• So, is it an animal?

    May 11, 2011

    We’re two days into our 5 day recreational shrimp season in Hood Canal, and both shrimp openings (last Saturday and today) have been extremely windy. Naturally, the intervening days have been peaceful and calm. Saturday was so rough it scared one of the gray beards off the water before he even dropped his pots. Today, Dave and Annie surprised themselves by pulling up something long and slimy with their shrimp trap.

    It’s been a few years since we’ve pulled up one of these slimy critters, and very few of us remembered ever seeing one before. Lynne claimed complete ignorance of the creature, until we found some incriminating photos.

    In 2009, we decided to call this thing a sea whip, a decision potentially based on faulty Wikipedia information, but more likely motivated by a childish urge to actually use the thing like a bullwhip. Now after conducting a scientific study (looking at Google image results) we’ll stick to calling it a sea pen, because the two terms don’t appear (and we mean that literally) to be interchangeable.

    Sea pen:

    Sea whip:

    Here’s one of those cool Ernest Haeckel images of the Pennatulida family, which includes sea pens.

    Like oysters, sea pens are a favorite prey of sea stars. Nudibranchs also enjoy feasting on sea pens.

    Sea Pens use their bulbous feature to attach to the ocean floor.

    Bulbous feature:

    Sea pens eat plankton, and emit bright green bioluminescence when disturbed.

    Hama Hama: your reliable source for information.


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