Can you help identify this marine invertebrate?
by Nicole Carlozo -- February 2nd, 2015
Reality: Species identification becomes problematic when your love for the environment yields computer time instead of field time.
A few nights ago, I received an “urgent” text message from my Uncle. He was writing from the intracoastal waterway in the Florida Panhandle. Embedded in his message with was the following video and question:
“What is this creature?”
Sadly, my marine invertebrate knowledge failed me. I blame too much time in front of ArcMap and too little time in the field getting my hands dirty (or on the beach soaking in the sun).
My Uncle then went on to describe the “hundreds of clear worms” that were swimming along the water’s surface. When held in his hand, they turned to a mushy jelly-like consistency. The largest was 5 to 6 inches long. Upon further inquiry, he relayed that a team of marine biologists were currently dredging up oyster shells nearby. They will soon be relocated to my backyard – the Chesapeake Bay – to support oyster restoration efforts. Whether the dredging and sudden “worm” appearance are related, we don’t know. What we do know is that someone out there must recognize these creatures.
In the past I’ve posted numerous nature blogs focused on specific terrestrial and marine species. Today I’m posting a mystery creature and asking for your help. Please let me know if you can identify this marine invertebrate!