Saturday, August 13, 2022


Spotted Dorid Nudibranch
(click images to view larger)

Stepping out onto the reef at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve early this morning I quickly spotted a tiny bright orange critter that I assumed was another of the tiny sea cucumbers I photographed at the bottom of this recent post. It was only when I viewed the magnified image in Photoshop that I was able to get a better look at the tentacles coming out of its head. But wait, what is that among the tentacles? Isn't that a rhinophore? D'oh!

Apparently this was a juvenile spotted dorid, Triopha maculata, and at no time on that reef did I ever realize it was a nudibranch. Yes, there is more than one kind of tiny orange slug-like critter with weird appendages.

For a couple of days before heading out to Fitzgerald I whet my appetite with a perusal of the hefty Intertidal Invertebrates of California by Morris, Abbott, and Haderlie, published in 1980. Morris was the sole photographer for the color plates in the back of the book, and he has a nice shot of a 40mm-long Triopha maculata (much larger than the ones in this post) from Pacific Grove. Morris shot all the pictures using Kodacolor film in a second-hand Exakta 35mm camera with 50mm and 100mm lenses fitted with bellows, extension tubes, and/or close-up lenses. He used trays, flood lights, and fresh bottled sea water to make many of the images, sometimes from the confines of a motel room. I can imagine the struggle of trying to do it all himself, and I appreciated his quip that, "The equipment seemed to function more effectively when it was supplemented by ample amounts of sweating and cursing."

It seems like it's getting increasingly difficult to find non-commercial search results with Google, and I couldn't figure out if Morris is still around. But if he is, I'll bet he'd appreciate how easy it is nowadays to photograph tidepools. I saw people getting amazingly good results with their smartphones, as well as compact cameras that can go underwater. Anyway, I thank Morris for his efforts and for showing me the incredible variety of intertidal animals it's possible to see in California, including some that look more like slime molds than anything we'd normally associate with the word "animal."

Spotted Dorid Preparing To Be Left High & Dry

Spotted Dorid Showing Its Foot

Another Orange Animal (A Sponge, I Believe)

A Turban Snail Encrusted With Coralline Algae

San Diego Dorid Nudibranch

Close Crop of One of Its Rhinophores

The Setting Moon With Remnants of Fog

A Tube Worm in Its Case

A Not-Very-Yellow Sea Lemon Nudibranch

A Beautiful Lined Chiton

A Smaller Lined Chiton In A Delicious Bowl of Coralline Algae

A Six-Rayed Sea Star
(About the Size of a Quarter)

An Even Smaller Sea Star On Iridescent Kelp

A Green-Tinged Limpet Surrounded By Barnacles

The Always Irresistible Sunburst Anemone

Reef Rug

An Even Tinier Six-Rayed Sea Star

A Keyhole Limpet on the Move

A Young Red Crab (Deceased)

Another of the Morning's Several Juvenile Spotted Dorids
Scoots Past a Periwinkle Shell

Camouflaged Sculpin

Sun Rays on the Bluffs

A Raven Snags A Morsel In The Wrack

First at the Tidepools,
Last at the Tidepools:
A Flock of Gulls

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