Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Fish & Invertebrate sightings and descriptions, hosted by resident NWDC ID expert Janna Nichols (nwscubamom).
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Tom Nic
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Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Tom Nic » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:55 am

Many of you have no doubt noticed a bunch of juvie Orange Sea Pens at our regular mudholes, at least down in the South Sound. I've been seeing them at TTN and Redondo, and a TON of them at Fox Island West Wall. And of course with them are their associated predators.

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Does anyone know how fast they grow? It seems like quite a while since I remember seeing the 12-24' tall adults, and of the ones that survive it will be fun to monitor them and see how fast they grow. It seems like a good "recruitment" year (if I can use a term commonly applied to Rockfish) for them. I've seem it before, but as with most critters only a few seem to make it to adulthood.

I was surprised to see several Flabellina verrucosa feeding on the juvenile Orange Sea Pens. I had not observed this before.

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I almost missed it, and wouldn't have noticed it except for seeing several in one place, getting closer, and seeing that some of them were going after retracted juvie Orange Sea Pens in the sand.

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Of the species I've seen feed on the Orange Sea Pens are Diamondback Tritonia, Pink Tritonia, Striped Nudibranch Arminus californicus, and I I saw a Shaggy Mouse dog pile on an adult Orange Sea once upon a time. I noticed my first Opalescents of the year here, maybe a dozen or so, but I didn't observe them going after the Sea Pens.

Here's a Diamondback Tritonia going after a juvenile from 2011.

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And here's a wild pack of Shaggy Mice taking down an adult [Orange Plumose - correction, thanks for noticing Jan!], shots from 2008 at Harpers Ferry.

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It's fun to slow down, observe, and not just see the critter but start to recognize behaviors more and more! Thanks for reading....
Last edited by Tom Nic on Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Tidepool Geek » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:32 am

Hi Tom,

Terrific observations and images!

I thought you might be interested in this article on the life history of Sea Pens:
http://ronshimek.com/blog/?p=293

Recruitably yours,
Alex

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Tom Nic
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Tom Nic » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:45 am

Thank you! Look forward to reading it!

A quick glance tells me that these beautiful creatures are a huge menu item for lots of critters!
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by ScubaJess » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:22 am

Great snaps Tom :)
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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Tom Nic
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Tom Nic » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:35 am

ScubaJess wrote:Great snaps Tom :)


Thanks Jess!
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Gdog » Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:54 pm

Good stuff, Tom. Thanks for sharing this.

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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by YellowEye » Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:49 pm

Very cool Tom!

Great to see all those nudies.

We saw a lot of small pens at junkyard this weekend too.

Interesting resource tidepoolgeek! I winder if there are fields if them anywhere anymore?

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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by 60south » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:35 pm

We saw thousands of juvenile sea pens today off of Port Townsend, pretty much straight out from the Maritime Center boat ramp. All within the 30-50ft range.

There were a few around here years ago but none lately, until now. I'll be interest to see how many survive. No nudis were seen...yet.

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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Vjw » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:37 am

Great pictures! Very cool nudis

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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Greg Jensen » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:25 pm

Acres of adult pens near the Fox Island bridge
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Tom Nic
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Tom Nic » Sat Mar 17, 2018 8:24 am

Greg Jensen wrote:Acres of adult pens near the Fox Island bridge


That is exciting, and a good reason for me finally dive there! We're they under the bridge or on the way there?

The ones at West Wall are growing in spite of heavy predation.

The ones at Three Tree are almost gone.
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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by YellowEye » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:59 am

Very cool to see that!

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Re: Orange Sea Pens, Flabellina verrucosa, and Other Predators

Post by Greg Jensen » Sun Mar 18, 2018 5:09 pm

There are a few scattered ones under the bridge, but the big bed is pretty much straight out from the boat launch

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