Red-flecked Mopalia    Mopalia spectabilis



This small, multi-shelled snail is one of eleven closely related chitons (genus Mopalia) that can be found in our area.  This one inch specimen can grow up to 2.5 inches while other mopalia go up to 4 inches.  It is characterized by fuzzy hairs that protrude from the fleshy part of the body (girdle) that surrounds the multiple shells distributed along the back and the red and turquoise colors on the margin of the shells.


This species inhabits the intertidal zone as well as the subtidal to a depth of 100 ft.  It ranges from Alaska to northern Mexico.


Chitons are primitive snails that are well adapted to resist waves and high currents by using their large foot and flattened surface to hold themselves in place.  They have eight overlapping plates which allows their body to conform to irregular rocky surfaces.  They lack eyes or tentacles.  They eat a variety of small algae and organisms that are scraped off rocks with their tongue called a radula.  The radula is like a ribbon with file-like teeth.