A recent collecting trip to Neah Bay has brought some fascinating new critters to our Closer Look table—including a few that are lesser known and fantastically camouflaged. Come get to know them during your next visit to the Seattle Aquarium!
Kelp poacher: Even though this fish lives in shallow water along our coast—and can sometimes be found in tide pools—it wasn’t discovered and described as a species until 1979, and still very little is known about it. The maximum depth for this species has been reported as 36 feet, but our collecting team found this animal 50 feet below the surface, sitting on top of rocky reef amongst the kelp.
Pacific sand dollar: After capturing various kinds of plankton and detritus, sand dollars use their spines, tube feet and pedicellariae (minute, pincer-like structures) to move the food to their mouth which contains a small Aristotle’s lantern—a conical structure of calcareous plates and muscles described by Aristotle as resembling a lantern.
Scaled crab: This crab is related to the umbrella crab described below—they’re both members of the family Lithodidae. Other lithodids include: rhinoceros crabs, heart crabs, Puget Sound king crabs and Alaskan king crabs.
Slime star: When threatened, this sea star secretes large amounts of mucus.
Smooth alligatorfish: This fish is a species of poacher, a group of bottom-dwelling fish whose bodies are completely covered with rows of bony plates that meet but do not overlap. These fish swim by “rowing” with their pectoral fins since their bodies are relatively rigid and inflexible.
Umbrella crab: The shape of this crab’s shell helps it to blend in well with small rocks and shell pieces on the sea floor.
Where did the animals go that were on the Closer Look Table before? Some went behind the scenes, but look for others popping up in new places. For instance, you can find our abalone and sand dollars in the Life on the Edge tide pools. (Did you know sand dollars are touchable, gently and with one finger? Come see what they feel like!)
Interested in learning about the Seattle Aquarium’s cold-water collection methods and strategy? Read our recent blog post!