Monday, August 31, 2009

Mark your calenders...

International Coastal Clean-up day is on September 19th.

It's almost time for the annual coastal clean-up day! Every year at this time, people from all over the world come together to clean up beaches.

Don't live near a beach? Find the nearest river, stream, or water way and help clean it up. Find a site near you. California does a great job in organizing sites all along the coast and in several inland river areas.

Can't find a clean-up site in your area? Make your own.

If you just want to to it by yourself, and not through an agency, that's fine too. The important thing is to give back to those beautiful areas that we all love to enjoy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Fine

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata


Order: Pleuronectiformes

For this week's theme, I chose this cool picture of a display at the California Academy of Science. This is a real flatfish, which has been prepared using a special staining process. The bones are stained red, while the cartilage is stained blue.

This is a common technique in science, and it can be used to study how bones develop, or how they work relative to each other. By leaving the specimen intact, one can see how the bones in the jaw move, without damaging any of the fine tissue and cartilage which holds it together.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Life Photo Meme: Honor an invert

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Mollusca


Order: Pulmonata

Family: Arionidae

Here we have an amazing picture of a Banana slug (Ariolimax sp.), which I captured a photo of it as it roamed across the forest floor in Muir Woods. There are three species of Banana slug known, one of which, Ariolimax columbianus, is the second largest terrestrial slug in the world. It can reach up to 25 cm (10 in) long. All live in the foggy, forest belt on the pacific coast from Central California to Southern Alaska.

These guys posses a pneumostome, a hole which is visible in this picture as a dimple a bit down from the head. The pneumostome opens into a highly vascularized cavity which acts as a simple lung for these animals.

They are very prone to dehydration, so tend to inhabit areas that are moist, and produce lots of mucus. At the tail end of the slug, you can see some debris caught in the slug's mucus plug. This plug covers the caudal pit, where the mucus is produced. Their mucus not only keeps them moist, and helps them move, but also protects them as it has an anesthetic-like chemical making them unappetizing to other creatures.

Finally, Banana slugs also use their mucus as a mode of communication. During mating season, they will incorporate pheromones into their mucus, making it easier for another slug to find them.