Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tiny Frog and Sea Slugs

The posts of the new species of frog and sea slug inspired me to share my own story. 

I love sea slugs, especially Nudibranchs. While I was in Hawaii over the summer, I trekked down to the Olivine Pools, where I found Haminoea cymbalum, a species of sea slug common to the coastline of Maui. 

I highly recommend visiting Maui. The Haleakalā volcano is spectacular at sunrise. There are many hikes and exciting places to explore on land and in the water. I was scuba certified on Maui, possibly the most amazing experience of my life! There are fairly descent places to go snorkeling and scuba diving on Maui, and the Hawaiian Islands in general. If you stick to the beach resorts and touristy places, Maui isn't that exciting, but once you get off the beaten path it is a lot more interesting. This summer I went with my family and my friend who is studying geology. I am interested in marine biology. It was an educational experience for my parents because my friend and I would not shut up about everything we knew about the geology and biology of Maui. 

Here is a photo of the Olivine Pools where I found Haminoea cymbalum. This picture was taken at the top of  cliff we climbed down to get to the Olivine Pools. At the top there is a rock with a rope tied around it that we had to slide out to and grab a hold of to swing down to a shaky ladder that went down to a landing of boulders. From there you have to navigate through the boulders to the pools. The drop from the top of the cliff to the pools is probably hundreds of feet. 

It is awesome that a UCSB Marine Scientist found a new species of sea slug. It would be a dream come true to discover something like that. 

Also while in Hawaii, on the road to Hana we stopped at the Hana Lava Tube. If you are interested in geology it is pretty spectacular, but not a whole lot of life in the cave. At least not in the "designated tour area." There is a spot along the tour where lava had erupted out of the tube to the surface and in that area light shines down into the tube. There is a small patch where ferns can grow in the lava rock. While I was looking at the ferns something tiny jumped past my line of sight. I spotted and caught it and to my surprise it was a tiny frog. It does not appear to be an adult and will probably grow more. So, it is not the smallest frog ever, but it was only 5mm long. The smallest adult frog on record is 9.8mm long. Here is a picture of the frog on my thumb. Cute isn't it?

Megan Walsh

1 comment:

John Latto said...

With a bit of research I was able to identify your frog. What made it easier is that Hawaii has NO native frogs (lack of dispersal) and only six introduced species. Four of them are easy to rule out, leaving the two species of frogs in genus Eleutherodactylus: the Common Coqui (E. coqui) and the Greenhouse Frog (E. planirostris). The Common Coqui has received attention recently because it is a considerable pest and there are programs to control it. However I'd guess yours is actually the Greenhouse frog, based on the body shape and feet.

Both of these species of Eleutherodactylus have direct development - ie larval development occurs within the egg and the young hatch as miniature froglets (explaining why that frog is so small).

Your sea slug is harder (there are a hundreds of species of sea slugs in the Hawaian islands) but it is so distinctive and this webpage is so good I pretty rapidly spotted the only likely candidate: Haminoea cymbalum. Compare this photographto yours.