mollusk

California Abalone Diving

Strange things happen in Northern California during springtime. Campgrounds and motels that were unoccupied most of the winter are now sold out. Coastal roads that were once empty are bustling with traffic. Large numbers of employees are mysteriously absent from their jobs. A case for the X-Files? No, it’s simply the beginning of abalone season. The red abalone is the world’s largest, and this mollusk thrives on Northern California’s inshore reefs. Red abalones are not as abundant as they once were, but with a little […]

Soft Bodies, Striking Beauty: Uncommon Opisthobranchs

Some of the prettiest creatures in the sea belong to the phylum Mollusca, most specifically the subclass Opisthobranchia, which includes sea slugs, sea butterflies, sea angels and sea hares, along with sacoglossans. Though they may have shells when they are embryos, most have lost them by the time they are adults. Never heard of sea butterflies or sea angels or know what sacoglossans are? Me, either! So pardon a short digression. While you may be envisioning ethereal creatures, sea angels and sea butterflies don’t look […]

She Seas Sea Stars: Sea Stars Exposed

Lying on or crawling ever so slowly across the bottom, the sea star looks deceptively simple and slightly out of place — like it might have fallen from a child’s crude drawing of the night sky and landed on the sea floor. But don’t let the sea star’s appearance fool you. It’s a complex, fascinating creature, indeed.  For example, the sea star doesn’t have to ingest its food; it covers it with its oral disc (body) and then extrudes its stomach (which resembles a tiny, […]

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