Apr 11, 2013: Professional Oyster Pickers Development Day

Tideflat Critters

Last week Teri King from Washington Sea Grant came by to school us on sea creatures. We're getting geared up for our oyster rama and open farms, and wanted to re-familiarize ourselves with all the creepy crawlies. Our beach walk with Teri turned into an intertidal show-and-tell featuring colorful eggs, goopifying sea cucumbers, translucent clams, and boring sponges.... with the crew running around the beach finding things for Teri to identify, and Teri, in turn, asking the guys questions about what kinds of sea creatures they come across while working on the flats. Teri and Miguelito inspecting a sand worm:




Jose with a giant, ticked-off sea cucumber:



An exposed tube worm:

tube worm,dry


A submerged tube worm:



A sunflower star, which get much bigger than the one pictured here, as Nick (in the background) demonstrates.



We saw lots and lots of eggs, including these nudibranch eggs:



In the wet, deep areas we found wild olympia oysters clinging to pacific shells: olympias



And quite a few jingle shells (hi Vicki!): jingle shell


In a very encouraging turn of events: the beach is now fairly loaded with pacific spat from last year's spawn. While this past set wasn't EPIC, at least it happened... it's been about 6 years since we last had a set of any significance.



And of course, we found lots of moon snails. Sometimes when you pick up a moon snail it clams up, squeezing all the water out of its foot and slamming shut the trap door. Othertimes, and this is so random it might just be personal, the snail simply tries to crawl out of your grasp, extending its foot curiously into the air. Crawling:

kid with moonsnail





Moon snails are tricky critters, and they hide when the tide leaves. Here's Miguelito pulling one out of its hidey-hole:

miguelitovmoonsnail miguelitovmoonsnail2 miguelitovmoonsnail3 miguelitovmoonsnail4


... and here's Miguelito with a handful:



And finally, there's this, which is altogether way too silly. It's an arm, an egg sack of some sort, and a dead oyster, all accidentally situated to resemble a home-made beach-themed muppet puppet:



Our second Open Farm of the year is this Saturday from 12:30 to 2:30. It's going to be a quieter affair than last month's event... no beer garden, no company barbecue... just u-pick and intertidal exploration. Come prepared!



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