California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Life History Information for Selected California Marine Invertebrates and Plants

Species

Primary depth range in feet
( x 0.305 = meters)

Primary Geographic range within state using four regions

Habitat Preference juveniles

Habitat Preference adults

Unique or significant life history characteristics

Larval type

Larval duration
[potential larval dispersal]

Potential for adult dispersal

Crab, box

0-1800

All regions, including islands

rocky reef, submarine canyons

rocky reef, submarine canyons

unknown

planktonic

unknown

unknown

Crab, brown rock

0-300

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rock crabs may live 5-6 years

planktonic

3-4 months

moderate

Crab, Dungeness

0-750

N,NC,SC

sand, sand-mud, estuaries

sand, sand-mud

larvae may be transported more than 50 miles offshore

planktonic

105-125 days

moderate

Crab, red rock

0-750

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, submarine canyons

rocky reefs, submarine canyons

may co-occur with spot prawns miles offshore

planktonic

3-4 months

moderate

Crab, sand

Intertidal

All regions, including islands

intertidal, shallow subtidal sand

intertidal, shallow subtidal sand

larvae may occur with Dungeness crab larvae

planktonic

unknown

low

Crab, spider
(sheep crab)

20-410

South

rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

cease molting after reaching maturity

planktonic

unknown

moderate-high

Crab, yellow rock

0-300

South

sand, soft bottom

sand, soft bottom

egg-bearing females may congregate in rock-sand interface habitat

planktonic

3-4 months

moderate

Lobster, California

0-240

South, mainland and islands

surf grass beds

rocky reef, kelp beds, eel grass beds

egg-bearing females generally found in shallow water

planktonic

5-9 months

moderate-high

Prawn, spot

150-1,600

All regions, including islands

shallower mud, mud-sand, sand/rock. rocky reef, submarine canyons

mud, mud-sand, sand/rock. rocky reef, submarine canyons

change sex from male to female during year 4

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Prawn, ridgeback

145-525

South; mainland and islands

sand, shell, green mud

sand, shell, green mud

positive response to El Nio conditions

planktonic

unknown

low

Shrimp, bay
(several species)

0-575

All regions

soft bottom, estuaries

soft bottom, estuaries

major prey item for fishes

planktonic

30-40 days

low-moderate

Shrimp, coonstripe
(several species)

60-600

N, NC

sand, gravel, rocky reef, submarine canyon

sand, gravel, rocky reef, submarine canyon

change sex from male to female during year 1 or 2

planktonic

unknown

moderate

Shrimp, ghost and mud shrimp
(several species)

Intertidal

All regions

sand, sand/mud, sand/gravel

sand, sand/mud, sand/gravel

form permanent burrows or impermanent tunnels

planktonic

unknown

low

Shrimp, ocean

150-1200

N,NC,SC: Oregon border to Pt. Arguello

green mud, mud-sand

green mud, mud-sand

change sex from male to female during year 2

planktonic

2.5 to 3 months

moderate

Cucumber, sea
(several species)

0-300

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, sand/mud

rocky reefs, sand/mud

do not form spawning aggregations

planktonic

51-91 days

low

Urchin, purple

0-300

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, kelp beds, under canopy of adults

rocky reefs, kelp beds

require high densities for successful spawning

planktonic

6-8 weeks

low

Urchin, red

Intertidal to 500

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, kelp beds, under canopy of adults

rocky reefs, kelp beds

require high densities for successful spawning

planktonic

6-8 weeks

low

Urchin, white

0-990

South, including islands

sand, eel grass beds

sand, eel grass beds

extremely efficient grazers on smaller algaes

planktonic

30-60 days

low

Abalone, black

Intertidal, 0-20

NC,SC,S

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

susceptible to withering syndrome disease

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, flat

20-70

All regions, including islands

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

generally a cryptic species

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, green

Intertidal, 0-30

South, mainland and islands

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

feed on drift algae

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, pink

Intertidal, 20-120

South, mainland and islands

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds, rock outcrops

rocky reefs, kelp beds, rock outcrops

generally occurs where water temp is above 14 C

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, pinto

Intertidal to 70

N,NC,SC

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

commonly found at approx. 4-inch length

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, red

Intertidal to 100

All regions, including islands

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds, boulder outcrops, under canopy of red urchins

rocky reefs, kelp beds, boulder outcrops

largest abalone species in the world

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, threaded

20-80

South, mainland and islands

crevices in rocky reefs, kelp beds

rocky reefs, kelp beds

some consider it a subspecies of Pinto abalone

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Abalone, white

80-200

South, mainland and islands

exposed rocky areas

exposed rocky areas

maximum age estimated at 40 years

planktonic

4-7 days

low

Squid, market

0 to at least 600

NC,SC,S

over soft bottom

over soft bottom

short-lived; average squid in commercial fishery is year old.

planktonic

unknown

high

Clam, California jackknife

Intertidal to

South, mainland and islands

sandy mud, estuaries

sandy mud, estuaries

occupies a permanent burrow

planktonic

unknown

low

Clam, chione
(several species)

Intertidal to 165

South, mainland and islands

sandy mud, estuaries

sandy mud, estuaries

smooth chione subject to habitat loss due to harbor development

planktonic

unknown

low

Clam, littleneck
(several species)

Intertidal

All regions, including islands

cobble beds

cobble beds

prized food item

planktonic

unknown

low

Clam, gaper
(several species)

Intertidal to 150

All regions

sand, sand/mud, estuaries

sand, sand/mud, estuaries

may live to 17 years

planktonic

unknown

low

Clam, geoduck

0-360

All regions

sand, sand/mud, estuaries

sand, sand/mud, estuaries

individuals may exceed 10 pounds

planktonic

2 weeks

low

Clam, Manila

Intertidal

All regions

sand, sand/mud, estuaries

sand, sand/mud, estuaries

introduced from Japan; important recreational species

planktonic

3 weeks

low

Clam, Pismo

Intertidal to 80

SC,S

exposed sand

exposed sand

primary prey item of California sea otters

planktonic

pelagic phase 2-3 days

low

Clam, razor

Intertidal and shallow subtidal

N,NC,SC

exposed sand

exposed sand

individuals can bury themselves in 7 seconds

planktonic

8 weeks

low

Clam, softshell

Intertidal

N,NC,SC

mud

mud

may have been introduced with eastern oyster

planktonic

unknown

low

Clam, Washington
(several species)

Intertidal to 100

All regions

sand/mud, estuaries

sand/mud, estuaries

known to concentrate paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin

planktonic

4 weeks

low

Cockles

Intertidal to 660

All regions, including islands

sand, sand/mud, mud, estuaries

sand, sand/mud, mud, estuaries

one species may live to 16 years

planktonic

unknown

low

Limpets

Intertidal to 100

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs

rocky reefs

some species may live 15 years

planktonic

less than 1 week

low

Mussels
(several species)

Intertidal to 130

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, pilings

rocky reefs, pilings

bio-accumulator of toxins

planktonic

1 month

low

Octopus
(several species)

Intertidal to 660

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

rocky reefs, kelp beds, soft bottom

eggs are attached to substrate and brooded by females

planktonic

1 month or less

low

Scallop, rock

Intertidal to 100

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, pier pilings, rock jetties

rocky reefs, pier pilings, rock jetties

intolerant of salinity less than 25 ppt

planktonic

5 weeks

low

Sea hare
(two species)

0-60

NC,SC,S

hard and soft bottom, kelp beds

hard and soft bottom, kelp beds

large nerve ganglia make them useful for research

planktonic

4-5 weeks

low

Sea stars
(many species)

Intertidal to deepest canyons

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs, hard bottom, sand

rocky reefs, hard bottom, sand

some species adapted to exposure at low tides

planktonic

unknown

low

Snail, moon

Intertidal to 500

All regions, including islands

soft bottom

soft bottom

has aquiferous system of spongy sinuses in foot

planktonic

2 weeks

low

Snail, top
(several species)

0-100

S

rocky reefs, kelp beds, including canopy

rocky reefs, kelp beds, including canopy

common in upper kelp canopy

planktonic

unknown

low

Snail, turban
(several species)

Intertidal to 250

All regions, including islands

shallower rocky reefs, kelp beds, including canopy

rocky reefs, kelp beds, including canopy

feeds primarily on kelp and coralline algae

planktonic

unknown

low

Whelk, Kellet's

0-230

South, including islands

rocky reefs, kelp beds, gravel, sand

rocky reefs, kelp beds, gravel, sand

spawning aggregations of up to 20 individuals occur in spring

planktonic

unknown

low

Worms (polychaetes)

Intertidal to deepest canyons

All

rocky reefs in mussel beds, cobble beds, soft bottom

rocky reefs in mussel beds, cobble beds, soft bottom

several species have toothed proboscis

planktonic

variable

low

Algae

Gelidium sp.
(many species)

Intertidal, to 100

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs

rocky reefs

may forms mats of algal turf

not applicable

not applicable

none

Gracilaria sp.
(many species)

Intertidal to 50

All regions, including islands

soft bottoms

soft bottoms

used as spawning substrate by herring in SF Bay

not applicable

not applicable

none

Porphyra sp.
(many species)

Intertidal to 100

All regions, including islands

rocky reefs

rocky reefs

may be common in high-energy surf zones

not applicable

not applicable

none

Sea palm

Intertidal

N,NC,SC

exposed rocky reefs

exposed rocky reefs

individuals can regenerate blades but not stipe

not applicable

not applicable

none

Kelp, giant

20-120

NC,SC,S

on sand and rock substrate

on sand and rock substrate

fronds may grow up to 24 inches per day

not applicable

not applicable

none

Kelp, bull

10-70

N,NC,SC

on rock or cobble substrate

on rock or cobble substrate

found where water temp is less than 60 F

not applicable

not applicable

none