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It's crawling with them. They're making a comeback, swimming around in the kelp, skinny and lithe, 4-5 feet long (near-adult juveniles). Practically wiped out thanks to the "soup" business, you can guess why they have their name. I could swear one followed me the other day, darting through the kelp, keeping pace as I watched it from above. My favorite shark researcher tells me that ocean animals have only one imperative: to make it to adulthood to reproduce. That's biology, plain and simple. Why tangle with a spidery yellow-colored unknown entity making lots of splashes at the surface? Here's a YouTube of soupfins in La Jolla:

Update on White Shark Sightings: Monday, July 2nd at La Jolla Shores made the news.  A 14-to-16-footer was seen underwater, close enough to shore to shut down nearby beaches including La Jolla Cove. Not officially reported was another sighting four days later (Friday): a surfer paddling north at Boneyards (Swami's, Encinitas) saw a 14-foot shark beneath him an hour before sunset.  July 16th, Tuesday, brought a third sighting: lifeguards at Torrey Pines State Beach saw a 12-foot shark heading north just before 3 p.m.  These would all be what are being code-named "jumbos" (great whites).  So we do have some small adults roaming around, but none have actually done anything, not even taken a closer look at anyone! Remember that whites don't exist in great numbers, and remember the predator-prey relationship. Where the food (seal population) is, sharks go -- just like people: "refreshments offered" always brings them in!

Jellyfish are plankton eaters and drift where the current and wind takes them. Not usually a drastic problem in Southern California waters, they have become a bit scarier this year, sized like King Kong and about as black and hairy. The giant jellies are washing up on the beaches up to 5 feet across, with 10-foot tentacles. A Solana Beach lifeguard reported seeing two of these at once in deep water just off Tabletop reef ... they washed up at Seaside later in the day. A swimmer at La Jolla Cove said he saw a giant jelly totally submerged with dozens of garibaldi feasting on it. Evidently striped sea bass and garibaldi love to eat jellies! Believe it or not, even the big jellies are fragile, and coastal waves break them into pieces. Yet the pieces can sting and tentacles can wind around you like a rope. A bit of chop or wind swell can sail a jelly right into you. Here are the big ones ... seen all through Southern California waters this July:

Giant black jellyfish


Last year it was lime-green tetraselmis, an algae that smelled like dog food and frothed in the Southern California water. This year, in September -- LATE! -- we had weeks of red tide, a bioluminescent bloom of dinoflagellate protozoans that poisons fish and other marine life. Did you read it right? Yes. The stuff, in actuality Lingulodinium polyedrum, isn't toxic to humans, but will accumulate in shellfish that filter large amounts of water every day, thus causing phytoplankton toxins to build up inside them. (Have you seen the signs posted at the beach warning people not to eat "shellfish from these waters between the months of May and September"? The reason is phytoplankton toxins that are seasonally present.) Why and how do the little critters flash blue light? Due to a chemical reaction occurring in the cell when the plankton are moved or jostled. So a breaking wave jostles millions of these dinoflagellates and you get a cosmic photo moment:


Some surfers insist that they get very sick when surfing in red-tide waters ... Although it isn't the dinoflagellates themselves that are responsible, says phytoplankton ecologist Peter Franks (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), it may be due to "red tides [decreasing] the mortality of human pathogenic bacteria that get into nearshore waters. These bacteria normally die pretty quickly, [but] they may die slower during a red tide, perhaps due to the increased amounts of organic material in the water. So perhaps [the reported illnesses and] ear infections are because of other bacteria that are present in higher concentrations in a red tide than they would normally be. (Please give us funding to pursue this.)" The credit goes to a student of his for preliminary research to this effect.