What are these clear, gelatinous cylinders housing small zooplankton?

Eye on Nature: Your notes and queries for Eithne Viney

Photograph: Chris O’Malley

Photograph: Chris O’Malley

 

Early in January, small, clear, gelatinous cylinders, each housing a small zooplankton were seen by Helene Byrne on the Antrim coast, by Siobhán Montgomery and Conan Breslin on Donegal coasts, and by Chris O’Malley on a north Mayo coast.

They were phronima sedentaria, amphipods (like sand hoppers) which had parasitised salps (barrel-shaped tunicates) by hollowing them out to provide a nursery and transport for themselves. These have been arriving here for several decades. Salps are usually found in the Mediterranean and adjacent seas but with the ocean warming they are moving north.

We spotted this along the Dodder and wondered what it was.
Philippa Carr, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

It’s a slime mould, a protist – an organism that shares animal and plant or fungal characteristics. It goes through several stages of development, of which this is an early stage. Later it turns black and produces spores.

A friend of my daughter Hannah found these in a garden in Dublin.
Therese Gumbrielle, Clontarf, Dublin 3

They are smooth newts – adult and juvenile, in hibernation for the winter. In spring they emerge and like frogs, seek out water to breed.

My neighbour spotted four pairs of goosander on the water while cycling in November on the Greenway between Newport and Mulranny, Co Mayo.
Damien Maguire, Maynooth, Co Kildare
This duck is a rare visitor in winter from continental Europe. But there is a small breeding population on lakes in Donegal and Wicklow.

We were visited at the end of December by a flock of 15 goldfinches which feasted on lavender seeds for about half an hour and then headed off.
Brian Collins, Raheny, Dublin 5

A wood pigeon ate more than 150 of my firethorn berries at one sitting on New Year’s Day. Very few are left.
Brian O’Neill, Moyne Road, Dublin 6

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Include a postal address.

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