Mystery Sign

A living creature is behind this paw-like pattern, a shadow thrown through water. What do you think is going on here?

(Your answers will be posted later today, along with a picture of the culprit.)

Voila! Hey thanks for playing! Most you were in the right place; a shadow cast by a water strider, in family Gerridae. says there are 46 species in 8 genera in North America. (This one was larger than the one making the shadow above because the smaller ones were quite hard to photograph.)  They use their shorter forelegs for grabbing prey trapped by surface tension. Longer middle and hind legs ride that surface tension.

14 Responses to “Mystery Sign”

  1. 1 Kathleen June 29, 2017 at 7:11 am

    My vote is for the shadow cast by a Gerridae?


  2. 3 Deborah Allen June 29, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Have to guess: water-strider.

  3. 5 Nic Flood June 29, 2017 at 9:47 am

    water strider!

  4. 7 Doris Karnila June 29, 2017 at 11:53 am

    Water stridder?

  5. 9 Gubbinal June 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I am baffled. I have not tried to look them up, but I cannot think of any animal–mammal or amphibian– who could have such circular prints. But it’s been fun to think about it.

  6. 11 Elise Leduc June 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Looks like the shadows produced from the depressions made in the surface of the water where a water strider’s feet touch the water.

  7. 13 Jose Conde July 2, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Hi Matthew. A constellation of Jellyfish floating on surface? I realize you may have posted the answer but I have not looked yet.

    • 14 mthew July 2, 2017 at 8:40 am

      As a matter of fact, I’ve seen a few jellyfish in the harbor, at Bush Terminal Park, but the water there casts no shadows. This pool was much shallower: freshwater, actually I suspect it comes out of a pipe! at the native plant garden at the NYBG.

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