Critter of the Month

Critter of the Month gives a peek into the lives of Puget Sound’s least-known inhabitants – mud-dwelling invertebrates collected by the Marine Sediment Monitoring Team. Each month we feature a different species or group, giving information on identification, habitat, and life history.
Critter of the Month gives a peek into the lives of Puget Sound’s least-known inhabitants – mud-dwelling invertebrates collected by the Marine Sediment Monitoring Team. Each month we feature a different species or group, giving information on identification, habitat, and life history.

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Bad blood? More like "mad love" for the Pacific blood star

With its bright coloring, the Pacific blood star Henricia leviuscula is a recognizable sight in rocky tide pools. Read on to learn about the crimson critter with a few tricks up its spindly sleeves.

Stretch it out: The squat lobster finds strength in flexibility
It’s almost January, which for many, means healthy New Year’s resolutions. This month’s critter varies its routine to stay in shape year-round, in order to adapt to life in a changing ocean.
If the spirit moves (mud): The burrowing ghost shrimp
Fall’s chill is in the air and decorations are going up all over town. Meanwhile, under the mud of Puget Sound, there’s a critter that stays in its costume all year long – the burrowing ghost shrimp.
Meow we’re talking…about the catworms
June is National Adopt-a-Cat Month. But what about the benthic version of our purrrfect pals? Let me tell you a tail of the catworms...
Babies of the Benthos – Crab edition
Many invertebrates allow their young to fend for themselves in the water column, and our beloved Puget Sound crabs are no exception...but they are anything but claws-off when it comes to parenting.
Thrills, spills, and frills: The pink tritonia takes us on a wild ride
What’s pink, white, and frilly all over? It's the pink tritonia: the walking (or in this case, crawling) embodiment of the excitement — and terror — of blossoming love.
Dark got you down? Shine a little light with the lamp shells
It's that special time of year when we feel like we dwell in darkness 24 hours a day. Let’s shed a little light on the gloom with this month’s critter group: the lamp shells.
It’s slime time! The slime tube worm lives in a house of horrors
Sliiiime. Just saying the word conjures up images of monsters from scary movies like The Blob, The Thing, and Ghostbusters. But to the slime tube worm, all this ooze looks like Home Sweet Home.
These worms are boring! ... into oyster shells, that is
Shell-boring worms make their homes in mollusc shells. These parasites are sometimes called mud blister worms, because the burrows that they create inside the shells fill with mud and detritus.
Another day, another (Pacific sand) dollar
If you escaped to the Washington’s coastline this summer to beat the heat, you probably walked by the remains of this month’s critter: the Pacific sand dollar.