The phylum Mollusca is large and diverse, encompassing ten different classes of animals. The animals are most commonly recognized as one of three different types: the bivalves, the univalves, and those without shells (or with very small internal shells, ex. slugs). Bivalves are mollusks with two shells such as clams and oysters. Univalves are animals with one shell such as a snail. Mollusks without shells include squid, banana slugs, and octopi.
The abalone is by far Point Reyes most famous specimen of Gastropoda. It is a beautiful marine snail that at one time was extremely abundant along the coast. Currently, there are very stringent restrictions on the collection of abalones in northern California. The banana slug is one of the most commonly spotted Gastropods at Point Reyes.
Point Reyes Seashore has the Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens), but like may inhabitants of the sea, it is almost never seen. They do live in intertidal areas, but spotting one is extremely rare and if you do, it is safest to not touch the animal. Another common cephalopod is the common squid, but don't expect to see this one either. They only will come towards the shore area to breed and then die.
Text by Kristen Truchinski
Watch the Searching for the Endangered Black Abalone in Northern California Soundslides presentation - February 15, 2012 - 4:33 minutes (~10.3 MB)