Not going to lie: False bay was a hoot. Though I spent more time chasing after safety buddy Mike through marginally-higher-than-boot-high waters (Mike was, in turn, chasing after ducks) than learning about polychaetes or stinky mud from the tag-along expert Kelly, I can still confidently say that I Did Science during our midnight lab last week. The highlight of my night was, by far, stumbling upon Kate and Sean just after their discovery of potentially the cutest gilled critter I know: the Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker (Eumicrotremus orbis). I won’t hesitate to call the Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker (which also has one of the silliest marine names, let’s be honest) my favorite-est little Lumpsucker that ever there was. While living in Seattle, I spend four hours a week volunteering at the Seattle aquarium, and try every week to make the rounds to visit the corner tank of lumpsuckers, just to see their ridiculous-ness in action. Too cute.
Anyway, I decided to do a bit of follow-up on Kate and Sean’s discovery, to figure out exactly what Mr/Miss Lumpsucker was doing there in those mudflats last Tuesday. Turns out that Pacific Spiny Lumpsuckers (hereafter simply reffered to as Lumpsuckers), not being strong swimmers due to their cylindrical body shape and relatively tiny fins, spend most of their time camoflauged in eel grass or attached to rocky or muddy substrates. For this purpose, they use their modified pelvic fins, which have the unique property of being able to stick onto hard surfaces. Ours were free-swimming through the little clumps of eelgrass far out, near the surft. They feed on sessile inverts–so ours must have been in lumpsucker heaven!
Thanks, Kate and Sean, for this fun find.
PS I tried to upload a picture of our little friend, but I received a fatal error (out of memory) instead…help?