Chiton – Polyplacophora
Photo & text Vebjørn Karlsen
Chitons are some of the most primitive marine molluscs found. Their back is covered with eight very closely placed overlapping plates. These plates protect them but are also flexible and they can curly into a ball if separated from the rock they are clinging to. They have specialized sensory organs coming through these plates and the underside is one big foot. In certain part of the world some eat chitons. There are larger species and they are prepared in a manner similar to abalone.
There are around 1.000 species in the group and you can found 13 in Norway. They are small, 1-5 cm and lives normally on rocks, mountains or in dark cavern. The feed from the algae they scrape up with its mouth and teeth. You can’t see it but they actually move around, but too slow for you to see on a dive.
Chitons have separate sexes. They either realize their sperms and eggs into the water, or some chitons brood the eggs within.
You can find them all over Saltstraumen but if you want to find them in great numbers go to Mørkvedbukta.