Category America – north – Pacific – temperate

California Sea Cucumber

Parastichopus californicus

The California sea cucumber, Parastichopus californicus, is found from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California, Mexico in the low inter-tidal zone down to 249 meters. This is the largest sea cucumber on the West Coast, up to 20in (50cm) in length when it is relaxed. When it is feeding this species is mobile, having tube feet on its ventral surface. Twenty tentacles at the anterior end of the body secrete a substance which aids in the capture of detritus and small organisms on sand and rock bottoms. The California sea cucumber is taken commercially in Southeast Alaska and Kodiak, and south along the West Coast. The California sea cucumber is in the Phylum Echinodermata and Family Stichopodidae.

Note: Many species of fish and plants are known by diff...

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Large kelps – giant and bull

Macrocystis and  Nereocystis luetkeana

Like huge fingers that disappear into the depths of the sea, the Giant Kelp Forests found in the waters off north America, are the rainforests of the sea.

Kelp leaves called fronds can grow up to 50 centimetres a day. Kelp forms dense canopies up to 35 metres above the seabed. Most of us eat kelp regularly, by consuming icecream or jelly. Products made from kelp are used to thicken these foods, and other products like toothpaste.

Held upright by gas-filled bladders at the base of leaflike blades, kelp fronds grow straight up to the surface, where they spread across the top of the water to form a dense canopy...

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Sebastes spp.

Rockfish are a diverse and important group of marine fishes, with over 70 different types to be found along the Northeast Pacific coast and over 100 worldwide. They come in a rainbow of colours, as evidenced by their names: Black Rockfish, Canary Rockfish, Yellowtail Rockfish, and so on.

They are members of the scorpion fish family, (Scorpaenidae), so it should be no great surprise that the spines on the fins are sometimes venomous, and skin punctures can be very painful. The different species enjoy a number of habitats. Some live in the rocky reefs, some linger within the canopy of the kelp forests, and some inhabit the deep seafloor. They are prevalent in every underwater habitat from the sub-tidal down across the continental shelf and beyond 8,000 feet deep...

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Kelp greenling

Hexagrammos decagrammus

The kelp greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus) grows to a length of 60 cm. The mouth is small, terminal and directed upwards. The upper jaw reaches the anterior point below the eye orbit. The snout is blunt with thickened lips and the moderate teeth are in rows on the sides of the jaws and in patches at the tip. The head is conical and compressed. It has one notched dorsal fin, a rounded caudal (tail) fin and an anal fin with one dorsal spine. There is an erectable cirrus (slender tentacle) above and behind each eye and a small pair of cirri in between the eyes and dorsal fin.

Males are brown to olive with blue or copper; blue spots on the head and anterior portion of body. Each blue spot has a round ring of reddish spots...

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Ophiodon elongatus

The body of the lingcod is elongate, tapering and only slightly compressed. The head is elongate and conical, the mouth is large with numerous large teeth. Lingcod are generally dark brown with lots of spots and blotches on the upper part of the body, but come in a variety of colours ranging from blue green to red brown.

They occur between Point San Carlos, Baja California, and Kodiak Island, Alaska. They are not abundant south of Point Conception except in a few localities. They live at or near the bottom, generally in close association with rocky areas and kelp beds, especially where there is a strong tidal movement...

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