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Life on the Rocky Shores

of south-eastern Australia


Front cover main photo: Giant Kelp, John Sampson. Front cover inset photo: White-striped anemone, Perry Davis. Back cover photo: Robe, South Australia, Christine Porter.


Life on the Rocky Shores

of south-eastern Australia


Published by the Victorian National Parks Association, 2010 Level 3, 60 Leicester St, Carlton, Victoria 3053. Telephone: 03 9347 5188. Website: www.vnpa.org.au. About the authors Dr Christine Porter has a PhD in environmental management from Deakin University, with a special interest in marine and coastal environments. Dr Geoff Wescott is an Associate Professor of Environment at Deakin University’s Melbourne campus and Vice President of the Australian Coastal Society. Professor Gerry Quinn holds the Chair in Marine Biology at Deakin University and is based at the Warrnambool campus. All photos in this guide are by the authors unless otherwise credited. Copyright © owned by the authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the authors. First published 1980 by the authors (Wescott, G., Synnot, R., and Powell, H.). Second edition published 1992 by the Victorian National Parks Association (Quinn, G., Wescott, G., and Synnot, R.). National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication Data: Life on the Rocky Shores of south-eastern Australia the 3rd ed. Bibliography ISBN 978-1-875100-28-6 1. Intertidal flora – Australia – Identification. 2. Intertidal fauna – Australia – Identification. I Author 1. II Author 2. III Author 3. IV. Victorian National Parks Association. V. Titled Printed by GEON Impact, Melbourne.

Life on the Rocky Shores


Contents Preface and acknowledgements.................................................... 5 How to use this book..................................................................... 6 Safety on the shore . ..................................................................... 7 Conservation code......................................................................... 8 Intertidal ecology........................................................................... 9 Human impacts............................................................................ 13 Marine parks................................................................................ 14 Scientific names and classifications.............................................. 17 Blue-green algae.......................................................................... 18 Plants.......................................................................................... 19 Brown algae (Heterokontophyta)................................................... 19 Red algae (Rhodophyta)................................................................ 32 Green algae (Chlorophyta)............................................................. 34 Seagrasses................................................................................... 43 Lichens......................................................................................... 44 Animals....................................................................................... 45 Sponges (Porifera)........................................................................ 45 Sea anemones (Anthozoa)............................................................. 46 Flatworms (Platyhelminthes)......................................................... 49 Segmented worms (Polychaeta).................................................... 50 Ribbon worms (Nemertina)........................................................... 55 Shellfish (Mollusca)....................................................................... 56 Chitons – shell of 8 plates (Polyplacophora).................................. 56 Abalone and limpets (Gastropods with flat shell) .......................... 59 Life on the Rocky Shores


Contents Limpet-like air breathers (Pulmonate gastropods)......................... 67 Coiled shells (Gastropods with coiled shells)................................. 70 Whelks (Gastropods with pointed shells)....................................... 77 Shellfish with two shells (Bivalves)................................................ 84 Octopus (Cephalopoda)................................................................. 87 Hard shell and jointed limbs (Crustacea)....................................... 88 Barnacles..................................................................................... 88 Sea slaters (Isopoda).................................................................... 95 Crabs (Decapoda)......................................................................... 96 Bryozoa.......................................................................................103 Echinodermata............................................................................104 Urchins (Echinoidea)....................................................................104 Sea stars (Asteroidea)..................................................................106 Brittle stars (Ophiuroidea)............................................................112 Sea cucumbers (Holothuroidea)...................................................113 Chordates....................................................................................114 Sea squirts (Ascidiacea)...............................................................114 Egg masses.................................................................................116 Rockpools....................................................................................118 Flotsam and jetsam.....................................................................120 Glossary......................................................................................122 Further reading............................................................................124 Index of scientific names.............................................................125

Life on the Rocky Shores


Preface and acknowledgements

T

his is the third edition of ‘Life on the Rocky Shores’. The first two editions sold over 25,000 copies following first publication in 1980. The current authors want to acknowledge and thank two original authors – Russell Synnot (editions 1 and 2) and Heather Powell (edition 1) – for the very solid foundation on which this fully revised edition is based. ‘Life on the Rocky Shores’ was first produced to help visitors enjoy our intertidal wonderlands without having to remove any organisms from the shore, and to create a greater understanding of the animals and plants that live there and how to conserve them. This third edition has more pages, is in full colour and has been updated to late 2009. For these improvements the authors are indebted to the Victorian National Parks Association. The authors are grateful to John Sampson for the eye-catching new design, Michael Howes for editorial comment, and Fiona Clissold, Ty Matthews, Perry Davis, Bruce Weir, Rebecca Koss and Ben Roennfeldt for supplying photographs. To everyone who urged us to produce a new edition after the last one went out of print some time ago ... thank you! Life on the Rocky Shores


How to use this book

T

his book is designed to help you identify common organisms on intertidal rocky shores in southeastern Australia. As such, it is a convenient size to be carried in the field. We recommend that all readers peruse the sections on intertidal ecology and conservation. We suggest newcomers to biology should read the explanatory notes on classification before using this book for identification. For the first-time user of this guide, we have identified the 25 most commonly seen species with bold type in the index (pp 125-128). The novice might like to start with these species. Some of the more scientific terminology in this book is explained in the glossary (pages 122-123). The books listed in ‘Further reading’ (page 124) contain a wealth of additional information about intertidal organisms and their ecology. We urge you to consult them. The species’ ranges in this guide are largely based on the authors’ observations and species distribution information provided in Edgar (2008).

Life on the Rocky Shores


Safety on the shore

R

ocky shores are fascinating places to explore but can be hazardous to the uninitiated. You can reduce the risk of accidents by taking some simple precautions. • Some rocks are sharp enough to cut bare feet, while others are slippery. Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles. • Wear strong clothing to minimise the risk of cuts from sharp or jagged rocks. Carry a waterproof or windproof jacket to protect against hypothermia. • Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt and sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Wash the sunscreen off your hands before you handle intertidal creatures, as the chemicals may harm them. • Observe prevailing weather and sea conditions. Always face the sea and watch out for larger than expected waves. Be aware that parts of the shore can quickly be isolated by the incoming tide. • Never place bare hands or feet in pools and crevices. Some intertidal animals have sharp spines; others can be venomous (e.g. the Blue-ringed Octopus).

Life on the Rocky Shores


Blue-green algae Rivularia firma

Kingdom: Monera* Division: Cyanobacteria Range WA, SA, Victoria, NSW, Tasmania Appearance R. firma grows as firm but slimy, gelatinous, dark green to black globular colonies that are slippery when wet. The colonies comprise bacteria-like cells – they do not contain nuclei – in a jelly-like matrix. Habitat and ecology This blue-green alga grows in the upper intertidal zone. It is seasonal, appearing late spring through to autumn, and is harvested for its pharmaceutical properties. Blue-green algae are amongst the very oldest organisms on earth. * Minute single-celled organisms with cell walls but no distinct nucleus – this kingdom includes bacteria.

Life on the Rocky Shores


Sinuous ballweed, Globe alga

Kingdom: Protista Phylum: Heterokontophyta Order: Scytosiphonales Range Australia-wide and world-wide Appearance Globular when young, this plant grows lobes as it matures to become convoluted in appearance. The air-filled bladder-like masses are attached to rocks or other plants by an irregular crusty base. Colour may be yellow, olive green, or light brown. A species with similar appearance is Leathesia difformis, but the latter has a slimy texture and is more gelatinous. Habitat and ecology This species grows in the mid to low intertidal zone and is more common in summer.

Life on the Rocky Shores

algae

Colpomenia sinuosa


Red waratah

Actinia tenebrosa

Phylum: Cnidaria Class: Anthozoa Range WA, SA, Victoria, NSW, Tasmania Appearance Actinia tenebrosa often appears as a smooth, shiny, deep red blob with a paler central dot, as the light red tentacles are retracted inside the body during low tide. Individuals may be up to 4 centimetres in diameter when the column (body) is extended. Habitat and ecology Individuals of this species are found in crevices and pools in the mid to upper intertidal zones on moderately exposed shores. Reproduction is either by brooding young that are released onto nearby rock, or by releasing larvae into the sea for wider dispersal. This species feeds on any small animals or dead material that drift close enough to be captured by stinging cells fired from the tentacles.

Life on the Rocky Shores


Shell-grit anemone, Speckled anemone

Phylum: Cnidaria Class: Anthozoa Range SA, Victoria, NSW, Southern Queensland, Tasmania, New Zealand Appearance The column of individuals of this species is often buried in sand-filled cavities on the rock surface. The exposed grey-white tentacles (often blotchy) are usually covered with particles of sand and broken shells (shell-grit). Individuals grow up to 8 centimetres in diameter. Habitat and ecology This species is found in sand-filled crevices and cavities in the mid to low intertidal zone on sheltered to moderately exposed rocky shores. It feeds on small mussels that have become dislodged from surrounding mussel beds.

Life on the Rocky Shores

animals

Oulactis mucosa


This is just a digital preview of the printed field guide Life on the Rocky Shores. To order your own copy of this 128 page, full-colour book phone the Victorian National Parks Association on 03 9347 5188 or order online from the VNPA’s books catalogue.

Life on the Rocky Shores


Life on the Rocky Shore