Monday, 24 May 2010
Something New (1): Green Leaf Worm
It has been an amazingly sunny weekend here in South Wales, with hardly a cloud in the sky. We spent quite a bit of time on the coast. I was delighted to see a Common Starfish at Caswell Bay on Gower. I must have occasionally seen these fine creatures before, but I can't think when that would have been. It was a great thrill to see the Starfish clinging to the side of a rock pool. The translucent tangerine colour was amazing. I was so frustrated that I did not have my camera with me at the time - my own fault entirely, of course.
We also saw quantities of extraordinary green worms on the rock faces around the edge of the beach. Neither of us is aware of ever having seen these creatures before. What did we do in the days before Google? As a youngster, I turned, of course, to the weighty volumes of the Children's Encyclopedia Britannica. Anyway, a quick Google search led me to Jessica's Nature Blog, and enabled me to discover that these worms are Green Leaf Worms Eulalia viridis (Linnaeus). Do follow the link to read about them and to see what they look like! Jessica Winder's photograph also solves another mystery: it has helped me to identify an unattractive orange substance - like a slime or fungus - that we noticed in rocky crevices. Apparently it was 'encrusting sponge' (you can see some amazing examples here by clicking and scrolling down). Thank you, Jessica.
We also noticed some small fairly uniform spherical creatures along the tideline. They were like transparent globules, about 1cm across. I wondered if they were perhaps eggs of some kind, or Sea Squirts or baby Jellyfish. It seems likely that they were either Sea Gooseberries aka Comb Jellies (Ctenophores), exactly like the one in the photo here, or Salps. Salps are Tunicates, which have sac-like bodies enclosed in a membrane-tunic, with two openings or siphons for absorbing and dispelling water.
'Curiouser and Curiouser'...