Colourful Chitons of the Intertidal

Chitons live in the intertidal zone and are recognisable by their eight shell parts and are surrounded by a flexible girdle. Here are some of the chitons that are commonly seen around in the intertidal zone at Henderson Bay.  The easiest chitons to find are the snakeskin chitons or Sypharochiton pelliserpentis, the blue green chitons or Chiton glaucus and the variable chiton or Ischnochiton maorianus.

The snakeskin chiton lives throughout the intertidal and is easily recognisable by the light and dark stripes on the girdle resembling a snake skin.  The dark colour is usally the same colour as the body plates.  They often have pink coralline algae growing on them. Grows up to 30mm long.

The blue green chitons found throughout the intertidal and often under rocks are easily recognisable by the girdle which has the same colour as the plates and are usually shiny.  Found in many colours, not just blue or green, it grows to 40mm long.

The variable chiton found throughout the intertidal and often under rocks are easily recognisable by the markings on the plates and the girdle is usually pale grey or brown.  It has a distinct sausage shape and grows up to 45mm  long.

Click on each photo below to view more detail.

All photos have been taken at Otaipango – Henderson Bay

 

Out in the low intertidal zone under rocks you can find chitons that are not found in the higher zones. These include the etched chiton or Onithochiton neglectus, the violet chiton or Notoplax violacea and the hairy chiton or Acanthochitona zelandica.

The etched chiton is easily identified by the markings on the shell which can look like tree rings and the girdle that has a fluffy look and is often pink, although they can also be yellow or green. These grow up to 40mm in length, but are usually found around 20mm long here.

The violet chiton is recognisable by the central “V” that is usually violet in colour with a pale ridge along the top of the plates. The girdle can come in a range of orange / brown colours. These can grow up to 50mm in length, but are usually found around 20mm – 40mm long here.

The hairy chiton is recognisable by the 18 tufts of hairs around the plates. These can grow up to 30mm in length, but are usually found around 15-20mm long here.

One that you may be lucky to find is the butterfly chiton, or Cryptoconchus porosus which is easily recognisable as it looks different from all other types of chitons!

Click on each photo below to view more detail.

All photos have been taken at Otaipango – Henderson Bay

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