Lately I’ve been wishing I could be a marine biologist. This Mossy Chiton next to a limpet are just two of the amazing creatures I’ve been observing at low tide. For months we only had low tide in the middle of the night, and suddenly we’ve had a few in the afternoon. I’ve been spending a couple of hours every day studying boulders covered in barnacles and turning over rocks to find Purple Encrusting Sponges, Aggregating Anemones, a variety of molluscs, and tiny crabs with unknown names. Some I can identify in my library book, but can you believe it only shows four different chitons? I need a better reference book to find more, since there are 600 to 900 species of chitons in the world, all with eight plates on their backs, surrounded by the oval “girdle.” If you can pry one from a rock and turn it over, the Mossy Chiton is bright orange. If a gull has eaten the soft orange “foot,” a turquoise shell remains... unless the gull has swallowed it whole, which I’ve also seen! Sometimes I find a single turquoise plate on the beach, and three times an empty Mossy Chiton shell. Before moving to Washington, I had only seen one Giant Pacific Chiton, rolled up like a softball-sized “roly poly” pill bug. Now I find them fairly often washed up on the shore. Chitons look prehistoric, and I just learned there are over 400 species of fossilized chitons. My goal is to see a Lined Chiton, the pop art member of the Pacific Northwest chiton family. Or to become a marine biologist.

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