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Friday, February 17, 2006

Mystery Creature #3

I have been wondering what to send you next. I couldn't figure out how to send an octopus through the mail and all of the slippery eels just kept slipping back into the sea...
This sea creature is an invertebrate, an animal with no backbone. As you can see, it does have beautiful and quite strong body armor. When it is alive it might be red, purple, or green. Some very special moving parts fit onto all those bumps, but I will leave that up to you to figure out what they look like and how the creature uses them.
I can tell you that the creature has 5 teeth that fit into the mouth opening on the bottom.


At February 17, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. N's students said...

Wow, we can really see the teeth in the mouth!

Do the bumps protect the creture from predators?

Are legs connected to the bumps?

Is this related to an anemone?

At February 17, 2006, Anonymous Ron Hirschi said...

Once you figure out what the creature is, you will learn how it plays one of the most dramatic roles of any sea creature in shaping its habitat. When I walked along the beach last night, I did not see a single living kelp plant, one of the creature's favorite foods... Could they have eaten all of their food supply and vanished?

At February 17, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. N's students said...

Dear Ron,
We didn't know what "kelp" was, so Mrs. N found a picture of it on the Internet. Kelp looks like trees under water!!!

At February 17, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Dustin, Mireka, Brady, and Noah:

This creature uses its teeth to scrape seaweeds like kelp from the rocks. Those bumps you can see don't protect it from predators, but they do have predator protectors hooked onto the bumps when this animal is alive.

This might sound kind of silly, but some of the bumps have feet hooked onto them! No legs, but feet........And, no, Noah.....this creature isn't related to an anemone but a very thoughtful question!

From the shore, Ron

At February 17, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Mrs. N's Students,

Yes, kelp does grow beneath the sea like a forest on land. Their leaves are brown from a distance, but up close they sparkle purple, blue, red, and green.....The photo of the beach where I am collecting the shells and other sea creatures used to have a kelp forest. But it has disappeared and we don't know why. With help from many people, including local schools, I'm trying to bring back the kelp forest because it is so very valuable to many sea creatures, including Humpback Whales.

When my Grandmother was a little girl, Humpback Whales were the most common whale along our shore. Now they are so rare. One reason is the loss of the kelp forest.

There is a lot to this story of ecology of kelp forests and whales. We can learn more about it by studying each of the sea creatures in this mystery! Maybe you kids can help solve some of the bigger mysteries of how to help all these creatures live healthy lives!

From the shore, Ron

At February 18, 2006, Blogger Mrs. Newton said...

Did your grandmother ever talk about hearing the humpbacks' songs? I read a book a long time ago abou the songs of the humpbacks. That has always been something I have wanted to hear!!!
Mrs. N.

At February 18, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Mrs. N,

I really liked thinking about your question and comment because it helped me think of my Grandma. I don't think she heard Humpback Whales but I think she saw them.

I am sending by mail some better ways of answering this.......something that a very special whale biologist gave to me to share with kids. Her name is Jan Straley. She is one of the first people to listen to female Humpback Whales singing. Thanks to the kids at Tussing Elementary in Ohio, Jan was able to place a whale listening station into the sea near Sitka, Alaska. This broadcasts, 24 hours a day from an underwater microphone on an FM radio station. Jan wanted people to hear the whales. She also wants people to hear what the whales are forced to listen to and be confused by.....the sounds of ships.

So, look forward to some recordings from Jan Straley. Maybe we can put them on the site so others can hear?

From the shore, Ron

At February 19, 2006, Blogger Mrs. Newton said...

I found the book. It is called The Whales' Song by Dyan Sheldon. It begins..."Once upon a time, the ocean was filled with whales. They were as big as the hills. They were as peaceful as the moon." I will read it to the class on Monday. I hope you can find the book too. I think it will remind you of your grandmother!
Mrs. N.

At February 20, 2006, Blogger Mrs. Newton said...

The creature looks like a porcupine. A porcupine has quills. Does the sea creature have quills? Are the quills purple, green, or red? In a shell sea book, we saw a purple sea urchin. Have we solved the mystery yet? is this a pruple sea urchin?
Mrs. N's students

At February 20, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. N's student said...

Dear Ron,
Does this animal live by the deep sea?
By Brady

At February 20, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. N's student said...

Dear Ron,
Is a starfish a cousin to the new creature? I think it is. by Katlyn

At February 20, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Katlyn, Brady, and Mrs N's students!

You are good. Yes, this is a relative of the starfish, it does have spines that are like quills on a porcupine, but it doesn't live in the deepest sea. It lives near the shore, often in kelp forests.

Yes, this is a sea urchin. I am told that British people used to call Hedgehogs "urchins" and that is where this name came from. When alive with all their spines, they do look like a hedgehog.

Here on the Pacific Coast, the urchin is very very valuable. Japanese people like to eat urchins and pay divers in the Northwest a lot of money for the urchins. Human divers and (in some places) sea otters harvest the urchins. This helps the kelp forest to grow because when there are lots of urchins, they can actually eat the entire kelp forest!

The urchins I sent to you are from Hawaii where there are no kelp forests and no sea otters. The urchins I sent you are called Rock Boring Urchin because, over time, their sharp spines cut holes into the rocks, giving the urchin a safe place to live.

From the Shore, Ron

At February 20, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. N's student said...

Dear Ron,
We saw the teeth of the new
creature.It was exciting.
I like the new creature.
It is fun to answer you.
What do whales sounds like? Do they really sound like singing?
from Dawson Vest

At February 21, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Dear Dawson,

You know how it is when you listen to other people sing. Some people sing way down low. Some people sing way up high. Some people maybe shouldn't sing at all.....It is the same with whales. Singing whales sometimes use their voices to keep in touch with other whales. To keep in touch with you, I am going to the Post Office right now to send you some tapes of whales singing. I hope you enjoy hearing them! Let me know what you think.

Your Friend, Ron Hirschi

At February 21, 2006, Anonymous Austin M. 2nd grade said...

I think it is a sea urchin. Sea urchins live in North and South American waters. Sea urchins can be all colors. They often match thir surroundings. The mouth is at the base of the body so the sea urchin can feed as it moves along. Close up you can see the tube feet waving around. There is an opening at the top. It is called anus.

At February 21, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...


You are right. And you taught others about the urchin too. You reminded me that urchins aren't just red and purple and green, but they come in lots of colors.

I learned another thing about urchins this morning. The Butterflyfish called the Forcepsfish has a long snout. With the long nose, it can reach between the spines of an urchin and eat its little feet! Ouch!

You might also know about the Humuhumu nukunuku apua'a. Their eyes are way back and away from their mouth. This helps them eat urchins and not get their eyes poked.

Your Friend, Ron Hirschi

At March 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashley O.

Its a sea urchin!

At March 22, 2006, Blogger Sara Kibbey said...

It is a sea Urchin!!!


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