Changing Planet

BioBlitz Critter Pictures: Slime Time!

The name “BioBlitz” may conjure images of racing around trying to catch a sight of fauna fleet of foot, but in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, there are wonderful creatures to catch that are moving a good deal slower that you are.

Big slug. Bigger trees. (Photo by Clay Bolt for BioBlitz)

Exhibit A: The banana slug (photo by Clay Bolt). I watched one particular specimen (a good six inches long), on a fence post at the base of a waterfall in an interior woods. As I watched him(?) make his way half an inch over about ten minutes, I noticed a much smaller one on the ground by my feet, which I didn’t step on only through the miraculous intercession of San Francisco himself, Francis of Assisi.

Slow and low is how he goes. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

This large brown snail was traveling the same path as I was (at least for a few shared inches) through a series of switchbacks up Mount Barnabe. It was the first of two moments where I paused unrelatedly and then noticed one of these nomads just a foot or so ahead of me. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

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The third beautifully slimy creature I witnessed traveling through the parks was sadly one of many of its kind, washed up on the beach as they often are. The remnants of this moon jelly on Limantour Beach, far north of San Francisco on Drakes Bay near Point Reyes were practically invisible with few identifiable structures. It seemed to take the simplicity of form seen in the slugs and snails to a whole new level, or perhaps to return it to an earlier one. Either way, it caught the light filtering through low coastal clouds and inspired wonder at our invertebrate fellow Earthlings. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

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Snail seen in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, California. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

… And one for good luck. (Photo by Andrew Howley)

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. He is currently beginning a new role as communications director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish.

Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society’s Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010.

He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history.

  • Les

    What’s the species or at least the genus of the land snail in above photos?? Any help would be appreciated.

  • Les

    What’s the species or at least the genus of the land snail in above photos?? Any help would be appreciated.

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