When the tide is at its lowest, the Low Shore Fringe is the region where the waves are breaking.
Sometimes the animals and algae are covered by water and at other times they are exposed to the air.
Unlike all other intertidal creatures, Low Shore Fringe animals and algae do not remain exposed to the harmful effects of the sun for any length of time.
Most of the animals and algae partially exposed at low tide at the Low Shore Fringe are typically marine in lifestyle, with some of them being exposed to the air, more or less accidentally, when the tide is at its lowest. However, some species are adapted to being at their most common in this region.
The Cunjevoi, Pyura stolonifera, is a most unusual animal that is typical of the Low Shore Fringe in south-eastern Australia. It is commonly called the "sea-squirt" because it squirts you with water if you stand on it.
The Low Shore Fringe is the region of most intertidal algae. Here the three forms of algae may be found in abundance. There are examples of green algae, brown algae and red algae.
The most common forms of green algae are Sea Lettuce, Globe Algae, Doubling Weed, Sausage Weed, Caulerpa and Green Sea Velvet.
Sea Lettuce, Ulva spp.
Globe Algae, Colpomenia sinuosa
Doubling Weed, Dictyota dichotoma
Sausage Weed, Splachnidium rugosum
Caulerpa, Caulerpa filiformis
Green Sea Velvet, Codium fragile
The most common forms of brown algae in south-eastern Australia are Leather Kelp, Strap Weed and Padina. Along Victorian shores we find Bull Kelp.
Leather Kelp, Eklonia radiata
Strap Weed, Phyllospora comosa
Padina, Padina pavonea
The most common types of red algae are the various forms of coralline algae, and encrusting corallines.
Coralline Seaweed , Corallina officinalis
Encrusting Corallines, Corallinaceae spp.
Decapod crabs are also common at the low-shore fringe. They are mostly marine, but do venture into this region for a "feed".
The Reef Crab, Ozius truncatus is often found sheltering in boulder fields. It looks fearsome, but in fact is quite docile.
It is really hard to see the Seaweed Decorator Crab, Naxia tumida, unless it moves because it is so excellently camouflaged under a covering of snipped off algae and sponge.
The Tubercled Crab, Nectocarcinus tuberculosus, is a spectacularly adorned purple crab, that looks as if it is covered with large numbers of colourful bumps.
The Red Bait Crab, Plagusia chabrus , is a favourite of rock fishermen, and may become endangered unless numbers are accurately monitored.
The Sowrie, Plagusia glabra, is one of the most beautiful of the rocky ocean shore crabs. It has a fairly restricted distribution.
Some of the molluscs found here, either in gutters or rockpools, or under sheltered ledges are the algae-feeding Elephant Snail, Common Warrener, Common Ear Shell, and various chitons. Some carnivorous molluscs include the Cart-rut Shell, and Spengler's Rock Whelk.
Yellow Chiton, Onthichiton quercinus
Mysterious Chiton, Cryptoplax mystica
Common Ear Shell or Abalone, Haliotis rubra
Elephant Snail, Scutus antipodes
Common Warrener, Turbo undulata
Cart-Rut Shell, Dicathais orbita
Spenglers Rock Whelk, Cabestana spengleri
Also found in constantly wet gutters or rockpools are the Common Sea Urchin, the Thickened Sea Urchin and Eleven armed Sea star.
Common Sea Urchin, Heliocidaris erythrogramma
Thickened Sea Urchin, Holophneustes pycnotilus
Brittlestar, Ophionereis schayeri
Chiridota, Chiridota gigas
Eunice, Eunice aphroditois
Bristle Worm or Fire Worm, Eurythoe complanata
Scale Worm, Lepidonotus melanogrammus
Peanut Worm, Phascalosoma noduliferum
In areas where rocks and boulders are embedded in sand, or sandy mud, usually covered with abundant algae, in swiftly flowing water, an amazingly wide range of animals may be found. These animals are not truly intertidal, but may be accidentally exposed at low tide by a human turning over rocks. Here we may find colourful sponges, various types of colourful seastars, an amazing variety of chitons, colourful flatworms, spiny worms, peanut worms, etc. The abundance of different animals here is absolutely amazing.