Tidepool Treat: The SchizymeniaKatharina Connection

The low tides of late summer brought me a tidepool treat. I’d read about a connection between a red seaweed called slimy leaf, Schizymenia pacifica, and the Katy chiton, Katharina tunicata, but hadn’t seen it myself. I had seen Katy chitons decked out with various seaweed and animal hitchhikers, but I did not recall slimy leaf among them. By August, my eyes were open for Katies with slippery companions.

With luck on my side, I found Katy chitons dressed in slimy leaf. The photograph below illustrates one of my discoveries. You see only the hind part of the chiton (black, upper center). Its head, oriented toward the bottom of the image, is concealed by draped slimy leaf.

Without much effort, I found two other Katies with slimy leaf growing on their backs. This post’s featured image shows one of the others. We are enjoying this cross-kingdom connection only because someone at Seaweed Sorter took the time to mention what they call a “curious partnership” between Schizymenia and Katharina. If you love testing your Pacific seaweed identification skill, or are curious about Pacific Northwest nature, treat yourself to Seaweed Sorter.

What a Treat!