13 September 2008

Vancouver Island, Canada

I start this blog with Vancouver Island, an island at the west coast of Canada. Jacques Cousteau famed the marine life of this island as the most impressive of the earth's cold water region. I have visited this island in July for two weeks; the pictures are taken above and underwater.

Ik start deze blog met Vancouver Island, een eiland aan de westkust van Canada en door Jacques Cousteau geroemd als het mooiste onderwater gebied van de gematigde zones (lees: niet tropische wateren). Daar ben ik in juli twee weken geweest en heb daar boven en onder water foto's gemaakt van het bijzondere zeeleven.

The rocky habitat beneath our beautiful resort: the Wickaninnish Inn at Tofino. Have you ever encountered a hotel site that says 'find a sea anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima, we think'. See www.wickinn.com. And it's the right species, however... see one of the following posts.

My first encounter with the ochre or purple star (Pisaster ochraceus).

The ochre star is a sturdy, leathery starfish that preys on barnacles and snails but mostly on mussels. It attaches itself very strongly on rocks with its tubefeet. They’ld better: the surf can be very heavy.

The lifespan of this starfish is up to 20 years; there is a record of a specimen as big as 50 cm. It’s very abundant on the rocky shore of Tofino: I found up to a 1.000 ochre stars in a relative small area. Their thick, sturdy arms remind me of ‘Barbapappa’.

Underwater it has a fluffy appearance, due to the papulae. They give the starfish its basic colour.

Two juvenile and an older ochre star.

Another juvenile specimen.

Tofino's rocky coast.

I have been at places on the coast of South Africa, near Capetown, where I saw aggregations of sea anemones. Then I was impressed. At Tofino I could only stammer things like awesome, massive and cool (as the Canadians would say): I saw thousands of green surf anemones (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) and pink-tipped anemones (Anthopleura elegantissima). For me this shore is like a candy store.

These are all green surf anemones.

Next post: more about the green surf anemone.

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