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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chitons in the grassland

A few days ago, Eric came across a gumboot chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri) on the road.  An odd place for a chiton, to say the least!  Well, today I encountered the remains of at least 6 gumboot chitons in the grassland, about 50 feet away from the beach!  Here are two photos, one with most of the tissue still in place, another where only the plates remain.  

We're not sure how the chitons made it to the road or the grassland.  Seems likely that a predator -- a bird or a mammal -- picked them up on the beach and brought them inland for a safer spot to eat.  Possibilities would seem to include raven or fox/coyote/raccoon?  I've seen ravens feeding on gumboot chitons on the beach before -- see next photo.  And since we've been thinking about ravens and "seafood", here are two more pictures: one of a raven and gull fighting over an octopus, and another of a raven with a mystery object.

Gumboot chitons washed ashore during an algal bloom in late August/early September this year.  It's interesting to imagine a possible connection between phytoplankton in the ocean and chitons in the grassland!

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