Investigation of the Fishy Family of Rocky and Sandy Lintertide

OPERATION FINDING NEMO: to investigate the curious case of the missing Disney clownfish.

Suspects: The Lintertide family of Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island.

Photo credit: Sarah Ho

Photo credit: Sarah Ho

The following suspect profiles present gathered findings from on-site investigation on October 24, 2014 at low tide.

Rocky the Dad
With his rocks stretched along the beach, dad stands against the crashing waves of the sea, offering protection for his family. Most of the invertebrate offspring in the Lintertide family stick closer to dad. At low tide, his rocks provide shade from sunlight. His uneven terrain creates tide pools where many animals and algae find refuge from the water-thirsting air. However, do not be deceived by his seemingly heroic character. Suspect can potentially use tide pools to trap innocent fish exploring the area, unaware of time, and cutting the fish off from the ocean with one retreating tide.

Sandy the Mom
Enjoys collecting dead algae washed up by tidal waves. Not a threat.

Shore crabs
Anti-social. Hide under rocks most of the time. Uncooperative with our investigation as they scurry away when rocks are removed.

Limpets
Suffer from extreme paranoia. Seal themselves between their shell and the surface of a rock in fear of any predators… or perhaps the investigation team? Possibly guilty.

Barnacles
Barnacles think too highly of themselves. They sit in the higher zone on rocks looking down on most other species. Little do they suspect of the attack mussels plot against them.

Mussels
Mussels claim the zone just below the territory of barnacles. They huddle close to one another, secretly plotting a conspiracy to take over the intertidal zone. With their competitive abilities, they could probably succeed, if it wasn’t for their archenemy ― the sea star.

Sea star
“Keystone species”, meaning that they play a crucial role in the ecosystem. Sea stars eat mussels to satisfy their stomachs, and at the same time doing the ecosystem a huge favour by preventing mussel numbers from exploding. We only spotted a few sea stars during our visit. It is suspected that sea stars at Barkley Sound are suffering from a mysterious wasting syndrome where the symptoms begin with white lesions appearing on the surface of the sea star, soon worsening to decaying tissue. The sea star becomes limp and arms may begin to twist and fall off, ultimately escalating to the disintegration of the whole animal.

Photo credit: Sarah Ho

Photo credit: Sarah Ho

To learn more about detective work on sea star wasting syndrome: http://www.newsweek.com/pacific-starfish-die-continues-there-new-hope-271864

Sea anemones
When submerged in water, these sea anemones are open like a flower. It feels sticky to your finger when touching a tentacle, but it is actually the anemone’s mad attempt to fire tiny stingers in defense. While sea anemones and clownfish are known to live together in harmony, these ones are too busy looking pretty.

Photo credit: Sarah Ho

Photo credit: Sarah Ho

No report of any clownfish sightings, live or dead, at Barkley Sound. The Lintertide family is so far innocent. Just an ordinary intertidal family… with a lot of family issues.

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