Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Story of a black jelly

Last summer we had a rare event. Tens of black sea nettles (Chrysaora achlyos) washed ashore on our beach. These guys are pretty rare, so we jumped at the chance to get some gonadal tissue to start a new culture of jellies. We collected the adults from the beach, and I extracted the gonadal tissue from the insides of the bell. (This was a rather painful process which involved me getting stung for three days.)

I used bits of the tissue to sex the animals; females had eggs, and males had packets of sperm. After I figured out who was what, I put a little bit of male gonads and female gonads together in a petri dish and mixed them up, to beak open the male's sperm packets. (It felt a bit like making red scrambled eggs.)

Male sperm packets

Female tissue with eggs

After 3 days, planulae were spotted swimming in the petri dishes.

After 5 days, the planulae settled to the bottom to become polyps. These are newly settled with only 2 fully formed tentacles.

Four months later, I am very happy to say that my polyps have begun to strobilate. I have some beautiful ephyrea, that will become (in my opinion) the prettiest-colored jellies ever.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bringing in the new year

This new year's day has been pretty exciting because for the first time ever, we still have baby California spiny lobsters in our care. This little guy was 184 days old, about 14 days older than last year's record. He was also a little smaller than a quarter, all stretched out.

Larval lobsters can remain in the plankton for up to a year, so we still have a way to go before it settles and looks anything like the lobsters we know. This year, we've seen some growth that we've never seen before, new legs and tail sectioning, and it's mostly due to a difference in the diet we're feeding them.

Here's hoping that they continue to grow in the new year!