Friday, February 23, 2018

Katy in black leather

The afternoon was sunny and warm, although the previous afternoon's snow still had not melted. Favouring my gimpy leg, I chose a beach for walking that is flat, flat, flat. Mostly hard sandstone, covered with rockweed; not too slippery, easy going.

I followed the tide out. At the base of an erratic, I found a community of whelks and chitons.

The erratic as first seen, about 3/4 tide.

Now, half an hour later, the water barely reaches the base. I could walk there.

I am always intrigued by these erratics, left behind by the glaciers eons ago. It's as if they levelled the ground, rolling it like a lawn, leaving only faint scratch marks, and then, on a whim, dropping a great chunk of rock in the middle. This one is about 4 metres tall (13 feet), judging by my height; I could not quite reach the green/yellow mark where the usual high tide covers the stone and barnacles.

At the base of the stone, on the seaward side, several chitons rested in a shallow pool.

I think this is the black leather (Black Katy) chiton, Katharina tunicata.

These grow to about 6 inches long; the ones I saw were around 3 inches. I touched a couple; they are hard and leathery, and were firmly attached to the rock.

Another, almost a blue-black. To get these photos, I had to balance on three points, feet on wobbly stones, leaning a shoulder against the rock on the far side of the pool, hoping not to fall in, trying to keep the camera dry. I'll try again another day, after the tide has fallen more.

Several chitons here, in a deeper spot in the pool. Two black Katies, and two much smaller, nicely patterned chitons, possibly lined chitons, Tonicella lineata. The star is a leather star, Dermasterias limbricata.

More on this beach's residents, tomorrow.

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