Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beach Hoppers

If one has taken a stroll down a California beach you would most likely have noticed large piles of kelp dotting the scenery. Lift up some of that debris and you will find many hopping organisms fleeing the scene. These creatures are known as Orchestoidea californiana, or more commonly beach hoppers. These little guys get their name from using their tail end to launch themselves into the air.

Beach hoppers measure about 1.1 inches long and have red/orange antennae. Beach hoppers burrow underground during the day and come out at night to search for food. Their diet is mainly comprised of seaweed washed up onto the beach.

In their comfy burrows (about 12 inches down) these creatures meet up to mate; the male deposits his jelly like sperm onto the female’s underside (very romantic). The female then forms a pouch that it keeps until the blue eggs hatch. The mating season lasts between June and November.

If you are interested in observing these quick moving crustaceans try looking under kelp piles near the Scripps pier at the Scripps coastal reserve. I believe you’ll go “hopping” mad for them!

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