Corallines and Chitons Layer the Lower Intertidal

In an intimate scene of layering, two crustose reds overtop one another. This is their way. Pink over purple, purple over pink. They in turn, are overtopped by hardened upright corallines, bladed reds, and chitons that blend in.


In the upper left, a lined chiton, Tonicella lineata, occupies a layer between red crust and red blade. Only its three anteriormost valves extend into the morning light. Chitons graze the crusts keeping them clean. Ironically, even the cleaner hosts a layer of purple crust!

Note: If you had trouble finding the last layer, take a look at the large chiton’s fourth valve; you’ll see a purple crust there.


Druehl, L. D. and B. E. Clarkston. 2016. Pacific Seaweeds: A Guide To Common Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast. 2nd ed. Harbour Publishing Co.

Kozloff, E. N. 1993. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast. 3rd ed. University of Washington Press.

Lamb, A. and B. P. Hanby. 2005. Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest. Harbour Publishing.


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