Turning Over Rocks

You know how sometimes you really need to go looking for the good stuff? Like, the best and cutest hostel on Cape Cod, or the tastiest hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in San Francisco, or the awesome snarky humor that your quiet friend can express just with eyebrows and three-word sentences: none of this stuff is flying banners or running newspaper ads or leaping out of the water to attract your gaze (dolphins are SUCH attention-seekers…). But you have to take the time to peek into the little jewel-boxes of the world, and you have to pay close attention to the AWESOME STUFF that lives in and under the algae-encrusted rocks right at the waves’ edge.

Seriously, there is a ton of stuff down there! At first glance it looks like just a pile of moldy rocks- cast-off and dead coral chunks, bits of limestone, and old cracked conch shells- but under all the rocks there’s a zoo and a half of biota. Everything from sneaky hidden anemones to sea urchins, flatworms to crabs and suckerfish and sea stars… 

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I was a big fan of this little guy- we found him on the underside of a big slab of limestone. I think he’s a Stippled Clingfish- an algae grazer. 

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This one wasn’t technically under a rock, but more washing over them in the edges of the waves. I honestly have no idea what it is, beyond the vague inkling that it’s a cnidarian (jellyfish) of some kind. It didn’t seem to sting me, but its tentacles were very delicate.

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This last pretty lady was inside of a conch shell- when I picked it up, all these legs came wriggling out into my hand.

Don’t miss the little stuff! Go and pick up some rocks, and look behind those doors you’ve always wondered about. There could be some pretty schweet stuff in there. 

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4 comments on “Turning Over Rocks

  1. Henry says:

    The best and cutest hostel indeed!

  2. Tommy says:

    What is that blue jellyfish thing? It looks amazing! We demand that you identify it. Never seen anything like it. Does the Monterey Bay jellyfish exhibit know about this? It looks at least as cool as anything they’ve displayed. Liam likes the colors of blue it has.

    • It’s a “blue button,” or Porpita porpita, a colony of genetically identical hydroids gathered around a central float. So it’s still a cnidarian… just lots of them, all pretty much identical twins of one another! Each tentacle is an individual animal, but they all came from the same polyp. Their sting is pretty mild to humans but very effective against zooplankton, which is mainly what they eat. I’m sure the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s heard of them- maybe they’re difficult to display for some reason? I like the colors of blue too!

  3. Camille says:

    Great pictures! And, yeah, so much is about taking the time to find the quiet gems in lieu of all the flash. As true in science as in the rest of life…

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