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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Second Sea Creature Mystery Begins

This is one of the most abundant animals that lives at the edge of the sea. It is one of the most amazing too. When it is just a baby, it swims and drifts on the waves. Many of them have three eyes! As they grow, they settle to the sea floor where they use a kind of cement and paste their heads onto a rock!

Some of them paste themselves onto WHALES! Gray whales can have as many as 100 pounds of these small creatures riding on them. Beaked whales even have them on their teeth!

When I was in grade school, I spent time in summer scraping these sea creatures off of the bottom of my row boat> They would stick to the bottom and slow it down.

Even though these animals have a kind of shell, it is not realted to the snails! It is more closely realted to the crabs and shrimp...Have fun. Can you guess this creature?

Your friend, Ron


At February 07, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. N's student said...

Dear Ron,
Were their eyes in the little end? Why does it stink?

At February 07, 2006, Anonymous Ashleigh said...

Dear Ron,
I think what you sent us is a barnacle. I think so because I've memorized the look and I've read a nonfiction book about one. I think what you have sent us before is pretty cool! I hope I got it or at least got close.
Your friend, Ashleigh

P.S. I am a student in Mrs. Taylor's second grade.

At February 07, 2006, Anonymous ron said...


What a great question! What you are smelling is the scent of the sea. A lot of people think this is a bad odor, but much of the life of the sea comes from plants and animals washing around after they die. Mixed with the salty odor, this is what you smell on almost any walk along the shore!

As for their eyes....No, the small end of this creature is where its feet sort of kick around, bringing food into the body. When this creature was alive, it also had some very sharp, pointy coverings that protected the frilly feet.

If you walk on rocks and this creature happens to have that pointy part stickin up, you can get a cut on bare hands or feet!

From the Island, Ron

At February 09, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. Taylor's 2nd Grade said...

Dear Ron,
We are really excited about the shells you have sent to Mrs. Newton's class. Some of us think we have figured out the last mystery but we are doing some more research about it. We have some questions for you. Our teacher and some of our classmates have many shells and also some fossils. We are comparing them. We found out that our area was once covered by a shallow sea. That's why there are lots of fossils around here. Do you find any fossil shells where you live? We found a picture of a spiny oyster shell (also called a chrysanthemum) that we think is really cool. Have you ever found one of those? We also have some conchs, but found a picture of a scorpion conch that we like too. Have you seen one of those? We found a picture that showed the conch's eyes. How cool! We are very anxious to meet you. We have been reading some of your books that were in our library and we want to read some more! Mrs. Taylor's Class

At February 09, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Hello to Everyone in Mrs Taylor's Class!

It was great to hear from you and to know you are looking at fossils from the Indiana ocean. I spend a lot of time walking along streams in Ohio and have found fossils there and in Montana. I wonder if the same sea covered both Indiana and Ohio?

Yes, we do find fossils here. My favorite sits on my desk. It is a sand dollar. We have oysters, but not spiny oysters and no conch shells. Those must be great fossils!

We do have scallop fossils and living scallops. They are one of my favorite animals. Their eyes are amazing, so if you are having fun taking a look at conch eyes, try to find some photos of the scallop's shimmering eyes. They snap their shells and swim when your hand when you reach into the water to try to touch them!

Have fun identifying Mystery Creature 2.

At February 14, 2006, Anonymous Ashleigh said...

Dear Ron,
I thought I knew what the mystery was, but I have been doing more research to make sure. I also have a few questions. Does it change form as it grows? Is the shell in divisions that overlap and when shut, are protective? Do some species resist drying and are found above the low-tide mark? I think I know what the species is. Is it a rock barnacle? Please email us back! Your friend, Ashleigh in second grade

At February 15, 2006, Anonymous ron hirschi said...

Ashleigh in Second Grade,

You have done your research well, found the answer, and taught others about this sea creature! Thank you for your great work. It is a rock barnacle. One of the most unusual things about the barnacle is how much it does change. It looks a lot like a baby crab when it is first born, but you wouldn't think it was related to the crab and lobster as an adult. Lots of sea creatures go through those amazing changes because, as little ones, they drift on the sea before settling onto a rock or reef. Have fun with the next sea mystery, coming soon!

Your Friend, Ron

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

This is a hard mystery. We have a mystery for you.I wonder want it is.

At February 17, 2006, Anonymous Mrs. Newton's class said...

While looking at this creature, we dropped it and the shell broke into 4 pieces. We were upset, but then began to discover things about the creature.There was a spot on the broken shell that looks like blood. It reminds us of our teeth when they fall out and have a spot of blood on them. Do you think this was blood in the shell?

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

Dear Ron,
Is the volcano creature a barnacle? because my grandpa spilled the beans. He was not supposed to do that!
A creature finder,

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

We were looking in one of MRs. N's books and found a bay barnacle. Is this a bay barnacle? We found out that barnacles have 6 pairs of legs - that is 12!

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

Mrs. N's students,

You all ask such interesting questions. Some of them are pretty tough and I will have to send them to scientist friends of mine for answers.

I'm glad you all figured out that this creature is a barnacle. We all call it a Giant Barnacle but the scientific name is Balanus cariosus.
You are right about it having six pairs of legs. They are also called cirri and are really cool to watch underwater. The legs look like feathers and swirl to bring food into the mouth of the barnacle.

My favorite barnacle is called the gooseneck barnacle. We sometimes eat them in a Northwest clambake, steaming them in a pit on the beach along with oysters and steamer clams. I learned this way of feasting from my S'Klallam Indian friends, people I grew up with and work for to protect their Northwest Coast Indian ocean resources.

From the shore, Ron

At March 06, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ron, my name is lauren. i had just got back from camping near the beach when i peered into a barnecle shell my mom and i freaked out we saw a few cretures sticking curly tounge-like sticks holly cow! the creture is in my cup right now with sea salt and sand what do theese cretures look like? -lauren ps.i am not from this elementrey school you visited my teachers name is mrs. hucthcraft thanks :-).

At March 12, 2007, Anonymous Ron said...

Those deals sticking out are its legs and they use them to kick in the water to stir food into their mouth. Kind of like a soccer team on its head, kicking up in the air until a pizza happens by.....

ps I'm in Ohio writing a whale journey book with kids at Tussing. FUN



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