Miscellaneous Phyla of Rocky Shores  

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Haliclona
Haliclona sp. A (Hartman, 1975)
Phylum Porifera, Class Demospongiae, Order Haplosclerida, Family Chalinidae

Purple sponge; thin crust 2-3 mm thick with raised tubular oscula 1-3 mm diameter.

Moderately common on sides of rocks, but spotty in space and time; mid- to low intertidal zones, protected outer coast; only sponge to occur on open rock this high on the shore.

Geogr. Range: central to southern California
Synonyms: formerly thought to be the Atlantic Haliclona permollis
Similar species: this is the only sponge that lives this high in the intertidal zone; all other  sponges occur much lower and into the subtidal.

Image: dark brown crust is Petrocelis phase of (probably) Mastocarpus papillatus.

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Oscarella carmela
Oscarella carmela Muricy & Pearse 2004
Phylum Porifera, Class Demospongiae, Order Homosclerophorida, Family Plakinidae

Encrusting sponge; skeleton absent (no spiclules); thin soft slimy crust 2-3 mm thick, raised into small lumps or lobes; superficially resembles a compound ascidian; color tan to light brown or pale reddish orange; ovoid choanocyte chambers (only visible under a microscope).

Very patchy, on sides and underneath boulders submerged in tidepools in the high intertidal zone; also in aquarium facilities.

Geogr. Range: central California,  north at least to Vancouver
Synonyms:
Similar species: Halisarca sp. also lacks spicules but possesses elongate tubular choanocyte chambers.

Image: from underside of a boulder; white spots are spirorbid polychaetes.

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Phragmatopoma californica
Phragmatopoma californica (Fewkes, 1889)
Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta, Order Sabellida, Family Sabellariidae

Tubes 3-4 mm diameter of cemented sand grains with short purple tentacles & operculum protruding; worm to 5 cm; often in large aggregations (from gregarious larval settlement, not asexual division). 

Common; can form large reefs several meters across & >50 cm thick; mid- to low intertidal zones & subtidal; protected outer coast.

Geogr. Range: central California to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sabellaria cementarium is mostly subtidal, has golden tentacles instead of purple and doesn't form large reef-size aggregations.

Image: Cladophora (green tuft, top center), Mazzaella leptorhynchos (top, left of center), Anthopleura sola (right side)

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Dodecaceria fewkesi
Dodecaceria fewkesi Berkeley & Berkeley, 1954
Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta, Order Terebellida, Family Cirratulidae

Small to medium worm; 40 mm long, with dark green- black body; crown of 12 tentacles 1-2 mm in diameter surrounds mouth; colony forms by asexual fission of single original founder; at low tide hard solid masses of fused calcareous tubes resemble concrete riddled with tiny holes.

Locally abundant on rocks, mid- to low intertidal zones & subtidal; protected outer coast.

Geogr. Range: British Columbia to southern California
Synonyms:
Similar species: subtidal D. fewkesi grow as clusters of  larger erect tubes; smaller Dodecaceria concharum bore into calcareous material such as crustose corallines & do not occur in the intertidal zone.

Image: contracted Anthopleura elegantissima (across top).

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Nereis grubei
Nereis grubei (Kinberg, 1866)
Phylum Annelida, Class Polychaeta, Order Phyllodocida, Family Nereidae

Segmented worm, to 100 mm long; often bright green/blue-green with large prostomial palps & eversible proboscis with jaws.  

Common but cryptic; builds mucus tubes in algal fronds, holdfasts, or mussel beds in mid-intertidal to subtidal zones; omnivorous.  Individual in photo is becoming  reproductive (epitokous) as evidenced by it's pinkish posterior end and enlarged eyes on head.

Geogr. Range: British Columbia to Mexico; Peru
Synonyms:
Similar species: numerous spp. of mobile "errant" polychaetes live on rocky shores, but most are cryptic, small, or both.

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Phascolosoma
Phascolosoma agassizii Keferstein, 1867
Phylum Sipuncula, Family Phascolosomatidae

Peanut worm. Small bulbous body with extensible tubular introvert (burrowed into shell rubble in photo); length 5-12 cm (half of which is introvert); mouth at end of introvert partially surrounded by short finger-like tentacles; body covered with short conical papillae; color tan to dk. brown w. dk. brown or purplish spots.

Abundant under rocks, among mussels, holdfasts, roots of surf grass, or nestled in crevices; mid- to low intertidal zones & subtidal; protected outer coast; deposit feeder.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: 

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Notocomplana acticola
Notocomplana acticola (Boone, 1929)
Phylum Platyhelminthes, Class "Turbellaria," Order Polycladida, Suborder Acotylea, Family Leptoplanidae

Flatworm, to 60 mm long (most < 30 mm) with tapering body; tan to pale gray with dk. brown markings near midline.

Most common intertidal flatworm; under rocks, lower portion of high to mid-intertidal zones; exposed & protected outer coast; very photonegative. Preys on small limpets, barnacles & other invertebrates.

Geogr. Range: California coast
Synonyms: Notoplana acticola
Similar species: numerous spp. of flatworms live on rocky shores, but most are rare or cryptic.

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Pseudoalloioplan californica
Pseudoalloioplana californica (Heath & McGregor, 1912)
Phylum Platyhelminthes, Class "Turbellaria," Order Polycladida, Suborder Acotylea, Family Planoceridae

Flatworm, to 24 mm long with firm oval body; tan to olive with reticulating dark brown branches of gut visible through body wall.

Moderately common, but intermittent; under rocks lying in gravel or shell rubble, upper mid-intertidal zones; exposed & protected outer coast; very photonegative. Probably preys on small snails & other invertebrates.

Geogr. Range: California coast
Synonyms: Alloioplana californica
Similar species: numerous spp. of flatworms live on rocky shores, but most are rare or cryptic.

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Page created by J.M. Watanabe
All images copyright James Watanabe unless otherwise indicated
Contact:  watanabe_at_stanford_dot_edu                                                                                                                                   Last  update: 26 January 2012