Saturday, March 7, 2015

18.08% of the time elapsed - 35.1% of the species count done!

Of course, the number of species is always fluctuating. Not a week goes by without my deleting, adding, or changing a species name from the (so far) 461 observations I logged with

It's been a good few weeks for mollusks, with 59 species so far!!!!

An outstanding mollusk seen since the last blog post is the orange peel nudibranch, Tochuina tetraquetra:

Orange peel nudibranch - Tochuina tetraquetra - Sitka, AK
Brooke also found an American three-toed woodpecker on Kruzof (three-toed woodpeckers are rare in the Sitka area):

American three-toed woodpecker, Picoides dorsalis - Kruzof Island, AK

The day after the three-toed woodpecker, we saw hundreds of harbor porpoises. Usually if we see a lot of porpoises in Southeast, they are Dall's porpoises. Yes - the black dots in the background are also porpoises!

Harbor porpoise, Phocoena phocoena - South of Kruzof Island, AK

There were also some good news in the tunicate side of things. So far I have seen 16 species of tunicates, including two species I hadn't found before (Styela yakutatensis and Didemnum albidum), and two specimens of this amazing parasitic flatworm inside the solitary ascidian Corella willmeriana (you can see its ventral surface through the tunic of the individual in the left side of the picture):

Eurylepta leoparda, a parasitic flatworm in tunicates, inside Corella willmeriana. Jamestown Bay, Sitka, Alaska

Platyheminthes, parasitic in ascidians, Eurylepta leoparda
I also got to 22 mosses and four liverworts, from almost none of either group, mainly thanks to Matt Goff. Matt went on a short walk with me to show me some common mosses, and gave me detailed instructions on how to find a few more species. Also, Kari Sagel loaned me her dissecting microscope for the year, which helps me take diagnostic photos of mosses, such as of this Rhytidiadelphus loreus from Starrigavan Valley:

Rhytidiadelphus loreus - Sitka, Alaska

And thanks to Brooke, too, of course!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A month and a half in, and one quarter of the way there!

I haven't added many species at all lately, because I was very busy with work and school, and the weather was not great. I still haven't seen a mockingbird, but I did find one of the rare birds that were reported recently: the chipping sparrow.

Since it is still winter, Brooke and me are still snorkeling a lot

Brooke snorkeling in Sitka

Here is a nice sea anemone: Urticina lofotensis

Urticina lofotensis

Here is another anemone, very common but always pretty, from a Valentine's Day snorkeling trip in Leesofskaia Bay:

Metridium farcimen

For those of you who aren't familiar with the species, it's about the length and width of a person's arm.

I also found a giant nudibranch, Dendronotus iris. I do not see one of those every year.

Otherwise, most of the species I added since January were species that I will probably see again over the course of the year.

The biggest surprise last month was that I had already seen 11 species of echinoderms. Now it's an even bigger surprise to find out that I saw 18 species of echinoderms so far!!!!

One of my echinoderms showed up as a single arm on a fishing hook that had gotten hung up on the bottom. I immediately recognized it as the fish-eating starfish (also known as velcro star) Stylasterias forreri and tossed it into the bait bucket to take a picture later. When I retrieved it from the bait bucket it had attached itself to a couple of bait herring. If a fish is complacent enough to land on its back, this species of starfish is capable of catching it with its dorsal pedicellaria, and eating it. Way to go, echinoderms of Sitka Sound!

Fish-eating starfish, Stylasterias forreri
Here is the list of echinoderms seen so far this year, as of February 15:

Amphiodia occidentalis
Cucumaria miniata
Cucumaria pallida
Dendraster excentricus
Dermasterias imbricata
Evasterias troschelii
Henricia leviuscula
Leptasterias hexactis
Mediaster aequalis
Ophiopholis aculeata
Parastichopus californicus
Pisaster brevispinus
Pisaster ochraceus
Psolus chitonoides
Pycnopodia helianthoides
Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis
Strongylocentrotus franciscanus
Stylasterias forreri

Basically, I will probably end the year with 25 echinoderms, which is very, very good. I now have to look for Eupenctata spp., Cucumaria vegae, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, Strongylocentrotus pallidus, Solaster dawsoni, Solaster stimpsoni, Orthasterias koehleri, a Chiridota, and perhaps a subtidal surprise on the longline, like a crinoid, sand star, or unusual Solaster. I know people that have found slime stars, Crossasters, and black-spined sea stars here, but I have never found any of those. I will look!

And since we are on the theme of echinoderms, here are a couple more species seen in the past month:

Amphiodia occidentalis

Henricia leviuscula - the blood star - the other species of Henricia here is rare

Six armed star

Daisy brittle star - Ophiopholis aculeata

Giant pink star - Pisaster brevispinus

CUcumaria miniata and Cucumaria pallida - supposedly different species

Parastichopus californicus

Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis, pale form

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Introducing the thousand species project!

This year I am starting something new to me: to try and find 1,000 different species in southeast Alaska within one year.

Of course, this is still Alaska in the winter, where some habitats are buried under snow and many species are dormant, gone, or otherwise inaccessible. Thankfully, there isn't much snow and I know a few people who are willing and able to help. First of all, Brooke (above), and also Matt Goff, Kitty LaBounty, Aaron Baldwin (in Juneau), and many other people both online and in real life.

Also thankfully, things are just fine underwater:

At the very beginning of the year I was still working two jobs so I just counted a few birds at the feeders in the front yard, and at Swan Lake. Then I set up an account with a website that should help me log, identify and report the 1,000 species:

iNaturalist is a useful website because I need a place to put my observations and have others check them, and they need people to upload observations to attain critical mass. So far, they only have about a million observations, which is only a thousand people doing a project like this.

So far, over the first fifteen days I have logged 185 species. The website counts 175 or so, because of some peculiarities of the way in which they count. That's fine. The biggest suprise so far is this:

I introduce you to Chirolophis decoratus, the decorated warbonnet, an amazing fish we found snorkeling and I had never, ever seen before. Brooke actually touched it.

I predicted that I would start out with mostly birds, and so far that is mostly accurate. I found 56 birds, mostly abundant species but also a couple of rare ones, such as the American kestrel and American tree sparrow.

A surprise is that I already have seen a large number of the local echinoderms, 11 species in all, out of not very many total (echinoderms are the starfishes, sea cucumbers and sea urchins). I expect to see maybe three more sea cucumbers, one sand dollar, five more starfishes, one more brittle star, two more sea urchins, and a sea lily if I am lucky. That means I am almost halfway through that group, which is rather incredible.

I also found a couple of good nudibranch, including this stunning Tritonia festiva:

I am also almost halfway through the expected tunicates, which is less surprising since so many of them are most easily found in the harbors and the rare ones are not easily identified without DNA analysis. So far, I have observed six tunicates.

Here is my list so far, only in Latin at this time:

Pleurophycus gardneri Alga
Chondracanthus exasperatus Alga
Nereocystis luetkeana Alga
Macrocystis integrifolia Alga
Arenaria melanocephala Bird
Catharus guttatus Bird
Histrionicus histrionicus Bird
Fulica americana Bird
Larus thayeri Bird
Aythya collaris Bird
Bucephala clangula Bird
Spinus pinus Bird
Troglodytes pacificus Bird
Agelaius phoeniceus Bird
Brachyramphus marmoratus Bird
Calypte anna Bird
Haematopus bachmani Bird
Actitis macularius Bird
Falco sparverius Bird
Spizella arborea Bird
Podiceps grisegena Bird
Uria aalge Bird
Gavia pacifica Bird
Phalocrocorax auritus Bird
Melanitta fusca Bird
Melanitta perspicillata Bird
Larus canus Bird
Anas crecca carolinensis Bird
Aix sponsa Bird
Sialia currucoides Bird
Aythya affinis Bird
Turdus migratorius Bird
Bombycilla garrulus Bird
Megaceryle alcyon Bird
Gavia immer Bird
Bucephala islandica Bird
Podiceps auritus Bird
Bucephala albeola Bird
Phalocrocorax pelagicus Bird
Aythya marila Bird
Clangula hyemalis Bird
Mergus merganser Bird
Ardea herodias Bird
Mergus serrator Bird
Haliaaetus leucocephalus Bird
Loxia curvirostra Bird
Poecile rufescens Bird
Ixoreus naevius Bird
Cinclus mexicanus Bird
Regulus satrapa Bird
Corvus caurinus Bird
Zonotrichia leucophrys Bird
Melospiza melodia Bird
Anas platyrhynchos Bird
Anas americana Bird
Sturnus vulgaris Bird
Streptopelia decaocto Bird
Passerella iliaca Bird
Zonotrichia atricapilla Bird
Junco hyemalis oreganus Bird
Anthopleura artemisia Cnidarian
Metridium senile Cnidarian
Gersemia rubiformis Cnidarian
Metridium farcimen Cnidarian
Anthopleura xanthogrammica Cnidarian
Hemigrapsus nudus Crustacean
Hesperibalanus hesperius Crustacean
Pentidotea wosnesenskii Crustacean
Oregonia gracilis Crustacean
Heptacarpus brevirostris Crustacean
Balanus nubilus Crustacean
Pugettia gracilis Crustacean
Pandalus danae Crustacean
Pandalus platyceros Crustacean
Semibalanus cariosus Crustacean
Hemigrapsus oregonensis Crustacean
Munida quadrispina Crustacean
Strongylocentrus franciscanus Echinoderm
Pisaster ochraceus Echinoderm
Psolus chitonoides Echinoderm
Ophiopholis aculeata Echinoderm
Cucumaria miniata Echinoderm
Dermasterias imbricata Echinoderm
Pycnopodia helianthoides Echinoderm
Mediaster aequalis Echinoderm
Strongylocentrus droebachiensis Echinoderm
Parastichopus californicus Echinoderm
Evasterias troschelii Echinoderm
Polystichum braunii Fern
Adiantum aleuticum Fern
Polystichum setigerum Fern
Huperzia miyoshiana Fern
Polystichum andersonii Fern
Gymnocarpium disjunctum Fern
Equsetum variegatum Fern
Polypodium glycyrrhiza Fern
Artedius fenestralis Fish
Pholis laeta Fish
Chirolophis decoratus Fish
Sebastes caurinus Fish
Sebastes entomelas Fish
Xylaria hypoxylon Fungus
Heterotextus alpinus Fungus
Nidula candida Fungus
Fomitopsis pinicola Fungus
Nidula niveotomentosa Fungus
Pleurotopsis longinqua Fungus
Trametes versicolor Fungus
Ganoderma applanatum Fungus
Cladonia cornuta Lichen
Cladonia maxima Lichen
Pilophorus clavatus Lichen
Lecanora xylophila Lichen
Caloplaca verruculifera Lichen
Icmadophila ericetorum Lichen
Neovison vison Mammal
Megaptera novaeangliae Mammal
Phoca vitulina Mammal
Eumetopias jubatus Mammal
Enhydra lutris Mammal
Tamasciurus hudsonicus Mammal
Homo sapiens Mammal
Lottia pelta Mollusk
Macoma balthica Mollusk
Protothaca staminea Mollusk
Pododesmus macrochisma Mollusk
Aegires albopunctatus Mollusk
Hermissenda crassicornis Mollusk
Doris montereyensis Mollusk
Katharina tunicata Mollusk
Tritonia festiva Mollusk
Acanthodoris hudsoni Mollusk
Ceratostoma foliatum Mollusk
Lirabuccinum dirum Mollusk
Cryptochiton stelleri Mollusk
Tonicella lineata Mollusk
Amphissa columbiana Mollusk
Acmaea mitra Mollusk
Mytilus trossulus Mollusk
Clinocardium nuttallii Mollusk
Hylocomium splendens Moss
Vaccinium oxycoccos Plant
Picea sitchensis Plant
Alnus viridis ssp. Sinuata Plant
Boschniakia rossica Plant
Lysichiton americanus Plant
Elliottia pyroloflorus Plant
Claytonia sibirica Plant
Plantago major Plant
Maianthemum dilatatum Plant
Phyllospadix serrulatus Plant
Geum macrophyllum Plant
Senecio vulgaris Plant
Aruncus dioicus Plant
Sambucus racemosa Plant
Oplopanax horridus Plant
Juniperus communis Plant
Empetrum nigrum Plant
Ledum groenlandicum Plant
Kalmia polyfolia Plant
Pinus contorta var. contorta Plant
Tsuga mertensiana Plant
Moneses uniflora Plant
Cupressus nootkatensis Plant
Tiarella trifoliata Plant
Rubus pedatus Plant
Cornus canadensis Plant
Menziesia ferruginea Plant
Coptis asplenifolia Plant
Tsuga heterophylla Plant
Rubus spectabilis Plant
Taraxacum officinale Plant
Digitalis purpurea Plant
Ranunculus repens Plant
Heracleum maximum Plant
Alnus rubra Plant
Pyura haustor Tunicate
Ascidia columbiana Tunicate
Halocynthia igaboja Tunicate
Metandrocarpa taylori Tunicate
Botryllus schlosseri Tunicate
Botrylloides violaceus Tunicate
Eudistylia vancouveri Worm
Serpula columbiana Worm
Myxicola infundibulum Worm