Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Walkabout Missive #1 OR Local Colour

In an attempt to escape the inevitability of a SAD Seattle winter, I've fled to the Southern Hemisphere for a few weeks.  Actually, I've fled the Northwest for the rest of the year. I've been staying with my friend Tasha, who is doing a Ph.D. at Lincoln University on non-native clovers (more later?)! As we've explored her field sites, digging along roadsides because science is nothing if not glamorous, we've also been able to explore some EXTREMELY rad intertidal places. We stopped over at Taylor's Mistake (Figure 1), a little cove east of Christchurch.  
Figure 1. Taylor's Mistake? As in, "Whoops, this place is fantastic"?
Like a good little naturalist, I had the foresight to spend a bit much on a field guide. With the notable exception of the gaping hole in the shape of arthropods, this book has been pretty helpful.  So, here I'll do my best to give you a little tour by proxy. Feel free to let me know if you've noticed something I've gotten wrong. I've also tried to include the Maori names where they are available.

Local Faunae

You've already noticed the mussels, perhaps?  I counted 4 species: carpets of Little Black Mussels/Kuku (Limnoperna(1) pulex - Figure 2), Blue Mussels/also Kuku(2) (Figure 3, Mytilus galloprovincialis) which, I'm sure you've already noticed, are familiar for being invasive in the PNW; Green-lipped mussels/again, Kuku (Perna canalicula - Figure 4) , which have the distinction of being one of the prettiest mussels I've ever seen. I also espied, but naturally have no photodocumentation of, ribbed mussels/kuku, too?(3) (Aulacomya maoriana).

Mussel Beach

Figure 2. Yeah, no shortage of mussels.  Little Black Mussels/Kuku.

Figure 3. Beaucoup kuku. Black and Blue mussels. 

Figure 4. NZ Green-lipped mussel (+ friend, snakeskin chiton, Sypharochiton pelliserpentis)

And speaking of gastropods, let's not forget the snails...

Figure 5. This is absolutely a whelk, but beyond that, I'm really not certain on this one. Nothing I've found in the guide or online is quite right for this one. Any guesses? But you can scope the Banded Periwinkles (Austrolittorina antipodum) on the mussels in the top right.

Figure 6.  Oh I got this one, Beaded top shell - Calliostoma punctulatum

Figure 7.  Top shell and two Cook's Turbans/Karaka (Cookia sulcata). These snails were all live and just hanging out on the sand! Don't you know?! You guys are too cool to be so accessible!
Figure 8.  Nudi-eggs?

And lest you think I was entirely mollusk-o-centric:

Figure 9. Anemones!  Dunno what they are, couldn't get a good enough view...definitely some symbiodinium up in there though.

Ok, last two.  These were from Brighton Beach, a bit north.

Figure 10.  Dosinia anus (snicker)/Harihari, I think? It was such a cool, flat shell.  I'm just a little bit obsessed.

Figure 11. These carapaces were all over the beach.  My best guess is the New Zealand Paddle Crab (Ovalipes catharus)

And here's the scene at Brighton Beach (4):

Figure 12. Ok I swear this is the last one.  You can just see Kaikoura (I think) looking north.

OK - Ima go find some more stuff...

References and Miscellany:
(1) Double-checking taxonomic status of names on WoRMS, the guide gives the genus as Xenostrobus, but WoRMS says Limnoperna is the accepted genus.

(2) From what I can tell, using the Te Papa site, there are lots of Maori names for these things, but the generic mussel name seems to be "kuku". 
(3) These might also be called "kopakopa" which is also used to refer to other shells that are "ribbed"
(4) It was really windy, and the sand was very fine at Brighton. I might have permanently damaged my new camera...Thanks Tasha for lending me your camera and some pictures as well...


  1. So jealous and SO happy for you. Keep exploring!!

  2. My pleasure, lady! Beach exploration is extra-amazing with The Grason!
    :) XO