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Monday, November 14, 2016

Cryptic

  

While conducting surveys in the low intertidal zone tonight, Eric spotted this wonderful juvenile Gumboot Chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri).  It was only ~3 cm long.

It's not unusual to find adult Gumboot Chitons, but juveniles are much rarer.  Morris, Abbott, and Haderlie (1985) reports that juveniles are more common in the subtidal zone and rare in the low intertidal zone.
 
Eric continued to survey this rock, and he spotted a second individual!  In the photo below, the first chiton is in the upper left corner.  Look closely (very closely!) and you might be able to find the second one.  [Click on the image for a larger version.]
 
 
Did you spot the second chiton?  It's tough.  If you haven't found it yet, try to key in on the red/green mottled color pattern.  And here's another hint: the second chiton is wedged into a crevice, so you can't see the entire animal.  

Below is a close-up of the second individual it was only ~2 cm long.  Once you see it and the surrounding animals and seaweeds, I'm guessing you'll be able to find it in the photo above.  (And by the way, the pale pinkish animals with the rough texture just to the right of the chiton are bryozoans we were impressed with the similarity between the texture of the chiton and the bryozoans!)


These juvenile Gumboot Chitons are amazingly well camouflaged!  

So you can appreciate the texture and patterning, here's one more image among coralline algae. 


Remember, as adults Gumboot Chitons are the largest chiton species in the world, reaching lengths of ~33 cm (12 inches) long! 

P.S.  Here are links to previous posts with an even smaller juvenile and adults (30 August 2012 and 26 April 2012).

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