Creature Feature: Salish Sea Horse? Bay pipefish! Syngnathus leptorhynchus

If you join our sea creature neighbors for a swim in the Salish Sea, you might not stay in for too long. These cold waters are often for animals with layers of warm, waterproof feathers or thick blubber to keep them toasty, but they’re also home to the cousins of the tropical-dwelling seahorse. The bay pipefish is this month’s creature feature, and they’re the Salish Sea’s own version of a Seahorse. They share the same order with seahorses, Syngnathiformes. Syngnathiformes means joined (syn)-jaw (gnath) form (formes) because their tiny, toothless and tubular mouths don’t open wide.

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Mira Lutz
Salish Sea Heroes: Ms. Ross' 1st-2nd Challenge class at Island View Elementary

These 1st-2nd Grade students from Mrs. Ross’ Class at Island View Elementary in Anacortes, WA turned into Salish Sea explorers to investigate a very important issue in the Salish Sea: forage fish spawning success. As we saw in the last Salish Sea Heroes feature, some forage fish, like surf smelt, spawn right on the beach. They need shade and just the right mix of sand and gravel to survive to hatch, then swim away on a high tide.

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Mira Lutz
Creature Feature: Pacific spiny lumpsucker

It is really hard to pick one Salish Sea creature to feature when the sea is teeming with awesome species! I had to narrow it down, though, and this month’s creature is none other than everyone’s favorite fish, the Pacific spiny lumpsucker! If it is not yet your favorite fish, I will have to assume that is because you have yet to meet one. Allow me to introduce you!

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Mira Lutz
Salish Sea Heroes: Conway and La Conner 8th grade Scientists

These Grade 8 students turned into marine biologists to tackle a very important issue in the Salish Sea: beach restoration. Twenty nine percent, or nearly 1/3, of Puget Sound has seawalls to prevent erosion of shorelines and the homes and businesses above them. This is called shoreline armoring and seems like a great idea, unless you depend on the beach for habitat.

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Creature Feature: North American River Otter

Unlike sea otters, river otters burrow into hillsides near the water to make cozy dens where they sleep and where females have their litters of pups. Females give birth to 1-4 pups after 63 days of embryo development. But that could be more than a year after mating! Otters have the unusual ability to delay embryo implantation in the womb for 8-10 months, perhaps to wait for the easiest pup-rearing conditions.

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Creature Feature: Southern Resident Killer Whales!

Did you know that not all killer whales are the same? They might look similar, but some eat marine mammals, others eat sharks, and others eat salmon!

The salmon-eaters are called Southern Resident Killer Whales and only about 70 of them are left in the world! They could go extinct if we don’t help keep their waters clean and quiet.

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