Tag Archive: Invertebrates

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Scyphozoa
Order: Rhizostomeae
Family: Catostylidae

Genus/species; Catostylus mosaicus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The blue, white or brown colors are derived from pigment produced by the jellyfish itself (not symbiotic algae, as in some other jellyfish). There is no obvious mouth on the underside, but there are small openings on each of its eight arm, through which food is passed to the stomach. Diameter up to 30 cm (18 in)  


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in coastal waters of Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

DIET IN THE WILD: The tentacles also have stinging cells that can capture tiny crustaceans and other plankton.


REMARKS: The Chinese believe eating jellies will reduce high blood pressure. Dried jellies are popular in many Asian countries, especially Japan, where they’re considered a culinary delicacy. The texture is reportedly crispy, yet elastic—hence the name “rubber band salad” for a dish sold in China.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Color on the Reef  2017 AQA10

EOL eol.org/pages/203402/details

Monterey Bay Aquarium  www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/invertebrates/bl…

WordPress  https://brianeyes21comcast.net/2016/09/18/9-9-16-blue-blub…o-pacific-series/   Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1In

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/29482409560/in/album-72157659465376212/



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Theraphosidae

Genus/species: Brachypelma smithi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The body and legs are dark brown with orange-red leg joints. The ends of the legs can detect vibrations, smells and tastes, to help the tarantula locate prey and the opposite sex, although it also has a group of eight eyes on the top of the carapace.

Length up to 14 cm (5.5 in)

Mexican Red Knee Tarantula30463911086_990fd616a7_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in in dry areas with little vegetation, usually in scrubland, deserts, dry thorn forests, or tropical deciduous forests along the central Pacific coast of Mexico.
DIET IN THE WILD: Hunting at night by lying in ambush, the Mexican redknee tarantula attacks insects, small frogs, small lizards, and mice. An area on the end of each leg is sensitive to smells, tastes and vibrations, and this is used to detect prey. The tarantula holds its prey with its pedipalps (front limbs) and injects it with venom delivered via two hollow fangs. This venom has a double purpose, paralysing the prey as well as beginning digestion. Once the venom has acted, the tarantula is able to suck up the proteins and fats of its prey, leaving just a small ball of undigested body parts

REPRODUCTION: Mating occurs in or near to the female’s burrow, where the male uses his pedipalps (front limbs) to transfer his sperm into openings in the underside of the female’s abdomen. After mating, some females will try to kill and eat the male. In the spring, the female deposits hundreds of eggs and the sperm onto a silk mat which she has made and then fashions this mat into a ball or egg sac. Fertilisation takes place within minutes and the spiderlings hatch in just less than three months. Once out of the egg-sac they spend two weeks in the burrow before dispersing. Males mature at about four years of age and females two to three years later at about six or seven years old. They are a long-lived species with females living up to 25 to 30 years old, however males only live about one year after maturity.


Mexican Red Knee Tarantula4515783385_eb611c7fd6_o

REMARKS: This usually docile tarantula will kick hairs off the abdomen with its hind legs when threatened, which cause blindness if they hit the eyes of a predator and can also cause a rash on the skin.

California Academy of Sciences Animal Attractions 2016

Ron’s Flickr   https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/30463911086/in/album-72157608653175263/

EOL  eol.org/pages/1181785/details

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1IR


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Actiniaria
Family: Metridiidae

Genus/species: Metridium farcimen  aka Metridium giganteum
Metridium farcimen4545409258_06cac3dd83_b

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Erect smooth column. Usually 50 cm (20 in) or less in height The column is slender, smooth and studded with acontia. These are openings through which thread-like nematocysts from inside the body wall can protrude. The oral disc is lobed and deeply convoluted at the edge and bears well over 100 fine, short, tapering tentacles. Color variable from white through cream to tan, brown and orange. Carries short, feathery tentacles in white, brown or gray.

 Metridium farcimenIMG_9548

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Eastern North Pacific: Alaska to Baja California. Found in sub tidal areas attached to rocky substrate. Individuals usually aggregate in groups on deeper rocky reefs.

 Metridium farcimen4673318353_928bfcd2f0_o

DIET IN THE WILD: Plankton—whatever drifts by or is carried in by the tide; predators include Pisaster spp. sea star and some species of nudibranchs.

REPRODUCTION: Eggs and sperm from the gonads embedded in the body wall which are ejected through the mouth. Fertilised eggs develop into planula larvae which settle and metamorphose into polyps.                   

PREDATORS: Pisaster spp. sea star and some species of nudibranchs.

REMARKS: When attacked, they contract suddenly, extruding specialized nematocysts through the mouth and body wall that, much larger than those found in the tentacles, can deter or even kill predators.

 Location: California Rocky Coast and Giant Pacific Octopus exhibits


 The University of Kansas kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/handle/1808/6043

 eol eol.org/pages/704280/details#type_information


 Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/3400331201/in/set-72157625127345346/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1lg


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Subclass: Hexacorallia
Order: Corallimorpharia
Family: Corallimorphidae

Genus/species: Corynactis californica

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Typically red or orange-pink, occasionally purple, yellow, buff, brown or nearly white.
Corallimorphs are not true anemones. Tentacles end in knobs (club-tipped tentacles) and are not fully retractile, usually being white. Corallimorphs are also very similar to corals in some other characters, but lack the hard coral skeleton. Found in groups, with individuals up to 2 cm (0.8 inches) long (average height and diameter is 1 cm  (0.4 inches).

Northern Feather Duster Wormimg_5344


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: British Columbia, Canada to Baja California, Mexico. Habitat: Colonies abundant from the low rocky intertidal to 30 m (98 feet).


DIET IN THE WILD: C. californica captures prey by extruding mesenterial filaments onto its prey which are used for digestion and absorption of food in the coelenteron. If the prey is too large to take into the coelenteron, the mesenterial filaments are used to digest it externally. They are carnivores consuming  copepods, crustacean larvae and other zooplankton.

REPRODUCTION: Asexual by fission and budding resulting in a dense cluster of clones

REMARKS: The presence of aggregations of C. californica increase the density of rock oysters and mussels by protecting them from predatory sea stars.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium 2016

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/2996776409/in/set-72157608597451452/

Ron’s WordPress  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1l0

eol eol.org/pages/1006944/details

 U. of Michigan ADWanimaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Corynactis_califo…

 Walla Walla Universitywww.wallawalla.edu/academics/departments/biology/rosario/…




Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Order: Octopoda
Family: Octopodidae

Genus/species: Octopus bimaculoides

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Usually a mottled-brown color with a dark deep-blue ovoid spot under each eye. It can use the chromatophores in its skin to change its color and texture when hunting for prey or hiding from predators (including its eye spots).

Size to 3 feet (including its body and outstretched arms)

2spot Octopus25853155380_e17555cef7_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found from central California to northern Baja California among reefs and pilings on the sea floor.

DIET IN THE WILD: Limpets, black abalone, snails, clams, hermit crabs and small fishes. Prey are subdued with a parrotlike beak and toxic secretions through a salivary gland. Their food is then scraped out with a radula.

REPRODUCTION: Females lay up to 150,000 eggs under rocks from late winter to early summer, then brood on them continuously for 2-4 months. During brooding, the female doesn’t feed and usually dies when eggs hatch.

Two-spot Octopus26033508582_96a0c27793_k

Life Span: One-and-a-half to two years.

PREDATORS: Moray eels, scorpionfish and humans. Arms are often lost during a fight with a moray eel and can regenerate.

CONSERVATION: O bimaculoides is very sensitive to impaired water quality, thus water pollution is an issue for its survival.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart aquarium Animal Attractions 2016

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/26033508582/in/album-72157629304397467/

Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Octopus_bimaculatus/

Jaffe Laboratory jaffeweb.ucsd.edu/node/twospottedoctopus

Monterey bay Aquarium  www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/octopuses-and-ki…

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org/exhibits/socal-species-det…

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1G9



Phylum Cnidaria
Class Anthozoa
Subclass Zoantharia
Order Actiniaria (anemones)
Family Actiniidae

Genus/species: Anthopleura xanthogrammica

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: A  solitary species and one of the largest species of anemone in the world. Column to 30 cm (12 in) tall and 30 cm (12 in) tentacular crown with 25 cm (10 in ) diameter mid base. The base bottom is only slightly larger than column diameter and adheres to rocks.  Tentacles are green, blue, or white without pink on the tips.  No marks or bands.  The oral disk is flat and usually green, but can be grayish-blue to greenish-blue.  Contracted animals form a green to dark greenish-brown, occasionally white hemispherical mound.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Alaska to Panama in prefers rocky areas and deeper tide pools of the low to middle intertidal zones to 9 m (30 ft), and wharf pilings. Usually solitary; in favorable locations can occur in numbers to 14 per square m.

DIET IN THE WILD: Detached mussels and sea urchins, also take crabs and small fishes. Zoochlorellae endosymbionts supplement host’s diet.

PREDATORS: Nudibranchs, snails, sea spiders and some sea stars, especially leather stars.

REPRODUCTION: A. xanthogrammica have separate sexes releasing sperm and eggs in late spring to summer. The larvae swim or float freely. They do not use asexual reproduction.


REMARKS: Some fishes and the hermit crab Pagurus samuelis develop protection from the anemone’s toxins by covering themselves with mucus that prevents them from being stung.

The bright green can be attributed to green pigment in the anemone epidermis and to symbiotic algae that live in the tissues that line the gut. Inside there may be zoochorellae (green algae) or zooxanthellae, which are dinoflagellates. The symbiotic algae are reduced in numbers or even absent (aposymbiotic) when in shady areas.

LOCATION: Tidepool and California coast.


Walla Walla University


 eol eol.org/pages/704306/details#cite_note-Skiles-4

flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157625127345346/

WordPress shortlink: http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-w4

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Echinodermata
Class Asteroidea
Order: Forcipulatida
Family: Asteriidae

Genus/species: Pisaster giganteus

 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Giant sea stars have five arms covered with white, pink, or purple spines surrounded by blue tissue at the base, and range in color from red, orange, brown, or even green. The surface has brown fuzz and pedicellariae. They have a maximum arm span of about 60 cm (23.6 in). P. giganteus would seem improperly named, as the average intertidal specimen is smaller than the average P. ochraceous; however subtidal specimens grow considerably larger.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: They are distributed along the eastern Pacific coast from British Columbia to Baja California. They are common on rocky substrates, but also found on sand from the middle to lower intertidal zone down to 90 m (300 ft).

Giant Sea StarIMG_1040.JPG - Version 2

DIET IN THE WILD: Their typical prey are hard-shelled organisms such as mussels, snails, and barnacles by extending its stomach to fit into tiny gaps in bivalves such as mussels. However, they may occasionally eat anything slow-moving enough to be caught, such as a dying fish or shellfish, anemones, or other sea stars.

Giant Seastar IMG_8851

PREDATORS: Sea gulls and sea otters are sea star predators.

REPRODUCTION: Individual sea stars are male or female. Both sexes release gametes into the water for external fertilization. Larvae are planktonic and have bilateral symmetry. Giant sea stars live about 20 years.

REMARKS:  SEA STAR WASTING SYNDROME has become a major issue in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. For an excellent summary check this link to the University of Santa Cruz 9-9-14.  http://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/data-products/sea-star-wasting/updates.htm

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.  http://www.fitzgeraldreserve.org/newffmrsite/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/BetweenTides_9-14_web.pdf



California Academy of Sciences Tidepool Exhibit 2015

Woods Hole www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/kamaral/SeaStar.html

Bishop Museum hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pubs-online/pdf/op11-8.pdf

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/598468/details

Animal Diversity Web, ADW  http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Pisaster_giganteus/classification/

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/7137830837/in/set-72157608501343477

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1mV

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Scorpiones
Family: Caraboctonidae (hairy scorpions)

Genus/species: Hadrurus arizonensis

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Black cephalothorax with pale yellow rimmed segments; pale yellow abdomen, pincer-like pedipalps, and legs; pale under-surface; and abundant erect dark brown sensory hairs.

Largest of the nine scorpion species in North America. Length 10 to 18 cm (3.94 to 7.09 in)
Ave. weight 5 g (0.18 oz)

They molt 4 to 6 times before reaching adulthood in about 4 years.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Mexico, western Arizona, southern California and Nevada, southwestern Utah. Found in semi-arid and arid habitats. Dig and live in deep burrows in soil during summer.


DIET IN THE WILD: Although the venom of North American hairy scorpions is fairly week compared to most scorpions (about the same as a bee sting) these solitary predators immobilize and eat other scorpions, insects, spiders, small lizards and snakes. Forages at night for prey and mates.


REPRODUCTION: Scorpions reproduce sexually following an intricate mating behavior. Gestation lasts 6 to 12 months. Females give live birth to a large litter of 25 to 35 individuals. Occasionally, after mating, the female tracks down her mate and eats him.

LONGEVITY; Up to 25 years in captivity, ave, 7-10 in the wild.

PREDATORS: Owls and large lizards. When provoked they raise their legs and orienting themselves vertically, striking blindly at anything deemed threatening.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List, Not Evaluated

REMARKS: Venom in the scorpion’s stinger is used to subdue struggling prey and for self-defense. The venom is not very potent or painful to humans. Like all scorpions, has poor eyesight, excellent hearing, and a fine sense of touch (body hairs detect air and ground vibrations).

Color of Life note

Also like all scorpions, they fluoresce under ultraviolet light, a characteristic that allows scientists (and well-equipped backpackers) to detect them in the night and perhaps signals scorpions to avoid damaging UV light.

Ref. California Academy of Science Docent program 2015



California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium, Little Water 2018 with exoskeleton

Ron’s flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4770063879/in/album-72157608653175263/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1zv

Animal diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Hadrurus_arizonensis/

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/3195616/details

Getty Images www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/giant-desert-hairy-scorp…


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Class: Malacostraca
Order: Stomatopoda
Family: Odontodactylidae

Genus/species: Odontodactylus scyllarus


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Beautifully colored in peacock colors of greens, blues, and reds. Has a green body, blue head, green antennal scales, red limbs. The body is elongated with a long, flattened , blue tail and ranges in size from 3–18 cm (1.2-7.0 in). Highly noticeable is the pair of clubbed-shaped, praying mantis-like claws..

DISTRIBUTION/HABITATS: Indo-Pacific Habitat: warm salt water and builds U-shaped burrows in gravel substrates. Depth ranges from 3-40 m (10-131 ft).

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds on other shrimp, worms, snails, crabs, mollusks. Lies in wait for prey in front of burrow, then swims out and quickly crushes prey with a strong, powerful smash. The claw moves so quickly it generates cavitation bubbles, which explode with a second powerful burst. The speed with which the claw moves through the water generates a force 100 times the shrimp’s body weight.

REMARKS: Large peacock mantis shrimp generate forces powerful enough to crush the shell of a large conch, and have been known in captivity to break the glass of their tanks!

The amazingly complex eyes of mantis shrimp detect 12 base colors (compared to our 3). They also can discern ultraviolet, infrared frequencies, and the polarization of light.


Color of Life note
Biofluorescence results from the absorption of electromagnetic radiation at one wavelength by an organism, followed by its reemission at a longer and lower energy wavelength, visually resulting in green, orange, and red emission coloration. Many species of mantis shrimp, for example, make use of fluorescent body parts when in threat display in order to intimidate or confuse either a predator or a competing male.
Ref: Color sources, California Academy of Sciences Docent program May 2015


Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Odontodactylus_scyllarus/

Plos one   http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0083259

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-We

Ron’s flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608602469734/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Mantodea
Family: Hymenopodidae
Subfamily: Epaphroditinae

Genus/species: Phyllocrania paradoxa

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: This is a miniature species of leaf mantis, growing to under 5 cm (2 in). Theses mantids exhibit sexual dimorphism with females being longer and having a wider abdomen than males. Colors can vary from grey/green to dark brown or almost black. Colors are dependent on humidity and light levels. Ghost mantids have leaf-like head and shoulder shields, and leaf-like protrusions hanging from their limbs. This “dead-leaf” appearance makes it very difficult to see. The scientific name is probably derived from Greek for “leaf “(phyllo) and Latin for “head” (crania).

Phyllocrania paradoxa6319511720_e34688f6b4_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: P. paradoxa are found in the warm, highly humid tropical forests of Tropical Africa including Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, and Somalia.

DIET IN THE WILD: This species will eat almost anything that moves, and it is very, very fast. When another insect comes within striking distance, the mantid flicks out the long front legs, and grabs it in a fraction of a second. They are remarkably patient, and will sit in the same position for weeks, just waiting for something to land near them.

DIET IN CAPTIVITY: Drosophila (fruit flies), houseflies, crickets, and flour worms.

MORTALITY and LONGEVITY: Generally a long-lived species.  Molt every 3–5 weeks, until the 4th and final molting.  Life span: up to 14 months in captivity.

REPRODUCTION: In general mantids reproductive organs are found at the tip of their abdomen. Females attract males with pheromones, there is a brief courtship dance, and the male alights on the female’s back. After delivering sperm, the male usually hurries away as females are known to consume their mates! After fertilization the female deposits batches of eggs, using an ovipositor at the tip of her abdomen. The eggs stick to stems and leaves, and each batch is housed in an egg case made from an abdominal secretion that hardens to protect the eggs from birds and other predators. After about a month the nymphs hatch and then molt several times, each time becoming more like the adult form. 

Juvenile below

Color of Life Note: Ghost mantids exhibit cryptic coloration (conceals or disguises an animal’s shape). They look like a vine draped on tree and bush branches.


LOCATION: Madagascar Rainforest


References. California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual.

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4333501334/in/set-72157620708610230/

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-eK

Encyclopedia of Life  http://eol.org/pages/3489690/details

ADW Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Phyllocrania_paradoxa/classi…



%d bloggers like this: