Found this guy after the sun went down after I’d been looking for inverts all day, found garden variety isopods and snails. It’s been weeks since I last saw a slug in the yard so I’m pumped. Any idea what kind he might be? Found in central-ish Texas.
He looks like a Cellar Slug [link to iNaturalist] to me! This species was introduced to North America (and much of the world) from Europe. I found a few of these at my old apartment in north Austin:
I was pretty happy to see slugs there, since they were the first I’d found since I had moved to Texas from Washington a few years previously! I find slugs and snails much more often now (it helps to go out in the woods and at night!), but usually they don’t get as big as these ones.
The giant bee wasn’t “lost to science”. No one got grants to go study or monitor their populations for >20 years because no one would find it. That’s the real story here. We are constantly undervaluing and underobserving basic natural history about small creatures like bees.
In the light of everyone reblogging about the rediscovery of the Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) no one is acknowledging (besides us zoologists) the fact that this has already happened with this bee. It was thought lost since 1859 until it was rediscovered in 1981 and now 2019. This is because of lack of funding going towards conversing and discovering insects like this bee!
This is the important missing part of the story!!!!!
I face the same challenge in my work to study and protect frogs.
If you search a list of “critically endangered invertebrates” at least a third of them are listed as “possibly extinct”.
POSSIBLY. Because no one has the funding to even got and check if they still exist. That’s where we are at with invert conservation.
this is why i hate pandas
Hell, this is where we’re at WITH BIRDS.
I have some tiny bug friends on iNat who have been valiantly going through all the unidentified tiny bug photos and trying to identify them (and I mean, true valor). One of them will comment on some random photo of a thing I snapped with my phone in my yard two years ago before I knew what I was doing “Oh hey THIS IS A RARE BLAH DE BLAH” and I’m just like, oh yeah I just randomly found it in my yard I probably have hundreds of those.
Sometimes, I will find a bug, identify the bug, upload the bug to iNat, and iNat will helpfully tell me, OH YEAH THIS IS CRITICALLY ENDANGERED IN TEXAS. Like, one of the spittlebugs I find sometimes in the fields might go extinct because THE FIELDS KEEP GETTING DESTROYED.
Another aspect of this story that isn’t getting told: a lot of the natural sciences are no longer even teaching natural history and organisms the way they used to. Taxonomy is all about genetics these days. Museums are switching over to hiring… people who can’t identify specimens without running PCR??? Like, they cannot look at an animal and tell you what it is unless they analyze cellular tissue. So universities aren’t teaching the “old way” anymore? So, nobody tries to get grants and study ecology because all people care about is genetics and blah blah who cares???
Both are important, but the funding institutions clearly do not agree. And the way science is funded these days, people HAVE to go for what they know will get them money to do the work they know is important. Just add a little bit of genetics to get some money to do the ecology work, right? But over twenty, thirty years… ecology work doesn’t get funding anymore.
Anyway, don’t listen to me, I picked engineering and I still can’t find a job. I’ll just be muttering to myself in this ditch over here collecting microscopic hemiptera and getting gnats in my eyes.
Day trip to Corpus Christi, saw a million man o’ wars in the gulf coast. First time seeing them in person! Exciting!!!
Posted December 2016 / Rebloged December 18, 2018
These are siphonophores, colonies of a bunch of different types of organisms that… somehow function as a cohesive unit. It’s complicated and I don’t know too much about them besides DO NOT TOUCH! and also they’re not cnidarians (jellyfish)!
Mustang Island State Park
If that’s a man of war your bare feet shouldn’t be anywhere near it. Their stingers are long as hell and can’t always be seen
Yes indeed: if any of y’all are in the water, and you see a floaty balloony friend on the water like you see up there? GET OUT NOW. The tentacles are many, many, many times longer than you see in the photos here, and likely these ones had been torn up as they washed ashore.
It was a little concerning to see SO MANY OF THESE, but: it was December 29 or something like that (cold!), nobody was swimming, I was only barefoot because the tide was coming in and oh boy went OVER the top of my waterproof hiking boots (saltwater and sand in boots in December? may as well go barefoot).
We weren’t walking in the tide, we were well-above the level the water was swelling at, so we weren’t in danger, and we made sure to tell people who had never seen these things before not to touch them (although, they had a pretty good idea not to).
You might have noticed that the number observations from Taiwan have been growing quite a bit (see chart below), showing off the incredible biodiversity of the island and its surroundings. Much of this growth has has been spurred by a community of both researchers and citizen scientists, one of whom is Cheng-Tao Lin (@mutolisp), the current top observer in Taiwan and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Resources at National Chiayi University. Prof. Lin has graciously translated the responses from this week’s observer, so I want to thank him and Shu-Chen for collaborating on this.
huang_shu_chen (whom I’ll refer to as Shu-Chen), is a diving volunteer for the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology in Keelung, Taiwan, and says “My partner and I (see below) do routine underwater work about coral reef restoration, patrol and investigation, and assist in recording species to create a marine diversity checklist. In addition to these routine tasks, I will also take photos of these beautiful marine creatures.”
The beautiful Violet Sea Apple you see above was taken by Shu-Chen during her first dive using an underwater camera with a flash, and she tells me
it is also the first time I saw such a fascinating and gorgeous sea cucumber, just the same as its name, “red apple”. It’s a pity that I did not meet its “flowering” state (when it stretches tentacles to catch plankton). If I had a chance to see its flower, I will upload it to iNat again!
As Shu-Chen says, these creatures are sea cucumbers, although we use a different vegetative term to describe them (apple) due to their more round shape than your standard sea cucumber. The “flowering” behavior she describes is how the creature catches plankton, by extending its frilly tentacles into the water. And like many other sea cucumbers, violet sea apples can expel parts of their sticky innards into the water when threatened, allowing a predator to concentrate on its entrails rather than the rest of its body. If that doesn’t work, they also have two tricks up their sleeves: they can release a toxin known as holothurin (a type of saponin) into the water, and they can also ingest water, allowing them to double in size and use currents and gravity to sweep them to a new home.
Shu-Chen (above) has recently joined iNaturalist, and says
my photos of nature were just silently stored in my own computer disks in the past, but since I learned about iNaturalist platform, and that observation data uploaded to iNaturalist would become part of GBIF data, I’m so glad that they could be used and studied by other people around the world…I also use iNaturalist to create species checklist at the place where I care and concern. It is really convenient to have iNaturalist to record nature observations, and it motivates me to collect more data.