The Wet, The Wild, and The Latin:

-------Animal Species of Cattle Point------



Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula) This brightly colored echinoderm is found on rocky shores and offshore waters from Alaska to Baja. It feeds primarily on sponges and encrusting bryozoans. Both males and females are free spawners; once a year, the females release up to 2,500,000 eggs.




Bread Crumb Sponge (Halichondria spp.) This common intertidal sponge can be found in various colors, often taking on a blue to greenish tint. It may have a strong odor, resembling gunpowder to some perceptive noses. Sexual reproduction is prompted by water temperature and day length.



Christmas Tree Anemone (Urticina crassicornas and U. coriacea). Related to jellyfish and corals, anemones have stingers, or nematocysts, that help in feeding and defending against predators. The Christmas tree anemone feeds on crabs, bivalves, gastropods, and other invertebrates caught in its sticky grasp.



Coffin bryozoan (Membranipora membranacea).  These colonial animals are worth seeing under a microscope!  Superficially the colony will resemble a broad circle of coffins, but when the feeding tentacles of the animal emerge, the animal is quite active.  Genetically uniform, individuals in a colony are connected by a pore to colony neighbors. In this photo, a sea slug is seen feeding on a colony.


Common Northern Chink Shell (Lacuna variegata) The northern chink shell is found on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts and in the Arctic waters in between. You may see the egg masses, yellow circles about 5 millimeters, or a quarter of an inch, in diameter on algae in the intertidal zone. The snails are harder to find than their egg masses.


Decorator Crab (Oregonia gracilis) Decorator crabs use numerous organisms to defend themselves against predators. For more information on this fascinating species see the Decorator crab page.




Dogwinkle (Nucella spp.). Dogwinkles at Cattle Point feed primarily on barnacles. These gastropods drill through the thin plates, stun the barnacle, and suck out the tissue. This predation may increase diversity at Cattle Point, helping to limit the spread of barnacles throughout the lower intertidal zone.


Giant Feather Duster (Eudistylia polymorpha). This large polycheate worm, with bright tentacles that look like a feather duster, lives in long leathery tubes of sand and mucous. At low tide you may just see the tubes, which resemble fleshy snorkles emerging from crevices.



Gumboot Chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri).  The gumboot chiton is the largest chiton in the world, with its eight plates uncharacteristically completely covered by a fleshy mantle. These nocturnal grazers can live for more than twenty years. For more information visit this Animal diversity web page.



Hairy Chiton (Mopalia spp.).  Hairy chitons are named for the frilly appearance of the mantle edge.  They graze on both algae and small animals attached to the rocks. This is the only carnivorous chiton at Cattle Point.


Hermit Crab (Pagurus spp.) Unlike most crabs, hermit crabs have soft exoskeletons. These vulnerable crustaceans typically rely on the shells of gastropods for protection against predators. You are likely to see small hermit crabs scurrying at the bottom of tide pools throughout Cattle Point, especially below the surf grass.  When you see a "snail" moving faster than a snail's pace, it's probably a hermit crab in a snail shell.




Kelp Crab (Pugettia gracilis). The kelp crab may be difficult to see; it often poses beneath surf or eel grass, with a blade attached to its rostrum (the anterior part of the crab). Like the decorator crab, each time the crab molts, it must replace its camouflage.



Leather Chiton (Katharina tunicata). As you walk along the intertidal zone, you may see an animal that resembles a football sewn to the rock surface. The leather chiton, a slow-moving herbivore, holds to the rock surface using powerful retractor muscles and sticky mucus, which helps it resist predation.



Limy Ribbon Worm (Amphiporus formidabilis). Although this pale worm may look harmless, it is a voracious predator of other invertebrates. If you want to know more about ribbon worms, see False Bay.



Merten's Chiton (Lepidozona mertensii). Though not common at Cattle Point, Merten's chiton can be found under rocks in the intertidal zone.




California Mussel (Mytilus californianus). Mussels, like many bivalves, are filter feeders, trapping tiny food particles in the mucous on the gills. At low tide, however, they close up to protect against desiccation and predation, relying on spindle-like threads called byssus to anchor themselves in place.



Orange Ribbon Worm (Tubulanus spp.) Ribbon worms are found in crevices at Cattle Point, but are generally more common in the mud of bays and estuaries. If you want to know more about ribbon worms, see False Bay.




Red Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria miniata). Related to sea urchins, some sea cucumbers brood their young by carrying embryos on the outside of their body. At low tide, they are often found in crevices with their tentacles exposed around the mouth.




Pacific Plate Limpet (Notoacmaea scutum) These low-riding gastropods graze on algae, primarily at night. They creep along the rocks with a flat creeping foot.




Peanut Worm (Phylum Sipuncula). These unusual worms, only distantly related to other types of worms, are found in crevices, where they spend their entire lives feeding on detritus. Nestled in tight-fitting spaces, often only the mouth of the worm can be seen.


Red Crab (Cancer productus). Though named the red crab, these true crabs can range in color from to brown to gray to creamy white. Because its shell is so thick, it has not been exploited commercially.


Red Sponge (Ophlitaspongia pennata). This brightly colored sponge can be found in surge channels and under rocks in the lower intertidal.  There is often a small sea slug of the same color called Rostanga feeding on it.


Sea Slug (Discodoris sandiegensis). Sea slugs, or nudibranchs, are marine snails that have lost their shells. Discodoris feeds on Bread Crumb Sponges at Cattle Point. Their egg masses resemble a thick wavy pasta ribbon, often found in rocky crevises.




Six-rayed Seastar (Leptasterias hexactus). Found in the lower intertidal, the six-rayed sea star broods a small number of eggs during the winter. The young of this common seastar takes about three years to mature.




Spiral Tube Worm (Spirorbis spp.) Spiral tube worms are often found on mussels and under rocks. In Handy Joe's Crab Den, Owen claims there are billions. At high tide, these small tube worms spread their feather dusters, which help them collect small food particles.



Stiff-footed sea cucumber (Eupentacta quinquesemita). This small sea cucumber is often found under loose rocks. It collects small particles of food using its mucous covered tentacles. When threatened, the sea cucumber will quickly eviserate (expel) its stomach and internal organs as a way of attacking or distracting predators.




Sunflower seastar (Pycnopodia helianthoides) These pie-sized sea stars have thousands of tube feet that can help it to pry apart bivalves. Many invertebrates have developed elaborate defense mechanisms, from the somersault of the sea slug to the foot of the cockle clam, to escape this daunting predator.



Turtle Crab (Cryptolithodes sitchensis). With a Darth Vader-like carapace, the turtle crab ranges from Alaska to southern California. However, this slow-moving crab rarely leaves home, grazing on nearby sessile organisms.


 -------Algae and Plant Species of Cattle Point------


Rockweed (Fucus distichus). This common intertidal algae is abundant from late winter through autumn, dying back in midwinter. Eggs are formed in the swollen tips, which may break off and be carried away in currents.




Surf Grass (Phyllospadix scouleri). Surf grass, a relative of eel grass, is found in high-impact rocky shores, and uncommon on San Juan Island. Found from Alaska to Mexico, surf grass is often covered in Lacuan egg masses in summer.