Under the Sea
Porifera - The Sponges
Red Beard Sponge Microciona prolifera - a right red to orange colored branching sponge found in the Chesapeake Bay.
Cnidaria - The Stinging Animals
Sea Whip Coral Leptogorgia virgulata - a soft branching coral that can be orange, purple, or yellow.
Atlantic Horseshoe Crab Limulus polyphemus - A large, prehistoric arthropod that is more like a spider than a crab! They have blue blood that is used in medical testing and a pointy tail that was used as a spear tip by native Americans. We have four that were collected in DE, and two more that were donated by a High school in Stafford Co., VA.
Grass Shrimp Palaemontes pugio - This small type of shrimp is often found hiding in grasses, hence the name. Like other shrimp, they have a spine that sticks out over their eyes, called rostrum, for protection.
Ivory Barnacle Ballanus ebuneus - Barnacles are small animals that sit on their head and eat microscopic food with their curled feet. They are most commonly recognized by their volcano-shaped shell.
Purse Crab Persephona punctata - These small, sand dwelling crabs get their name from the fact that they can fold down their abdomen which looks like a purse-like pocket.
Mud Crab Panopeus duorarum - Mud Crabs are very small crabs which only grow to about 1-2 across. They hide by burying in the mud or hiding under rocks or logs underwater. Ours were most collected in VA Bch.
Broad Clawed or Flat Clawed Hermit Crab Pagurus pollicaris - A hermit that has very flat claws that they use like a door to close their soft body inside of a snail shell they borrow.
Long-claw Hermit Crab Pagurus longicarpus - These guys don't get too large but they sure can walk fast! We have at least four that were collected in VA Bch.
Knobbed Whelk Busycon carica - The largest snail found in the Chesapeake Bay. Most are collected thirteen miles off VA Beach at the light tower. The specimen pictured has whelk eggs in front of it, referred to as a mermaid's necklace.
Veined Rappa Whelk Rapana venosa - This type of snail is actually from Japan. recently it has been appearing in the Chesapeake Bay, threatening the native species of snails like the Knobbed and Channeled Whelk.
Tulip Snail Fasciolaria tulipa - The one we have is a true tulip - they have purple skin! Other tulip snails include the horse conch (orange skin) and the banded tulip snail (red skin).
Lightning Whelk Busycon contrarium - We have had one lightning whelk for at least 4 years. These guys get huge - about 16" in length when fully grown!
Mud Snail Ilyanassa obsoleta - Tons of these small, black snails seek out dead critters in the Chesapeake Bay, devouring them quickly. They only grow to 1/2".
Hard or Quahog Clam -Mercenaria mercenaria - These clams are often eaten by people. They are also called littleneck, cherrystone or chowder clams. Native Americans used the purple and white parts of the shell as wampum (money).
Mahogany or Black Quahog Clam Arctica islandica - A small clam found in the New England area.
American Oyster Crassostrea virginica - Oysters settle on top of other oysters, cementing their shells together, eventually forming an oyster reef. Today, the Chesapeake Bay is nearly devoid of oysters, containing only an estimated 1% of its historic numbers. This is due to decreasing water quality, over-fishing, and diseases.
Blue Mussel Mytilus edulis - A bivalve that is popular to eat! They produce byssal threads that help them hang onto rocks and other blue mussels, thus avoiding getting tossed up on the beach.
Blood Arc Anadara ovalis - A bivalve with hemoglobin.
Echinoderms are characterized by their spiny skin and pentagonal body designs. Although they appear to have radial symmetry, it is secondarily developed.
Common or Hairy Sea Cucumber Thyone briareus - A Chesapeake Bay inhabitant that likes to burrow in the sand. We have observed one inflating its body with water, looking a lot like a fuzzy rock.
Sand Dollar or Keyhole Urchin -Mellita quinquiesperforata - Keyhole Urchins are not true sand dollars, but they are actually flattened cousins of sea urchins. Keyhole urchins get their name from the opening, or keyhole, near the center of their shell.
Sea Squirt Molgula manhattensis - A tunicate that filters out plankton for dinner.
Lined Sea Horse Hippocampus erectus - One of ~34 species of sea horses, these fish grow to 6" long. They are voracious eaters since all sea horses lack a stomach! Our sea stable currently holds six from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Skilletfish Gobiesox strumosus - Found hanging out around oyster reefs, these little fish have a lot of character. Their pectoral fins are modified into a suction cup so they can latch onto their surroundings.
Feather Blenny Hypsoblennius hentz - Named for the feather-like appendages that stick out of the top of their head, these small fish are usually found in the same areas as Skillet fish. They are aggressive little guys that may remind you of a bull dog!
Clearnose Skate Raja eglanteria - This large ray is often caught by fishermen. Its tail is lined with sharp thorns, but lacks a long stinger characteristic of it's relatives, the stingrays.
Hogchoker Chrysiptera cyanea - Another flatfish that is basically a small flounder. More properly it is a type of sole. During the colonial days, pig farmers would try to feed this by catch to their animals, resulting in its now common name.