Balanus nubilus “Giant Acorn Barnacle” Cirripedia (Crustacea)

Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

B. nubilus is the world’s largest species of barnacle and can grow up to half a foot across and over a foot tall! This species also holds the world record for having the largest individual muscle fibers of any animal! These fibers are regularly used in the study of muscle physiology. Like all barnacles, this species is a filter feeder and prefers to reside in waters that have constant currents or wave action, but will also grow on the hard shells of other animals. The Giant Acorn Barnacle was first described by Charles Darwin in his lesser-known works on Cirripedes from the 1850s, prior to the publication of the Origin of Species. His research on barnacle anatomy and systematics is recognized as one of the most important works in Cirripede science from the past two centuries, and yet, very few people are aware of his contributions to Crustacea.

Octopus rubescens “Pacific Red Octopus” Cephalopoda

Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

 

The Pacific Northwest inter- and subtidal zones are home to two species of octopus. O. rubescens is by far the most commonly encountered cephalopod in tidepools along the coast, although, in some regions of Washington, the Giant Pacific Octopus is more abundant. Unlike the somewhat terrifying Giant Pacific Octopus which can reach an arm-spread of over 9m (30ft) and can weigh up to 275kg (600lb), the Red Octopus rarely reaches an arm spread of more than 50cm and is a much more dainty and adorable octopus. Its preferred foods are crustaceans such as hermit crabs, shore crabs, and prawns and, as such, are often accidentally captured in crab and shrimp traps. Be warned, in spite of their adorable, smushy appearance, Red Octopuses are rather strong and really like to bite!

Heerman’s Gull (Larus heermani) Laridae

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

Heerman’s Gulls

are often mistaken for jaegers due to their dark, pointed wings and their habit of chasing other birds (particularly pelicans) to steal their prey. They are the only gull species in North America to breed south of the States, but spend winters north of Mexico. Recently, perhaps due to a surge in southern populations thanks to Mexico’s increased protection for the species, a few individuals have attempted to nest in the US on Alcatraz Island.

Anthopleura xanthogrammica “Giant Green Anemone” Anthozoa

Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

 

These anemones can grow up to a foot tall and a foot across! They’re abundant on rocky and sandy shores throughout the north-eastern Pacific (from Alaska to Panama). They tend to occur lower in the intertidal zone than their little, pink counterparts (A. elegantissima). The Giant Green Anemone primarily consumes dislodged mussels, crabs, small fish, and urchins, but has been recorded consuming larger animals including baby birds! It’s primary predators are leather stars, snails, and the shaggy mouse nudibranch.

Chrysaora fuscescens “Pacific Sea Nettle” Scyphozoa

Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

 

The Pacific Sea Nettle is a relatively common sea jelly along North America’s Pacific Coast. They are also commonly kept in captivity due to their relatively simple care and attractive coloration. The tentacles of this species can easily grow up to 5 meters long, but are specialized for capturing small zooplankton and are relatively harmless to humans. These sea nettles have been increasing in abundance along the coasts of Oregon for the past few years. It’s possible that rising global sea temperatures or other anthropogenic changes to the local environment are the cause of this drastic increase in nettle populations.

Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla) Parulidae, male

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area (BLM), OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

Wilson’s Warbler was first identified by the father of American Ornithology, Alexander Wilson, in 1811. In his honor, the species was placed in a new genus, Wilsonia, in 1838 along with the Canada Warbler (W. canadensis) and the Hooded Warbler (W. citrina). But recent genetic evidence suggests that the genus Wilsonia should be split and merged with Setophaga and Cardellina. Although, considering that the methods used to determine these new relations are six years old, another revision of the Parulid family tree would not be surprising. Wilson’s Warblers are a common resident of moist forests throughout the PNW and perhaps best identified, like all warblers, by their song.

Sebastes pinniger “Canary Rockfish” Sebastidae

Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, OR
June 12, 2015
Robert Niese

Canary Rockfish are among three species of PNW rockfish that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. All rockfish species are long-lived and overfished, however, and many populations are in massive decline. Fortunately, since 2007, regulations in British Columbia and Washington have banned the the fishing of all rockfish species living in most of the Puget Sound and Georgia Basin.

Pollicipes polymerus “Gooseneck Barnacle” Cirripedia (Crustacea)

Seal Rock State Park, OR
June 11, 2015
Robert Niese

This species of Gooseneck Barnacle is the most common species of intertidal goosenecks in the PNW. In Portugal and Spain, their cousin P. pollicipes, is a common delicacy, but due to over-harvesting and coastline habitat destruction, the PNW now regularly exports this species to Europe. Check out Gordon Ramsey preparing a traditional, tapas-style barnacle recipe here. Also, this species is in direct competition for space and resources with California Mussels (Mytilus californianus) and will out-compete them in the absence of their primary predators, the Ochre Sea Star (Pisaster ochraceous) and the Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens).

Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana) Scolopacidae

Seal Rock State Park, OR
June 11, 2015
Robert Niese

This Tattler was certainly wandering! It’s breeding season for most shorebirds this time of year, but this lone Wandering Tattler is hundreds of miles away from its typical breeding grounds in NE Russia, Alaska, and NW Canada. What’cha doing here, buddy?