Thinopinus pictus, a Predatory Intertidal Staphylinid

If you walk the drift line you’ll want to get to know Thinopinus pictus, the pictured rove beetle. Pictured roves roam the damp sand between the swash and dry sand ambushing beach hoppers. They’re most active at night, but the odds of running across one on your morning walk are high. You’ll have to watch…

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Calling Up Connections

It’s been a good year for barnacles and bay mussels. Billows of goose barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus, proliferated freely. Blue mussels, Mytilus trossulus, a delicacy for predators, settled abundantly out of the plankton. Adult acorn barnacles, Balanus glandula, grew so fast they crowded each other off the rocks creating open space for recruits. To maintain balance in the face these…

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Stranded Greenling Raises Eternal Question: To Assist or Not Assist?

Last week, thanks to a good low tide, I got to explore a stand of Ahnfeltiopsis. The surf was bigger than I wished, but the grove was upon me, and my attention was on the sand-loving red algae people call forked seaweed. While I was solving seaweeds, the swash left a 75 mm prize flopping…

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Surfbirds Live Up to Their Name on the Winter Range

Ah, those little surfbirds, how they they love a low tide. Low water exposes their winter feeding grounds. This flock seemed oblivious to anything but feeding. The rocks had a fresh growth of algae and apparently hosted lots of prey. Wintering on rocky surf-swept shores, the surfbirds’s dark plumage blends in nicely. Is it camouflage?…

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Harmony in Nucella

Nucella feeds in harmony on their rocky mid and high intertidal grounds. You hardly ever find a loner. Harmony in Nucella, however, means a sight of wreckage for acorn barnacles, Balanus glandula. Nucella drills into the shell and eats the barnacle within. It may be a breach of etiquette to post a violent predator-prey scene in a…

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The Dynamic Wrack Line

Every winter high surf and rivers swelled by drenching storms combine with high tides to replenish the wrack line. It’s an annual cycle of renewal, muted only when winter storms are mild. Recent winters on my home beaches have seen few storms, low surf, and little replenishment of the wrack line. That changed this winter.…

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Intertidal Gathering

With favorable space at a premium, and intense competition and predation, gathering is a way of life in the intertidal.   *** Note: Little brown barnacles, Chthamalus dalli, featured in the image at the top of this post, don’t pack as tightly as some other barnacles, but they still gather in favorable spaces. Gathering

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A Redtail Surfperch Photo Shoot

Back in mid October I spent part of a day trying to get some new shots of one of my favorite surf zone fishes, the redtail surfperch, Amphistichus rhodoterus. I didn’t get a lot of redtail participation, and as I explain below, I didn’t spend much time with those that did. My photo shoot wasn’t a…

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An Ordinary Beachcast Kelp

A wave-tossed frond of feather boa kelp, Egregia menziesii, washed ashore by the first big fall surf. Fall and winter storms are sure to send pulses of drifting kelp onto exposed beaches. It’s an annual cycle so routine we barely notice it; but to beach hoppers the seasonal deposition of drift kelp means everything.

Beach hoppers make a living on beach beach cast kelp. Their shows, little holes, outline the edges of this feather boa kelp
Beach hoppers make a living on beachcast algae. Their shows, little holes, outline the edges of this feather boa kelp stipe

Here’s another example; this time the treasure is bull kelp, Nereocystis luetkeana.

There's a beach hopper party under and along this bull kelp stipe
There’s a beach hopper party under and along the seaward edge of this bull kelp stipe

Click pale beach hopper, Megalorchestia columbiana, to see some photos and and learn a little more about the hopper responsible for most of the sand work seen in the photos above.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”