Each stretch of shore has its own mix of critters and algae. On the Willow Point reef, I saw mostly green and red sea urchins, tons of ochre and leather sea stars, acres of encrusting bryozoans. Crabs and whelks and other snails. And limpets. There are always limpets, everywhere. And a fair number of chitons, huge and tiny.
|Giant Pacific chiton, Cryptochiton stelleri.|
These chitons are the largest species of chiton, worldwide. They may grow to 35 cm. long. This one was a big guy, about a foot long (30 cm.), maybe a bit more, measured against my shoe (27 cm.).
|And a smaller one, about 18 - 20 cm. long.|
I found several others, one exposed upside-down on the sand, his unprotected foot exposed to the sun's heat; I turned him over and covered him with seaweed.
And then there were the little ones:
|Lined chiton, Tonicella lineata|
These grow to about 5 cm. long. This one was smaller. When I picked up the stone he was resting on, being careful not to touch him, he fell off. Or let go on purpose. Here he is in the process of rolling himself up in a protective ball, like our familiar roly-poly wood bug. Afterwards, I nudged him back into the hole his stone had been in, out of the bright light.
|Muddy buddies. Three lined chiton cuddled together in a sea urchin's hole. With a pair of snails.|
More on sea urchins and their holes, tomorrow.