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Low Shore Fringe
Eastern Warm Temperate Zone

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.

Graphic of the Tidal Zones on a rocky ocean shore

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.


Small photo of a CunjevoiThe 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.

Green Algae:

The most common forms of green algae are Sea Lettuce, Globe Algae, Doubling Weed, Sausage Weed, Caulerpa and Green Sea Velvet.

Small photo of Sea LettuceSea Lettuce, Ulva spp.


Small photo of Globe AlgaeGlobe Algae, Colpomenia sinuosa


Small photo of  Doubling WeedDoubling Weed, Dictyota dichotoma


Small photo of Sausage WeedSausage Weed, Splachnidium rugosum


Small photo of Caulerpa algaCaulerpa, Caulerpa filiformis


Small photo of  Green Sea VelvettGreen Sea Velvet, Codium fragile


Brown Algae

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.

Small photo of Leather KelpLeather Kelp, Eklonia radiata


Small photo of Strap WeedStrap Weed, Phyllospora comosa


Small photo of PadinaPadina, Padina pavonea


Red Algae

The most common types of red algae are the various forms of coralline algae, and encrusting corallines.

Small photo of Coralline SeaweedCoralline Seaweed , Corallina officinalis


Small photo of Encrusting CorallinesEncrusting 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".

Small photo of the Reef Crab The Reef Crab, Ozius truncatus is often found sheltering in boulder fields. It looks fearsome, but in fact is quite docile.


Small photo of the Seaweed Decorator CrabIt 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.

Small photo of the Tubercled CrabThe Tubercled Crab, Nectocarcinus tuberculosus, is a spectacularly adorned purple crab, that looks as if it is covered with large numbers of colourful bumps.

Small photo of the Red Bait CrabThe Red Bait Crab, Plagusia chabrus , is a favourite of rock fishermen, and may become endangered unless numbers are accurately monitored.

Small photo of the SowrieThe 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.

Small photo of Yellow ChitonYellow Chiton, Onthichiton quercinus


Small photo of Mysterious ChitonMysterious Chiton, Cryptoplax mystica


Small photo of Common Ear Shell or AbaloneCommon Ear Shell or Abalone, Haliotis rubra


Small photo of Elephant SnailElephant Snail, Scutus antipodes


Small photo of Common WarrenerCommon Warrener, Turbo undulata


Small photo of Cart-rut ShellCart-Rut Shell, Dicathais orbita


Small photo of Spengler's Rock WhelkSpenglers 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.

Small photo of the Common Sea UrchinCommon Sea Urchin, Heliocidaris erythrogramma


Small photo of the Thickened Sea UrchinThickened Sea Urchin, Holophneustes pycnotilus



Small photo of a BrittlestarBrittlestar, Ophionereis schayeri


Small photo of Chirodota a holothurianChiridota, Chiridota gigas




Small photo of Eunice a wormEunice, Eunice aphroditois


Small photo of a Bristle WormBristle Worm or Fire Worm, Eurythoe complanata


Small photo of a Scale WormScale Worm, Lepidonotus melanogrammus


Small photo of a Peanut WormPeanut Worm, Phascalosoma noduliferum




Small photo of SpongesSponges



Increased Habitats

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.


Tidal Levels

Splash-Fringe Level
The Tidal Zone
High-Tide level
Mid-Tide Level
Low-Tide Level
Low fringe Level
Marine Zone

Home Page
Rocky Shores
Tidal Levels
Intertidal Zonation
Environmental Factors
Biological Factors
Feeding Relationships


photo of Keith DaveyLife on Australian Seashores
by Keith Davey (C) 2000

Learning Consultant - Media
The University of Newcastle

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Scientific Consultant: Phil Colman
site created 01.01.98 : updated 01.04.2000