Mantis Shrimp


Rikke Jeppesen, Estuarine Ecologist here at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve spotted this huge mantis shrimp while out with the Estuary Explorers.

According to Rikke: It was a gigantic mantis shrimp. It is rare in Southern California, so it may have come up here with the warm waters of El Nino. The species is Pseudosquillopsis marmorata, and according to a book about shrimp and crabs: “It emerges at night to prey on bivalves and other organisms that are smashed by blows from the claws.”

Fat Innkeeper Worms on local beaches

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Fat Inkeeper Worms usually live in burrows in the mud in Elkhorn Slough but they were recently spotted on local beaches.

Our researchers confirmed that this seems to happen every few years, always after really strong king
tides.  “They show up on area beaches.  Our best guess is that there are erosional events that collapse innkeeper burrows and sweep them out to sea.”

For more about these events check out this article from the Sanctuary:


Thanks to Christina Salvin for sending in these pictures.

Exploring the Mud Flats

While the humpback whales are still delighting the masses out on the Bay, the mud flats of the Slough are putting on a show of their own with each outgoing tide.  Monterey County Weekly ran a great piece about exploring the Slough’s flats with two of our own – Research Coordinator, Kerstin Wasson and ESF’s Development and Communications Manager Scott Nichols.

Elkhorn’s wet world of vampiric feasts, horny hummers and slimy orgies. – Monterey County Weekly: 831 (Tales).


Mudflat Critters

Researchers from the Reserve shared some photos of the critters they encountered while conducting their oyster monitoring on Friday.

The Pacific Herring leapt out of the water near the South Marsh footbridge and died minutes later (in the water), maybe as a result of a of  super low tide coinciding with an oxygen low.


This siphon belongs to a Washington Clam.


This sea slug (Navanax sp.) trio we saw were at the Jetty Rd mudflats.



The tile with all the Olympia oysters was the maximum density of oysters we saw (at Whistlestop Lagoon, on the tidal side).



This week we had our first rain of the year and this is what the trails looked like the next morning.  Pillbugs!  You know, rolly pollies.

This shot was taken by Dave Feliz our Reserve Manager 10/12/12.


Friday, September 9
by Rikke Kvist Preisler, Estuarine Ecologist at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

While doing fish surveys in the slough, she and her crew found a squid.

According to the “Changes in a California Estuary” book, the market
squid, Loligo opalescens is on the slough invert species list. The
reference is “Nybakken, personal communication”.

Elkhorn Slough Nudibranch

This beautiful sea slug was found in the Slough.  The photo was sent in from Linda Jordan – an Elkhorn Slough Reserve Docent.

It is Phyllaplysia taylori – an eelgrass specialist.

sea slug

Sheep Crab washed up in South Marsh

A giant sheep crab carapace washed up in South Marsh. Probably the biggest crab you’ve ever seen!

Connie and Kerstin found it washed up in South Marsh of Elkhorn Slough, but no doubt in life it lived offshore.

Rikke keyed it out as a sheep crab, Loxorhynchus grandis. Below is a link to a bit of information on this species from the MB Aquarium’s website.