February 22, 2019

Baffling Bluebottles

Physalia physalis which we have been using to ID the blueblottles found here does not exist here. Those are an animal that grows to 30 cm, a near full crest, and a large number of tentacles that can extend to 50 m and I am sure we will all agree that we have not seen anything that large in all of our bluebottle obs.

So what do we call ours? Well there seems to be four possible ID's for our ones.

Physalia utriculus (top left) has a single main fishing tentacle, a float with a high crest in the middle half of the float and long, cylindrical, tapering, posterior extension (right hand side). They can also have a bloated float.

Crested Bluebottle - Physalia sp1 (full crest) (top right) has one single main fishing tentacle, and a prominent crest along the full length of the float which does not stand up high like the Physalia utriculus crest, instead it shows more as "joins" as seen in the sample photo.

Barrel Bluebottle Physalia sp2 (no crest) (bottom left) has a single main fishing tentacle and no crest. The float is also smooth without any "joins" but you must turn the float to make sure that the "join" was not sand down.

Irukanji Bluebottle - Physalia sp3 (multi-tentacled) (bottom right) which has multiple main fishing tentacles. These are the long ones and we can see in the photo that there are at least 2 long ones.

The crest is the main thing to look at as what it is will eliminate most of the other species. Next would be the number of main fishing lines although it is really obvious when there is more than one.

Further Reading
This Obs with lots of korero
Flag for Physalia Genus
Photographing Bluebottles
Bluebottle Guide - Coming Soon

Posted on February 22, 2019 04:51 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 08, 2019

Distinguishing Glaucus atlanticus and Glaucilla bennettae

There are two species of Glaucus / Glaucilla that wash up on our shores and in some ways they are the stars of the blue fleet as they are not seen as much as the other members.

These float upside down, so what is visable when looking down into the water is actually the underside, while what is seen from being in the water looking up - usually just white / blue without the colour variations - is actually the dorsal, or top.

The sea swallow - Glaucus atlanticus can be identified by the two dark stripes with a silver strip inside them visable when they are floating in to water - this is the foot. G.atlanticus is larger, up to about 30mm, and also has a longer tail.

Glaucilla bennettae (old name Glaucus bennettae) has two dark stripes that are have a blue strip inside them, instead of silver . G.bennettae is smaller - about 12-15mm and the tail blends in with the "frilly bits". This species tends to have a "glitter look".

If you ever come across a washup take a close look at different Glaucus, as once you spot the difference they are easy to tell apart, even at a quick glance. Below is a photo with both of them so you can see easily the differences. What is showing is the underside of the creature, but this is what is seen from the top of the water.


Right: Glaucus atlanticus Left: Glaucilla bennettae

Most of Blue Fleet Welcomes Me Home is a journal post I have done about these.

Posted on February 08, 2019 02:50 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 31, 2019

Wow! Check out this Series of Photos of the Fleet

@indeynz has been lurking at home while I have been away and just put up these stunning photos of the fleet




Showing great details on the Dwarf Janthina Janthina exigua

View more Blue Fleet photos that Indeynz has just uploaded!

Posted on January 31, 2019 23:57 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 23, 2018

New Species Added for the Blue Fleet

The nudibranch Fiona pinnata is part of the blue fleet and there is one record of it found by @indeynz at Tapotupotu

The floatsman crab (Planes cyaneus) and the drifter crab (Planes marinus) are pelagic and also a part of the Blue Fleet, so I have added these to the project.


Flotsam Crab Planes cyaneus

We do not have many records of them, mainly at home and also one obs from Anawhata Beach recorded by @jacqui-nz

Something new to look out for :)

Posted on March 23, 2018 02:44 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 14, 2018

Blue Fleet Monitoring Southern Africa

How exciting! Here is another Blue Fleet project that monitors what lands where in Southern Africa.

Blue Community (s Afr)

It is interesting to see that the most observed species in both projects is the bluebottle, but the rest of the top 5 are in a different order with our Janthina exigua (number 4 on our list) not recorded in that project, or anywhere else in the world apart from our little country :)

However, they do have the Argonaut in their project, so I will have to do more research and if that is a part of the Blue Fleet I can add in the 9 obs we already have recorded of the Knobby Argonaut (Argonauta nodosa) found in NZ. Would you say that is a part of the Blue Fleet @clinton?

Posted on March 14, 2018 11:09 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 2 comments | Leave a comment

October 14, 2017

Mass Washups of By the Wind Sailors

It seems that at the moment there are mass washups of By the Wind Sailors on the West Coast of New Zealand.

- 7 Oct 2017, Foxton - https://inaturalist.nz/observations/8287955
- 14 October 2017, Rahotu Beach - https://inaturalist.nz/observations/8395636

One week to travel from Foxton to Rahotu or a different event?

13 October 2017, NZ Herald reports of lots in Greymouth but the article does not say what day this occured.

There is also a Project Assessment Tool buried in here that I have been playing with

Feel free to add any comments to help us keep track of the Blue Fleet :)

Posted on October 14, 2017 08:05 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 11, 2017

Blue Fleet Challange - Find Any 3 in 1 Day

While adding the blue fleet species I saw an interesting comment on one obs Fun, so 3 of the Blue Fleet in the one little bay on the same day so I thought I would highlight that as a fun challange for us!

I often see the blue bottles and by the wind sailors on one day and the next one with the most obs is the Violet Sea-Snail (Janthina janthina) so that would probably be the easiest to find when you see the other 2! The Janthina janthina on the banner is a live one so they probably will not look like that.

When you do find any 3 in 1 day, add that info in the comments of this post so we all know :)

Happy hunting!

Posted on October 11, 2017 12:52 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 3 comments | Leave a comment

October 08, 2017

The Blue Fleet

The blue fleet is a term coined by Sir Alistair Hardy to describe a community of creatures that float around in the oceans including the bluebottles, sea swallows, violet snails, blue buttons and by the wind sailors. Most people who frequent a beach would have come across at least some of them, probably the bluebottles or the by the wind sailors.

All of these creatures float around on the oceans with the sea swallows feeding on most of them. The venom of the blue bottles do not affect the sea swallows as they eat the tentacles and use the toxins as their own defense, making them more dangerous than the blue bottles!

This project only allows the following obs to be added
- Physalia physalis - Blue bottle
- Porpita porpita - Blue button
- Glaucus atlanticus - Sea swallow
- Velella velella - By the wind sailor
- Janthina janthina - violet sea snail
- Recluzia rollandiana

The banner for this project shows all of these critters.

Posted on October 08, 2017 02:07 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 9 comments | Leave a comment

First Full Blue Fleet NZ Record 11 February 2016

Our first full blue fleet record on Nature Watch is the 11 February 2016.

Read all about it in the journal post The Blue Fleet Has Landed at Otaipango

Posted on October 08, 2017 02:01 by tangatawhenua tangatawhenua | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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