Did you know what this animal was?
This tank-like looking animal is a Chiton, which is a mollusc commonly found along rocky shores. Chitons hide in crevices and underneath boulders and they are superbly camouflaged. The distinctive feature of chitons is their 8 overlapping plates, which act like armour and protect them from predators and waves. When disturbed they clamp their muscular, mucus-secreting foot hard onto the rocks and are extremely difficult to remove.
Australia has about 150 species of chitons of which 90% are endemic.
General Description Flattened oval-shaped body with 8 shell sections (valves) surrounded by a fleshy girdle. Brown to grey with yellow to red markings. Up to 1 cm long.
This chiton was found under a rock at the Sorrento back beach rockpools. With algal growth on the plates, it is difficult to identify the species. This specimen is likely an Ischnochiton australis which has a flattened oval-shaped body with 8 shell sections surrounded by a fleshy girdle. This species is usually dark green or green-blue and can grow to 8cm in length.
Biology. The many species of chitons are herbivores, and they have a radula which is a rasping tongue with teeth used to scrape algae off rocks. Their shells also have primitive ‘eyes’ that detect light and dark, but they tend to hide from the light by sheltering underneath rocks.
Habitat Reefs and coastal shores, under rocks, often in mud, from mid-tide to below low tide areas, to a depth of 9 m.
Distribution of these particular species – South-eastern Australia.
DSE Advisory List: Not listed EPBC Act 1999: Not listed IUCN Red List: Not listed
Watch out for next week’s Creature Feature and try and identify the animal before you click on the link! If you would like to come along on a rockpool ramble with the Education Team please do not hesitate to contact Mandy Robertson at the Dolphin Research Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org