Nutall Chiton

Nuttallina californica





The Nuttallina californica is a temperate chiton that is colored black with an occasional white strip down the sides of the dorsal ridge.  While the girdle of the chiton is wide and covered with short dark spinelets, the valves are either eroded or covered with encrusting algae.  The approximate body length can get up to 5.1 cm.  While the general habitat includes the rocky intertidal zone, the geographic distribution ranges from Puget Sound to Mexico.   The Nuttal Chiton remains within crevices or within barnacles and mussels.  As larvae, the Nuttallina californica exists within a planktonic form until metamorphose in which the adults settle on the benthic floor.  The only photosensor organ that adult chitons have are aesthetes.  Aesthetes are thought to be light sensing organs (3).


(3) De Bie, M. S. 1991. The relationship between aesthete number and observed photoresponse behavior of chitons Nuttallina californica(Reeves, 1847) and Cyanoplax hartwegii(Carpenter, 1885)(mollusca, polyplacophora). California State University, Stanislaus.

(Photographs) © 2007 Gary McDonald


  •       Rocky Intertidal Zone