4 October 2008

Deep Cove bay

I found the plumose anemones (see previous post) on a jetty at Deep Cove bay. The jetty and bridge are overgrown with foolish mussels, Mytilus trossulus (photo above), sea anemones, hydroids, sponges and seaweeds.

Deep Cove bay is in the vicinity of Sydney. We stayed at the Gazebo bed and breakfast, in a village between Victoria and Sydney. A perfect spot for nature and culture-lovers. Have a look at: www.gazebo-victoria.com

The bay is as sheltered as the rocky shore beneath the Wickaninnish is exposed. Because of the exposure both shores are inhabited by different creatures. However, some species like the ochre star (Pisaster ochraceus) and the red rock crab (Cancer productus) are found on both kind of habitats.

The ochre star (Pisaster ochraceus) resting and searching for prey on the bridge.

The jetty seen from above. A lot of people have no idea of the creatures on and under the jetty. For example the sunflower star; a starfish that can grow to 1 meter, with 26 arms and 15.000 tubefeet! More about this starfish in a next message.

The screw of a ship overgrown with hydroids, a colony of animals related to sea anemones.

Even ropes are footage enough for sea anemones, hydroids, seaweeds etc. As you can see, the water was a bit misty and muddy.

I have snorkelled two times at Deep Cove bay for more than 4 hours. After 2.5 hours I swam to the beach to drink and eat something and to get warm: the water felt a bit warmer than at Tofino. At Tofino I measured a water temperature of 10˚ Celsius!

The giant plumose anemone

It can grow up to 1 meter high: the giant plumose anemone (Metridium farcimen). The specimens I saw were not higher than 25 cm. It’s one of my favourite sea anemones because of its fluffy appearance, created by its hundreds of tentacles.

Compare the tentacles of the giant plumose anemone with the green surf anemone (see one of the previous messages).
The thinner the tentacles the smaller its prey. So the plumose anemone needs a lot of tentacles to catch plankton. The green surf anemone lives of individual organic and much bigger prey, like fish, crabs etc.

The short plumose anemone, Metridium dianthus (NL: zeeanjelier), another Metridium-species you can find at the west coast of Canada. This is a Dutch specimen. The two species look very much alike. The big difference is its size. The short plumose grows up to 20 cm, the giant to 1 meter. Find a real big one and you're sure of the species!

Since 1974 I own a cold water sea aquarium. It hosts mostly sea anemones (27 species) and a few starfish, crabs and fish. I have collected the animals myself from all over the world (Europe, New Zealand and South Africa).

Since two years it’s more difficult to take them home because of the regulations at airports: you are only allowed to take home flasks containing no more than 10 cc of liquid. But I still managed to take a few sea anemones and starfish home.
Before we got to the security check I dumped the seawater in a toilet. To my surprise they didn't ask me to open the bucket, after it went through the rontgen scanner. At a store we bought a few bottles mineral water. In the plane I mixed the mineral water with the aquarium salt I brought from home (divided in portions of 1 liter in serviettes), till it was salt enough (I had to taste it...). The animals responded well and the only thing I had to do to keep them well, was to shake the bucket a bit now and then.

The man sitting next to my wife was looking at us as if we where doing something very illegal. But I understand: who is mixing white stuff in serviettes with mineral water in a plane?

The beautiful plumose on this picture is now my guest.