I learn something new every walk we take, and so it was at Totman Cove when we walked out in that tidal inlet looking for Moonsnails. We found Moonsnails, all right, in fact, five were eating a lobster as you see in the picture to the left! It is hard to know how the lobster was captured since it wasn't a soft shell, but it was definitely a feast for these carnivorous snails.
I left the group to snorkel farther out and search for sanddollars. It took me a while, but I did find not only live ones but several skeletal remains. These are the first live ones we have found this summer. They cruise in a sandy substrate, using the small spines characteristic of all echinoderms (spiny animals). They lack the beauty of a sun bleached skeleton, but it was a special event to compare.
The final natural event of the
week had to do with a caterpillar that isn't. Several campers
found these orange "caterpillars"; some even witnessed
a spraying by these critters! These are the larvae of a Sawfly
insect. They look like a moth or butterfly caterpillar, but have
several characteristics that
set them apart. For starters, Sawfly larvae have 2 simple eyes
where caterpillars have 6 pair! Both have 3 pair of true legs
on the thorax, but differ in the number of prolegs. Sawfly have
5 or less prolegs with hooks while the moths and butterfly larvae
have 7-8 pair without hooks! The Sawfly squirts fluid which also
is unique. Here is the Sawfly larva The adult resembles a fly,
but has a second pair of wings. Amazing. 8/20/05 Still learning,