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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Colorful Creatures

Ron and Mrs, Newton discovered these colorful creatures today with Cara and her mother. Do you know the name of these creatures? More importantly, can you guess where these were discovered?

Monday, April 17, 2006

An Open and Shut Mystery

This sea creature has a soft body and wears a shell. The part of the creature you see helps to protect the soft parts of the animal. It also helps the animal avoid drying out if the tide goes out, leaving it out of water for awhile. To what creature does this belong? What is this part?

Maybe this photo will help. While Ron was visiting, he borrowed a larger shell from Mrs. Taylor's class to show us how the little piece works.
Mrs. Newton

"Back" to a Mystery

These backs are to a creature I think you will guess quickly. But the real mystery is why do you think I am seeing so many of these backs right now?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mystery from "Down Under"

Our friends in Australia heard that we are studying Australian animals and sent this photo.
Clue: This is a sleepy fuzzy creature with a pouch.

Do you know the animal Lucy is holding?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Whale sounds

this is an audio post - click to play

These are whale sounds that were recorded by a friend of Ron's in Sitka, Alaska.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Blue" Whales Mystery

From Mrs. Newton:
We just received a wonderful package from our friends at Tussing Elementary in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. This little whale sculpture is made of what most people would consider to be "trash." Yet, when put together, these become treasures that remind us that whales and all living things are depending on us to conquer the huge problem of what to do with trash.

From Ron:
Yours is one of two whales made by Tussing students last fall. I had the honor of delivering the other whale to Diane Shimizu's class at Wilcox Elementary in Lihue on the island of Kaua'i in Hawai'i. Diane's students told me that the whale encouraged them to pick up trash along the beach. We hope to make a big whale with them for their island.

Our question to you: What can you do to help save our friends the whales or to save our own environments?

More from Mrs. Newton's Class:
Your whale from Ohio and the ideas from Hawai'i gave us lots of ideas of how to help the whales and our environment. See the comments page to learn about how we "adopted" 2 Hawaiian whales and about their names, Malama and Kai.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Can You See Me Now?" Creature

Hidden in the coral, search for the creature with its tail wrapped on the branches to hold it in place. What creature is "lurking" there?

Images copyrighted to John Hoover at http://www.hawaiisfishes.com Many thanks to John.

MOST Mysterious Creature #3

MOST Mysterious Creature #3:
This creature hides on the soft coral it feasts upon.
A mollusk, you might be surprised if you get to see its hidden shell.
What is this creature?

Image copyrighted to John Hoover at http://www.hawaiisfishes.com Many thanks to John.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sea Creature Babies

These are babies of a sea creature that has ten legs when it grows up. Mrs. Newton's students saw this when they looked through a hand lens. Whose babies are these?

The picture on the right, is one that looks a lot like what we could see with the microscope. But our babies were brownish red.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The MOST Mysterious Creatures

John Hoover and I have a book in progress on Mystery Sea Creatures. We will be sending many of John's wonderful photos,from that work, your way.

MOST Mysterious Creature #1:
My best clue to finding this sea creature is that it has gone fishing. I hope the kids have fun searching for this amazing undersea creature. I can also say that this creature is so incredible, it has a body that is kind of like a plastic bag in that it can swallow prey larger than itself.
Aloha, Ron
Congratulations to the Australian students at Riverland who have already identified this one!!!


Most Mysterious Creature #2:

You need to be very careful when reaching your hand into crevices. A spine from
this sea creature can be a danger.
From the Deep Blue Sea, Ron
All images in this post are copyrighted to John Hoover at
http://www.hawaiisfishes.com Many thanks to John.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mammal Mystery

Can you see the tracks? Some are dogs that came to inspect the tracks and others are made by our most abundant sea mammal. This mammal swam along the shore, walked up onto the sandy beach on all fours and scraped to make a small scent mound of sand. Its tracks show five toes. That is the best clue I can give except to also say this sea mammal is often mistaken, all along our coast, for yet another sea mammal.

I think you will be both surprised and happy to know this mammal lives in the sea. It is a mammal I know well and one that eats salmon, ling cod, crabs, star fish, sculpins, and many freshwater animals since it also swims up rivers and streams. I do believe it even swims now or at one time in the Whitewater River!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Spy Creatures!

I talked with Tammy Yee, the illustrator of Swimming With Humuhumu, about your blog and how fun it would be to have illustrations you can explore. This one, shows a young snorkeler diving down to a coral reef.

My question is this:

How many "Sea Animals" can you find in this
Look carefully, some
animals may not be as obvious as creatures on the land.
Aloha, Ron

Let's create a list of creatures you find. Ron tells me there are more than 12! (Click on the thumbnail of the illustration to get a larger picture.) Mrs. Newton

You have found 9 different types of sea creatures so far? Can you find the other three?
1. Red Sea Stars - Spotted Linckia
2. Blue Sea Stars - Green Linckia
3. Blue Fin Trevally - Papios
4. Reef Triggerfish - Humuhumu
5. Threadfin Butterfly Fish
6. Red Pencil Urchin
7. Milletseed Butterfly Fish
8. Snorkeler - Human
9. Coral
10. ?
11. ?
12. ?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spiral Poetry

This new sea creature is one you might guess fairly quickly. But look at this and wonder what part of the animal this belongs to. Hold it up to the sun to see how beautifully it spirals.

The sea creature this belongs to has a sharp radula. I know some of the animals it eats, but I don't know much about the food chains leading to its mouth. Maybe you can teach me once you learn who this is...

And I wonder if you could write a poem about this sea creature.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Legend

This is a very,very old shell of one of our most legendary clams. When alive, it has two of these. So we call them bi-valves. "Bi" meaning two and "valves" meaning shells.

Every student in Washington State learns a song about this clam because it is the state clam. My daughter learned it in 2nd grade. I dig them and many of my Indian friends make their living diving for them. They sell them to Japan where this clam is even more highly regarded as food in America.
Two questions:
* Can you guess its name?
* More importantly, can you pronounce its name the way we do out here on the coast?
Your friend, Ron

Can you find the words to the song that Ron's daughter learned?
Mrs. Newton

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Whale of a Good Time!

Dear Ron and other friends in Australia, Montana, Hawaii, Ohio, and across the Internet...
We have been scratching our "skulls" long and hard over the last mystery. We think it is time for a different type of mystery. While not scientific, these may cause some critical thinking:^)
We are posting some of our favorite whale jokes. But here's the rub...
Anyone who answers a joke, must reply with a new whale or sea life joke. I'll begin...
"Where do whales sleep?" ______________
Remember to answer a joke, you must supply a new one to keep the "wave" of fun rolling!
Mrs. Newton and her 1st Graders

A "Fishy" Mystery

This is a tough one. I don't expect you to get the complete answer, but I will give you some clues and ask you to make this an ART MYSTERY CREATURE. This is the first of your vertebrates, meaning it is an animal with a backbone. This creature has sharp teeth, as you can tell. When alive, it can swim and has fins. Two long fins on its back would help you with its exact identity. Its skull is made of bone, not cartilage. One of the largest Pacific Northwest bony fish, it grows to 5 feet in length. It is a favorite food of sea lions and people. It lives on and near the sea floor and likes to eat octopus and other fish.
The artful part of this:
Can you draw a picture of what you think this sea creature looks like?
From the shore, Ron

This drawing, by Cara,is one of the pictures that were created in response to this mystery.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rice Creatures, oh my!

Here is another challenge for you. This yellow mass of what looks like a bunch of rice is hooked onto rocks. Can you guess what this is?
Good Luck,
Ron Hirschi

Friday, February 24, 2006

Plunger Creatures?

I'm thinking this is the toughest sea creature mystery ever. This is a very important part of the life of a sea creature that is common along the northeastern Pacific shore. People who first see this on the beach think it looks like a plunger. It is smooth and rubbery to the touch. It is never completely round, always a partly completed circle. It is about as big around as, maybe two CDs. I found this one on a pebble beach, but they are usually found in sandy beaches.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mystery Creature #4

Here is a tough mystery. This creature was photographed by my wife after she had been stung by the main food of this small, but incredibly beautiful creature. It usually lives far out at sea. The photo was taken in shallow water, over coarse sand just after a storm blew lots of its prey in close to shore. This animal gets its color from its prey. It is a relative of the triton trumpet, so is yet another animal with no backbone.
Your friend,

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.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Mountain Mystery...

I thought you might like to have a Washington State mystery question........We are known for our rain, but did you know Washington is also the snowiest place on earth! The mountain in the distance is north of our island, across the water, and up in the Cascade Mountain Range. I think it is the most beautiful mountain in our state. A couple of years ago it snowed 40 feet on this mountain. Do you know its name?

Your Friend, Ron

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

Monday, February 06, 2006

There is Only One, Big, Blue Ocean

Many of the things that end up on the beach were actually thrown into a river, many many miles from the sea! Pollution of the ocean happens hundreds, even thousands of miles from the ocean.

Did you know if you go down to the Whitewater and touch the surface of the river that you are also touching the ocean? Even small streams near your homes flow into the Whitewater which flows into the _____________ which flows into the _______________ which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

And this is the amazing part to me. That water in your river is connected,without anything separating it, to ALL the oceans on earth. Imagine. You can see this by looking at the blue on a globe ---- See how there is only One big blue Ocean. Pretty cool!

That is why all of us need to be very thoughtful about how we live our lives. We all live downstream from others, and those who live downstream from us depend on our taking care of the water in our neighborhoods.

What can you do to keep this one ocean safe for all living things?
Your Friend,

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Look What Else I Found on the Beach...

Tonight when I walked along the beach, I picked up a broken fishing net, a
lot of plastic bottles, some cigarette lighters, a golf ball, and a lot of
styrofoam. It is sad to see this end up on the beach and to see it floating
on the waves where it can do serious harm to some animals.
Your Friend,

Friday, February 03, 2006

We Think We Know the Creature's Name!

Dear Ron,
We think we solved the mystery!
Here are the clues:
It is a cousin to a clam & octopus.
It has 8 plates; 2 are smaller.
It is an invertebrate - no backbone.
It is a Mollusk.
The Trumpet Shell is a cousin.
The plates are part of its outer shell.
You called them armor. You gave us another clue in your picture. The Sea Creature
lives near a rocky beach.
Mrs. Newton's Class

The Creature's Habitat

This is the beach where the sea creature lived. It is on Marrowstone Island in western Washington and as you can see, the picture was taken on a very stormy, wet and rainy Northwest Day!

What kind of animals might live in this habitat?
Your friend,

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another Clue!

Here is a really big Trumpet Shell. I'm sending it to you because it is a distant relative of the mystery sea creature I sent to you. The trumpet is a shell. It is also a snail. It is also a member of a really big group of sea creatures called Mollusks.
One fun thing is that if you carefully hold this trumpet shell next to your ear, you can hear the ocean!!!!!
Your friend, Ron

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Mystery Begins...

Tonight while I was walking on the beach, I found this and thought I would send it to you as a natural science mystery question.

This is from a sea animal. In its body, there are 8 of these "plates." Two of the plates are a little smaller and more rounded on their ends. This sea creature is related to the clam and the octopus.
Can you guess what this sea creature looks like? Even better, can you discover what sea creature this belongs to?
Your friend, Ron