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Shorekeepers Animals


The diversity of species in the marine environment surpasses terrestrial environments. Virtually every phyla of animals is represented in the ocean and some phyla are limited to the ocean. Phyla are major divisions of plants and animals. Organisms are considered more closely related, in evolutionary terms, to members of their own phylum than to members of other phyla. Similarly, within a phylum, organisms are divided hierarchically in categories according to degrees of relatedness.

Below are brief descriptions of the more common phyla of marine invertebrates and species of fish (vertebrates) likely to be encountered on a Shorekeeper survey, particularly in the Strait of Georgia. Not all phyla are discussed and not all classes within phyla are discussed. Pictures of species are included where available.

>Phylum Porifera (sponges)
>Phylum Cnidaria (anemones, jellyfish and hydroids)
>Phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms)
>Phylum Nemertea (ribbon worms)
>Phylum Annelida (segmented worms)
>Phylum Bryozoa (moss-like animals)
>Phylum Mollusca (snails, chitons, limpets, nudibranchs, bivalves -clams, oysters, mussels)
>Phylum Arthropoda (crustaceans, and insects)
>Phylum Echinodermata (sea stars, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, sea urchins)
>Phylum Urochordata (sea squirts)
>Phylum Chordata (all animals with backbones including fish)

Phylum Porifera (sponges)
Sponges are aggregations of cells that do not form tissues or layers but are organized around a system of pores, canals and chambers. They form soft spongy mats riddled with pores , some volcano-like. Sponges are found on and under rocks and on floats and pilings.
Genera common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Purple sponge (Haliclona permollis)
>Bread crumb sponges (Halichondria species)

Haliclona permollis
Phylum Cnidaria (anemones, jellyfish and hydroids)
Class Anthozoa: Anemones and coral
Anemones appear flower-like with a central disc surrounded by a ring of tentacles each armed with stinging capsules called nematocysts that are used to capture prey.
Species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Aggregate or Green Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima)
>Plumose or White/Tan Anenome (Metridium spp)
>Painted or Red/Green Anemone (Urticina crassicornis)
>Burrowing Anemone (Anthopleura artemisia)
>Orange Cup Coral (Balanophyllia elegans)

Anthopleura elegantissima

Urticina crassicornos

Metridium sp.
Phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms)
Class Turbellaria (marine flatworms)
Flatworms are thin flat and oval. They are usually 2 to 3 times longer than wide and are usually less than 5 m long. They move by action of cilia (microscopic projections from cells that vibrate creating water currents). They swim by undulating wave-like motions of the margins of the body. It is difficult to identify species or even genera in the field.
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Phylum Nemertea (ribbon worms)
These worms are not segmented. They are slender, slightly flattened and contractible such that lengths can range from 1 cm to 15 cm and occasionally to 1 m. A unique feature of this group is the presence of a proboscis - a tubular apparatus for capturing prey. The proboscis is either sticky or armed with stylets and is everted from the head region.
Species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Mud Nemertean (Paranemertes peregrina)
>Pale Ribbon Worm (Amphiporus species)
>Orange Nemertean (Tubulanus polymorphus)
>No common name (Micrura verrilli)
>Green Ribbon Worm (Emplectonema gracile)

Phylum Annelida (segmented worms)
Class Polychaeta (almost all are marine worms)
These are segmented worms. You may have to look very closely to see the segments. Some are free-swimming while others build parchment or calcareous tubes in which to live. Many have tiny fleshy flaps on the sides of each segment.
Species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Mussel Worm (Nereis vexillosa)
>Sand Worm (Nereis brandti)
>Thread Worm (Notomastus tenuis)
>Scale Worm (Halsydna brevisetosa)
>Bamboo Worm (Axiothella rubrocincta)
>Calcareous or Red Tube Worm (Serpula vermicularis)
>Tiny Spiral Tubeworms (Spirorbis species)
>Leather Tubeworm (Eudistylia vancouveri)
>Lugworm (Arenicola cristata)

Serpula vermicularis

Eudistylia vancouveri
Phylum Bryozoa (calcified moss-like animals)
Bryozoans are microscopic individuals that form complex colonies. They are often mistaken for encrusting algae or hydroids. Bryozoans form thin crusty patches on kelp fronds, or form bushes growths, or branching or calcareous staghorn-like growths resembling coral.
>Kelp lace (Membranipora membranacea)


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Phylum Mollusca (snails, chitons, limpets, nudibranchs, bivalves -clams, oysters, mussels)
This is a very large and diverse group. General features of animals in this phylum include a soft body with a portion that extends out around part of the body creating a flap called the mantle. There is typically 1 shell, 2 hinged shells or eight overlapping shells or plates that cover the body, although among nudibranchs the shell is absent or greatly reduced. The shell is secreted by the mantle.

Class Gastropoda (snails, limpets and nudibranchs)
Snails and limpets have a single conical or spiral shell. Nudibranchs do not have a shell or have only a remnant of one. All three have a large muscular foot with which they adhere and crawl over rocks. They have jaws and a scraping device called a radula for feeding on attached algae. Among those that are carnivorous, the radula is modified for drilling through the shells of prey.

Snail species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Green Bubble Snail (Haminoea virescens)
>Sitka Periwinkle (Littorina sitkana)
>Checkered Periwinkle (Littorina scutulata)
>Lewis's Moon Snail (Euspira lewisii)
>Leafy Hornmouth (Ceratostoma foliatum)
>Dire Whelk (Lirabuccinum dirum)
>Striped Dogwinkle (Nucella emarginata)
>Frilled Dogwinkle (Nucella lamellosa)
>Screw Shell (Batillaria cumingi)
>Blue-Top Snail (Calliostoma ligatum)
>Worm Shell (Petaloconchus compactus)
>Dove Shells (Amphissa species)

Littorina sp.

Amphissa sp.

Euspira lewisii Egg casing (right) and snail (left)

Lirabuccinum dirum

Ceratostoma foliatum
Limpet species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Rough Keyhole Limpets (Diodora aspera)
>True Limpets (Lottiidae family)
>Plate Limpet (Tectura scutum)
>Mask Limpet (Tectura persona)
>Ribbed Limpet (Lottia digitalis)
>Whitecap Limpet (Acmaea mitra)
>Shield Limpet (Lottia pelta)

Keyhole limpet

Lottia digitalis
Nudibranch species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Ringed/Leopard Dorid (Diaulula sandiegensis)
>Shaggy Mouse Nudibranch (Aeolidia papillosa)
>Sea lemon (Anisodoris nobilis)
>White-lined Dirona (Dirona albolineata)
>Brown Nudibranch (Aanthodoris brunnea)

Class Cephalopoda (octopus and squid)
Cephalopod species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Opalescent Squid* (Loligo opalescens)
>Giant Pacific Octopus (Octopus dofleini)
*the eggs of the opalesent squid frequently wash ashore.


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Class Polyplacophora (chitons)
These animals are oval shaped with the upper surface of the body covered in a series of eight interlocking plates. By means of a muscular foot they adhere and crawl over rock surfaces. Chitons graze on attached algae that they scrape off with a feeding device called a radula.
Chiton species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Lined Chiton (Tonicella lineata)
>Woody Chiton (Mopalia lignosa)
>Black Katy Chiton (Katharina tunicata)
>Mossy Chiton (Mopalia muscosa)
>Giant Pacific Chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri)

Cryptochition stelleri

Katharina tunicata

Mopalia lignosa

Tonicella lineata

Mopalia muscosa
Class Bivalvia
Bivalves have 2 hinged shells each called a valve, hence the name bi (two) valve. Among those that burrow, they have a large foot adapted for burrowing. All are filter feeders. The gills of these animals create a water current that brings water into the shell cavity. Food particles are then trapped and conveyed to the mouth.
Bivalves common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Heart Cockle (Clinocardium nuttallii)
>Japanese Littleneck Clam (Venerupis philippinarum)
>Pacific Littleneck Clam (Protothaca staminea)
>Butter Clam (Saxidomus gigantea)
>Bent-Nose Macoma (Macoma nasuta)
>Pointed Macoma (Macoma inquinata)
>Baltic Macoma (Macoma balthica)
>White Sand Macoma (Macoma secta)
>Softshell Clam (Mya arenaria)
>Dark Mahogany Clam (Nuttallia obscurata)
>Plain Tellin (Tellina modesta)
>Red Nose (Hiatella arctica)
>Rock Entodesma (Entodesma saxicola)
>Fat Gaper (Horse clam) (Tresus capax)
>Pacific Gaper (Horse Clam) (Tresus nuttallii)
>Pacific Geoduck (Panopea abrupta or generosa)
>Pacific Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis complex)
>Pacific or Japanese Oyster (Crassostrea gigas)
>Green False-Jingle (Pododesmus macrochisma)

Mya arenaria

Mytilus edulis complex

Clinocardium nuttallii

Saxidomus gigantea

Littleneck clams

Macoma nasuta

Macoma secta

Tresus sp.

Crassostrea gigas
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Crustacea, (barnacles, crabs, shrimp)
These animals have an external skeleton. Their bodies are divided into well defined segments with jointed appendages. Growth occurs in stages and with each stage of growth, the exoskeleton is shed and a new one secreted.
Barnacles common to Strait of Georgia:
>Common Barnacle (Balanus glandula)
>Thatched barnacle (Semibalanus cariosus)
>Brown Barnacle (Chthamalus dalli)

Semibalanus cariosus
Crabs common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Hairy Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus oregonensis)
>Purple Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus nudus)
>Black Clawed Crab (Lophopanopeus bellus)
>Northern Kelp Crab (Pugettia producta)
>Decorator Crab (Oregonia gracilis)
>Hermit Crab (Pagurus species)
>Porcelain Crab (Petrolisthes eriomerus)
>Slender Cancer Crab (Cancer gracilis)
>Red Rock Crab (Cancer productus)
>Dungeness Crab (Cancer magister)
>Pea Crab (Pinnixa faba)

Hemigrapsus nudus

Pugettia producta

Pagurus sp.
Shrimp common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Broken Back Shrimp (Heptacarpus kincaidi)
>Crangon Shrimp (Crangon species)
>Blue Mud Shrimp (Upogebia pugettensis)
>Bay Ghost Shrimp (Neotrypaea californiensis)

Phylum Echinodermata (sea stars, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, sea urchins)
All animals in this phylum are characterized by a 5-part radially symmetric body plan. All have rows of tube feet, which are used to adhere to surfaces. Movement of tube feet and other parts of the body are achieved by a system of internal canals forming a water-vascular system.
Class Asteroidea (sea stars)
Sea stars common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Purple Star (Pisaster ochraceus)
>Mottled Star (Evasterias troschelii)
>Six-Armed Star (Leptasterias hexactis)
>Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula)
>Sunflower Star (Pycnopodia helianthoides)
>Leather Star (Dermasterias imbricata)

Pisaster ochraceus

Evasterias troschelii

Pycnopodia helianthoides
Class Ophiuroidea (brittle stars and basket stars)
Species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Daisy Brittle Star (Ophiopholis aculeata)


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Class Echinoidea (sea urchins and sand dollars)
Species common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Green Urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis)
>Red Urchin (Strongylocentrotus francisanus)
>Sand Dollar (Dendraster excentricus)

Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis
Class Holothuroidea ( sea cucumbers)
Sea cucumbers common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Orange Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria miniata)
>White Sea Cucumber (Eupentacta quinquesemita)
>Orange chiton cucumber (Psolus chitonoides)

Cucumaria miniata

Eupentacta quinquesemita
Phylum Urochordata (in larval phase have a dorsal nerve cord similar to Chordates or animals with backbones)
Class Ascidiacea (sea squirts)
These animals have rounded sac-like bodies with two siphons. They may occur in colonies or as individuals. Water and microscopic food particles are filtered through one siphon while water and waste flow out through the other.
Sea squirts common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Sea Pork (Aplidium californicum)
>Shiny Orange Sea Squirt (Cnemidocarpa finmarkiensis)
>Wrinkled Sea Squirt (Pyura haustor)

Sea Squirts
Phylum Chordata (animals with backbones)
Class Actinopterygii (bony fishes)
Bony fishes common to the Strait of Georgia that are likely to be found in tidepools and under rocks in the low intertidal zone.
Sea squirts common to the Strait of Georgia:
>Gunnels (blennies) (Pholidae family)
>Crescent Gunnel (Pholis laeta)
>Penpoint Gunnel (Apodichthys flavidus)
>High Cockscomb (Anoplarchus purpurescens)
>Northern Clingfish (Gobiesox maeandricus)
>Sculpins (Cottidae family)
>Pacific Staghorn Sculpin (Leptocottus armatus)
>Sand Sole (Psettichthys melanostictus)
>Plainfin Midshipman (Porichthys notatus)


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