Peltodoris lancei

Photo courtesy of Webmaster
Photograph taken at Bahia de los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico July 1997

Peltodoris lancei Millen, in Millen and Bertsch, 2000

            746 Agate St., La Jolla, California. For years James Lance occupied that small house a few blocks from the ocean, until he moved to Oregon to be with family. It was there on Agate Street that other opisthobranch workers sometimes visited him. Actually, for a short period of time (while I was with the San Diego Museum of Natural History) I lived only a block away from him!

            Many of us have our memories of meetings with Jim. I would like to take this “Peltodoris lancei Revisited” opportunity to share a few times and present his complete bibliography , list of named species, and species named in his honor.

            During the first days of May, 1981, Jim Lance, Jeff Hamann and his father, and I flew to Bahía de los Ángeles (the type locality of Okenia angelensis Lance, 1966, and Okenia angelica Gosliner and Bertsch, 2004) to collect on the spring low tides. While landing on the dirt airstrip in front of the town, the left tire of the airplane blew! A bit scary; even the hydraulics on the front wheel were so damaged that the plane listed forward, and while taxi-ing to the Papa Díaz hotel complex our propeller was slightly chewed up by whirling and grinding through the dirt. We used rounded boulders to try to beat out the “dings” on the propeller, and then wrapped fire hose with baling wire around the wheel structural support to make sure it would raise the plane's nose higher for our take-offs and landings in our return flight. The gods smiled upon a former Catholic priest, 2 “devoted” Christians, and Jim of little faith! We returned safely, after having collected some interesting slugs. The linked photo shows Jim holding up the wing of the airplane while we are changing the flat tire. Note that we had to first build up a support of a number of loosely piled-upon blocks before we could even use the jack! Wobbly, wiggly, the plane could flutter off its building blocks instanteously—so Jim's support was essential. Actually, I helped hold the wing, except when I took this picture.

            A few years later (7 July 1984), Mrs. Eveline Marcus visited Jim at La Jolla; one early afternoon Jim invited her, Steve Long, and myself to view some of his nudibranch slides. It was a most memorable afternoon, for many reasons. We are all in this picture taken by a friend of mine, Nancy Love. An interesting amalgamation of opisthobranch aficionados—each of whom has had species named in their honor: Cuthona longi Behrens, 1985; Tyrinna evelinae (Marcus, 1958); Bajaeolis bertschi Gosliner and Behrens, 1986; and Peltodoris lancei Millen, 2000.

            Jim's descriptions, photographs and exquisite line drawings of the external and internal anatomy of opisthobranchs are a fitting legacy. The official gift given to the Emperor of Japan during his visit to Scripps Institution of Oceanography was an assembled album of nudibranch photographs taken by Jim (remember Dr. Kikutaro Baba's 1949 and 1955 works on the opisthobranchs of Sagami Bay, based upon specimens collected by His Majesty?). Moreover, as I wrote in my Forward to Pacific Coast Nudibranchs (Behrens, 1980), “Along with Joan E. Steinberg and James R. Lance, they [including Ernst and Eveline Marcus] initiated the recent resurgence of interest in the temperate eastern Pacific opisthobranchs by re-identifying earlier named species and describing many others that had been without names” (under my “Period 5: 1960—present”).

            We wish Jim peace.

Hans Bertsch
Imperial Beach, California
March 2006

WEBMASTER'S NOTES : After my retirement in Jan. 1995, I spent many hours at 746 Agate St "in class" with Jim as a newbie in " branchology." Generally we would have an agenda to cover but more often than not, Jim would be begin talking on one subject or another and I would recline back on his sofa and try to take it all in like a sponge. Sometimes these discourses lasted for hours but the time lapse seemed like a few minutes, the subject matter was so enthralling. Jim has not published in quite some time so it is probable much of what he passed on to me is going to the grave with him as no notes were taken. What does remain with me is his intensity and love of branching. After numerous forays to local tide pools, Bahia de los Angeles, and even Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, it was obvious that Jim could roll rocks with the best of branching crew at that time. I decided early on to stick with scuba as my back wasn't up to the task of turning rocks for hours on end as a diligent brancher must do in Jim's perspective. As an illustration of Jim's dedication to the field, his pursuit of specimens knew no bounds. He was stopped by customs on his last trip to Mexico at the San Diego airport for having a bucket of live specimens. The Fish and Game folks didn't know what to do with the "evidence," so they remanded the "take" to Jim for safe keeping. Not exactly the chain of custody procedure I was accustomed to while working in crime labs but having custody of the evidence enabled Jim to complete his studies although he eventually had to pay a $250 fine for running afoul of various Federal and Local statues. One interesting study of note centered on Spurilla neapolitana . Jim and Don Cadien (finder) were able to bring back a live 14mm specimen from the Nayarit coast in Mexico. Jim raised the tyke to maturity with a steady diet of its favorite anemone food he found locally in tidal pools.

A couple of years ago Jim's landlady Noreen was forced to sell the unit where Jim lived for some thirty (30) years for reasons of going into assisted care living. The new owners raised the rent and Jim relocated to Oregon. I think the move provided the impetus for Jim to join the "computer age" to stay current on branch affairs, but true to form, Jim seldom participated in a public sense, relying on personal written correspondence as he had for many years before the computer age.

I can image that if I ever again make the early morning trek to the Casa Reef tide pools in La Jolla, the daunting apparition of Jim is sure to be there in the early morning mist turning rocks in an eternal quest for his life long quarry!

Michael Miller
San Diego, Calif
Mar. 2006

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