Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Marine worms of the week: Chaetognatha and Nemertea

Oh noes! Grey side-gilled sea-slugs Pleurobranchaea maculata are stranding themselves on the beaches around Auckland, envious perhaps of the attention lavished on beached whales! The oh-noes part is that dogs have died from nomming them during littoral-zone walkies. Thus the current crop of sea-slugs are being bio-assayed for toxicity, for New Zealanders are an animal-loving people [where "bio-assay" = 'injecting various concentrations of slug extract into lab-fulls of mice to determine the lethal dose']. Our Science Minister Dr Wayne Mapp has called for more research into the Sea-slug Menace, and warned that
...the risk of poisoning from sea slugs was low but the risk of harm if you were poisoned by one was high.
"The amount that was fatal [to a person] was as low as half a slug - one teaspoon".
If true, Mrs Miggins will have to find some other ingredient to hold up the crusts of her celebrated Pies Marinara, or else rebrand them as New Zealand's answer to sashimi fugu, with an eye to the Japanese export market.

As any fule kno, animal species that can sequester the tetrodotoxin secreted by Vibrio alginolyticus bacteria -- to use in self-defense or as a venom for predation -- include (inter alia):
  • sea-slugs;
  • pufferfish;**
  • blue-ringed octopus;
  • arrow worms (phylum Chaetognatha);
  • ribbon worms (phylum Nemertea); and
  • newts.
Yet pufferfish is the only one* to feature in Extreme Eating adrenaline cuisine. It is a mystery.

* Fugu features in episodes of X-files, Bones, and House (twice), so we know all about it and don't need no steekin' Google.

** Almost the only one; the Whackyweedia does mention "at least one report of a fatal [tetrodotoxin poisoning] in Oregon when an individual swallowed a Rough-skinned Newt Taricha granulosa." It would be premature and irresponsible to link this to the number of brewpubs in Oregon.

UPDATE: Bonus Fugu Warning Poster.
Apparently Vietnamese is the language of choice for billboards in Korea.


merc said...

Riddled is vital to knowing even moreso now. Thanks for not mentioning the purple dye.

messes, is that all ya got?

Substance McGravitas said...

"The amount that was fatal [to a person] was as low as half a slug - one teaspoon".


Smut Clyde said...

Thanks for not mentioning the purple dye.

We try to avoid triggers and keep Riddled a safe place.

Smut Clyde said...

Don't you eat that purple dye
Mrs Miggins' gentian pie

Stackozone said...

I am offended that there was no further mention of Chaetognatha sp. in your blog. I will be writing a heavily redacted letter to the editor!

tigris said...

Inconsiderate mer-people should keep their slugs leashed when going for swimmies, but some folks just can't resist throwing things out of the water for their slug to retrieve.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...


Saw Blue Oyster Cult on Monday night.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The sea slugs which killed several dogs around the beaches of Auckland's North Shore last year seem to be on their way back.

The opening paragraph makes the story seem so much more interesting, like a 1950's horror movie!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Crud, the better joke would have been:

Hitchcock's The Slugs

merc said...

Did they play cow bell? I love that Reaper song.

Don't fear the sea slugs...

prated, too easy, placed in a crate.

Smut Clyde said...

The opening paragraph makes the story seem so much more interesting

We're working up to a re-make of Jaws but with a lower special-effects budget.

aw Blue Oyster Cult on Monday night.
I'm glad someone noticed the Alt Text.

Another Kiwi said...

I gotta say, that is a classy lemon coloured suit you have on in the picture, Smut. Is it the one that got washed by tigris in Newby week, the one that shrunk a little? Also Mrs Cat has not been painted very well, this is one of Greenish Hugh's paintings isn't it?

tigris said...

Oh crap, I thought you said I was supposed to WATCH the suit. It did try to make a break for it, so I glued it to a chair.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I'm glad someone noticed the Alt Text.