In my last report, I got wrapped up in talking about Sea Slugs, but there was so much more on our hike and climb down to Starfish Cave. This is no "walk in the park", as you've heard me say. Here you see some of the climbers carefully descending the giant staircase enroute to the cave. Some did it by barefoot, others with sandels, but I prefer hiking boots for safety. We all managed, thankfully.
Several Sea Stars were found in the cave itself, but many more were found on the shoreline. We were assisted by a snorkeler who came up with a Blood Star to show his daughter. You'll notice he has no wet suit but claimed the water temperature was quite tolerable! It was a warm sunny day which helped.
The Sea Stars we found were of many colors. The large ones were quite soft and when handled, one felt they might come apart. I think these were filled with eggs ready to be disbursed in the ocean. We handled them carefully, and as always, returned them to the cave.
One hunter found another Asian Shore Crab which gave us a chance to compare with the more common Green and Red Crabs on our shoreline. Snails were gathered and their various distinguishing features were observed. The round, brown Periwinkles are vegetarians while the more pointed and variously colored Dogwinkles are carnivorous. What animals do those Dogwinkles eat? Barnacles, Mussels, and other snails.
Here you see the multicolored Sea Stars walking over each other with their numerous tube feet. There is one different specie at the bottom left with the orange madreporite on its top surface. Remember that "spot" is a very important part of these animals, without which they could not live. The madreporite is a sieve plate.....really a door for water to enter the animal. The water is channeled down each "arm" and into the tube feet. When the muscles in the tube feet contract, they flatten and create suction. The water is required for these tube feet to function, its means of walking and gaining entry into foods. Too bad we didn't turn over one of these stars to show the tube feet operating. Up at the top left corner are several spiney Sea Urchin, also found in the cave. These animals are all related by having spines, tube feet and parts in sets of 5's. The urchin has five teeth that are used to chew seaweeds. What amazing animals these are!
This was a memorable outing. We finished up our sea life searches by creating the infamous inuksuks. These are piles of rocks used by the Inuit Indians to mark sacred places. Unfortunately, the tide will flatten these creations, but they are fun to make. 7/24/09 Ronnie, seeing stars!