Tidal bugs
This summer I was on vacation on the island of Vinalhaven off the coast of Maine. While exploring the wonderful tidal pools there, my family and I discovered little clumps of blue-grey bugs who would utilize the surface tension of the water and hang out on top of it. They would move across the surface of the water by clutching each other and rearranging themselves. It was certainly not a very efficient or graceful way of moving, but it was mesmerizing to watch! They would occasionally reach the edge of the tidal pool and walk around on the rocks, but they would always end up back in the water again shortly. I could not tell whether they preferred being in the water or were just very clumsy. I’m guessing that they are either larvae or nymphs of something–but beyond that, I have no idea! Any thoughts on what these charming little creatures could be? Thank you,

Hi Julia,
We were struck by the resemblance of your unknown (to us) creatures to a type of Springtail known as the Snow Flea, a primitive insect. We googled “Springtail, marine” and were lead to a fascinating description of a surface dwelling species named Anurida maritima. Typing that into the search engine lead us to a positive identification of your creature on a UK website that states: “Anurida maritima is abundant and primarily limited to the upper intertidal zone. It can be found in large clusters of 20-100’s wandering over rocks in search of food or floating on the surface film of upper shore rock pools (only when the water is still). This species retreats into rocky crevices, or shelters under weeds during high tide: retreating one hour before the tide begins to rise.” We then found a reference on a Maine website that translates the scientific name as “wingless one who goes to sea.”

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2 Responses to Marine Springtail: Anurida maritima

  1. Paul says:

    Hi, I have recently come across rock pools in North Ayrshire and it looks like these are there in the thousands. I was asking local people if they had seen them before but nobody has or knew what they were. I have a couple of photos and videos of them moving around and they were also crawling across the rocks to other small pools. If you would like the photos for the site you can email me as I don’t know how to upload from here.

  2. Rachael says:

    Whilst visiting a beach in north Devon today, we saw the same. I photographed them and zoomed in. They were no bigger than a pin head.. but on zooming in look like lice. I’ve been trying to ID them all night and think this is exactly what they are.
    I have photos too if you would like them. Found in a still rock pool on woolacombe beach, Devon.

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