus). But like so many things these days, without checking specimen DNA, microscope exam and all that, nobody is ever 100% sure. Meanwhile, that little nudi keeps munching on the hydroid, not bothered a bit about correct taxonomy ... :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:01 pm

Tuesday, March 16, 2021. I had the jetty all to myself on yet another calm, sunny day.
Last Saturday, Tabitha snapped picture of me so I don't have to rely on selfie for today's post. Thank you T. :)
Finding the healthy Sunflower star at the end of jetty was nice.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Mon Mar 22, 2021 2:58 pm

Keystone Jetty March 15 & 16.
Lots of Red Sea Cucumbers spawning.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Mar 23, 2021 1:53 pm

Keystone Jetty, March 16.
I did not find the Lingcod egg nest divers found on Saturday. I searched the area where it was discovered, but did not find the guardian Lingcod, nor the nest. However I did find even more elusive critter - one lonely Northern aka Pinto abalone !
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Thu Mar 25, 2021 8:14 am

Deception Pass March 21st. Once again, we were hoping to find at least one Lingcod guarding eggs since the observations around Whidbey Island this year are to date very dismal. Visibility was bad which didn't help in our survey, but the currents were mild helping with our mission. Not one nest was found, only three Lingcod sighted. The timing of the slack was rather complicated, there was one hour and five minutes difference in predictions between the old and new tables. This time, the old tables were more accurate. Interesting also was that the low tide before the slack was higher than the predicted high tide...The Pass remains an enigma, which keeps its allure and feel of adventure. The sea stars are doing fine, with Red sea cucumber r-emergence, some of the colors returned to the underwater gardens of Deception Pass.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:33 am

Deception Pass, March 21. Although these two critters are described as a common, somehow this was the first time I photographed them. And it was during the last minutes of my hour long dive, after the safety stop over the gravel and sand bottom near point of entry/exit on the Little North Beach...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Mar 27, 2021 5:25 pm

Possession Point Fingers, March 23, 2021.
The days are going by faster and faster, it seems. Or maybe I am getting slower and slower. Trying to keep up with load of pixels in my hard drive. Here are some invertebrates from that dive. Starfish and cucumber...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:28 am

The three roses of Possession Point Fingers. Sand Rose Anemones that is, They thrive here, there are many small juveniles, but these three are big and beautiful, interestingly, each one little bit different from the others.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:34 am

Keystone March 27th.
Some of the views ...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:10 am

Skyline March 26th.
The Stimpson's aka Striped sun stars were nice, but the red juvenile Kelp greenling (if it is what I think I saw), was a nice surprise. I have never seen that color variation before.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Sharkb8 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:16 am

Jan, I’ve seen the exact same coloration of the juvie greenling there before. They are quite beautiful to see underwater!
Party underwater

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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:34 am

Keystone Jetty scenes. The male Scalyhead sculpin residing on the Rock of Life keeps on getting all the attention of females, adding eggs inside his Giant barnacle home. Lingcod giving me the evil eyes and few slug encounters to add to the collection.
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