Friday Deep-Sea Picture (9/7/07): Sea Butterflies

Clione, a shell-less snail know as the Sea Butterfly swims in the shallow waters beneath Arctic ice. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer and Elisabeth Calvert, University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

2 comments on “Friday Deep-Sea Picture (9/7/07): Sea Butterflies
  1. Nice to see the picture, although the colors of Cliome are masked by the blue of the water.

    We saw several of these off the coast of Maine — near Bailey Island — in the fall of 1960 when I was taking Invertebrate Zoology at Bowdoin.

  2. I absolutely love Clione limacina. I first encountered them as an undergraduate student in Newfoundland, and ended up keeping several of them alive in a planktonkreisel which I was maintaining for a public education program. One day I managed to catch of bunch of the pteropod Limacina sp. which is the prey of Clinone, and watched the result. Clione looks so peaceful and serene when swimming, but upon contact with a Limacina shell, 6 buccal tentacles everted from the mouth to grasp the shell, manipulating it around so that the opening was facing it, and then the two clawlike appendages slid free, grabbing the smaller snail kicking and screaming (Or so I imagined!) from its shell. After about 20 seconds, the whole body had been swallowed, and empty shell dropped to the bottom, and the tentacles retracted, leaving the Clione to go about its graceful, casual swim.

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