Prickly jingle

Prickly jingle

Bivalves Heteranomia squamula Most bivalves bury into sandy or muddy bottoms for protection. Some live on much more special surface. The prickly jingle attaches itself to rocks, other shells or other solid material. Both shells usually look the same in bivalves, but...
Mysids

Mysids

Crustaceans Mysida The mysids are similar to krill or small shrimps or in appearance and size, but are only distantly related to them. The main thing that sets them apart is some kind of pouch under the female body where they store the eggs. In zooplankton samples,...
Green sea urchin

Green sea urchin

Projects Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis Sea urchins have a hard and rigid exoskeleton. They are also covered with spines for protection. They are grazers or detritus feeders. Two species of echinoderms have been harvested in Icelandic waters, green sea urchin and...
Norway lobster

Norway lobster

Invertebrates Nephrops norvegicus This species is also frequently called nephrops lobster and sometimes also langoustine or scampi. Distribution This lobster is widespread in the northeast Atlantic, from the mid part of Norway and south into the Mediterranean Sea. In...
Common sunstar

Common sunstar

Starfishes Crossaster papposus Unlike all other starfishes in Icelandic waters, the sunstars have more than five arms (see also the purple sunstar). In fact, the number of arms differ by individuals, in the common sunstar they are usually 10 to 12. The common sunstar...
Purple sun star

Purple sun star

Starfishes Solaster endeca The purple sunstar is also called the northern sunstar. Unlike most other starfishes in Iceland (except for the common sunstar), the purple sunstar has more than five arms. In fact, they differ by individual but are usually 8 to 10. It can...
Blood star

Blood star

Starfishes Henricia sanguinolenta The blood star is a small or medium sized starfish that can be beautifully red or purple in colour. It is slim and the skin relatively smooth compared to the common starfish. The blood star lives in the entire northern hemisphere,...
Barnacles

Barnacles

Crustaceans Cirripedia Only one group of crustaceans are sessile, the barnacles. Their appearance is so special that many people do not realize that they are crustaceans. Because they make shells, many people rather associate them with the totally unrelated molluscs....
Greenland cockle

Greenland cockle

Bivalves Serripes groenlandicus Several large bivalve species in Icelandic waters could be harvested if found in sufficient quantities. That applies to the Greenland cockle. It lives for the most part buried in soft bottom sediments in shallow seas to a depth of about...
Common tortoise limpet

Common tortoise limpet

Invertebrates Testudinalia testudinalis Some snail species are not particularly snail like. The limpets are different from other slugs in that the shell is cap-shaped but not coiled. Their underside is like a suction cup and they use that to attach themselves to rocks...
Frilled anemone

Frilled anemone

Cnidarians Metridium senile The frilled anemone resembles a beautiful flower but is really an animal. Anemones are common on the hard bottom types around Iceland and the frilled anemone is one of the most common. The frilled anemone has very fine and delicate arms and...
Dahlia anemone

Dahlia anemone

Cnidarians Urticina felina The dahlia anemone is not a flower or a plant, it is an animal and it is a predator. However, similar to some plants (such as the nettle), people can also burn themselves by touching the anemones. The dahlia anemone is a cnidarian like...
Scale worms

Scale worms

Invertebrates Polynoidae Scale worms are bristle worms that do not look much like worms, as they are flat, broad and often hairy. As their name implies they are covered by scales along their entire back for protection. They do not bury into the sediment as most other...
Common starfish

Common starfish

Starfishes Asterias rubens Starfishes do not seem particularly cruel at first sight. However, this is very misleading as most are actually vicious predators that live on other invertebrates, especially bivalves. They kill the bivalve by attaching suction feet, which...
Bristle worms

Bristle worms

Invertebrates Polychaeta Bristle worms are very common in the ocean and many are large and conspicuous. If you find a worm on the seashore, it is most likely a bristle worm. All of them have appendages (called parapodia) and bristles (hairs) on the appendages. These...
Nudibranchs

Nudibranchs

Invertebrates Nudibranchia Nudibranchs are a colourful and varied group of molluscs. In fact, they are sea slugs that have gotten rid of their shells. Instead, they protect themselves by being distasteful or poisonous. The colour is in fact a warning sign. They want...
Polar shrimp

Polar shrimp

Invertebrates Lebbeus polaris The polar shrimp is one of many shrimp species that thrive in ​​Icelandic waters. It is not harvested as the cold-water prawns, but some will say it is more beautiful. As the name implies, the polar shrimp prefers cold seas, so it is...
Scuds

Scuds

Invertebrates Amphipda The scuds are probably the best known and the most common crustaceans from the seashore. If rocks or pebbles are overturned, beach fleas (Gammarus spp.) can been seen wriggling around. Many species of scuds are known from all depths in Icelandic...
Hermit crabs

Hermit crabs

Crustaceans Paguroidea In contrast to most other crustaceans, hermit crabs have a soft and delicate body. In order to protect themselves from enemies, they live in empty snail shells they carry with them. It was believed that hermit crabs did not kill the snail to get...
Spider crabs

Spider crabs

Invertebrates Hyas spp. The most common crabs in Iceland are the lesser spider crab (Hyas coarctatus) and the great spider crab (Hyas araneus). They are very similar in appearance, but the larger one will be much larger as the name suggests (most, if not all of the...
European green crab

European green crab

Invertebrates Carcinus maenas The European green crab is a small, usually greenish, crab species that is common in Icelandic waters. It is particularly common along the warmer south coast of Iceland, but has also recently been found in colder seas on the north coast....
Squat lobsters

Squat lobsters

Invertebrates Munididae The squat lobsters are related to hermit crabs but have a hard shell and do not need an empty snail shell for cover. The squat lobsters look a bit like lobsters but are much smaller. Squat lobsters are common on hard bottoms all around Iceland....
Cold-water prawns

Cold-water prawns

Invertebrates Pandalus spp. Many shrimp (or prawn) species are found aound Iceland, but only one is fished, the northern prawn (Pandalus borealis). However, its smaller cousin, the Aesop prawn (Pandalus montagui) seen here is sometimes a by-catch. The Aesop prawn is...
Moss animals

Moss animals

Invertebrates Bryozoa Moss animals (bryozoan) are animals as the name suggests, but very similar to plants, as the name also indicates. Each moss animal individual is tiny, but they always form colonies. These colonies look like plants like the colonies of many other...
Brittle stars

Brittle stars

Invertebrates Ophiuroidea Brittle stars are closely related to starfishes but smaller and more mobile. They have a circular central plate with five narrow arms extending from the plate. They can walk on these arms and are therefore more mobile compared to other...
Isopods

Isopods

Invertebrates Isopoda Isopods are similar in size as related amphipods. The groups, however, can be distinguished by the fact that amphipods are usually tall and narrow (except for the skeleton shrimps) but the isopods are usually low and wide. Isopods can be found...
Comb jellies

Comb jellies

Comb jellies Ctenophora Comb jellies look like jelly fishes but are unrelated and usually smaller. The most common species look like barrels or balls with eight rows of cilia along their entire body. These move synchronized for swimming. The comb jellies are efficient...
Tunicates

Tunicates

Invertebrates Tunicata Of all invertebrates, the tunicates (urochordata) are the closest relatives to humans. There is no resemblance in adult tunicates. However, the larvae stage is very unlike the adult stage and looks like a tadpole. Tunicates are in fact in the...
Blue mussel

Blue mussel

Invertebrates Mytilus edulis The blue mussel is widely distributed all around Iceland. It is purely a seashore or shallow water species, found from the seashore down to depths of a few metres. It is attached to the bottom by filaments called byssus threads. It is...
Northern horse mussel

Northern horse mussel

Invertebrates Modiolus modiolus The northern horse mussel is very similar to the blue mussel in appearance but is considerably larger. Their ways of living are similar, as they are closely related. The horse mussel is found all around the country, but are generally...
Lion’s mane jellyfish

Lion’s mane jellyfish

Cnidarians Cyanea capillata Six to seven species of jellyfish live around Iceland. They are most common during late summer and autumn when most of the benthic polyps develop into the larger pelagic medusa stages. Jellyfish are the largest zooplankton and frequently...
Skeleton shrimps

Skeleton shrimps

Invertebrates Caprellidae Sandhoppers (order amphiopoda) are probably the most well-known and also the most common crustaceans from the seaashore. If rocks are turned and kelp shaken sandhoppers can be seen hopping around. The most peculiar type is probably the...
Sponges

Sponges

Invertebrates Porifera Sponges are probably the least animal-like of all animals. They are in fact the most primitive of the multicellular animals. They lack all internal organs, a neural system and sensory organs and look a bit like a colony of single celled animals....
European edible sea urchin

European edible sea urchin

Echinoderms Echinus esculentus The sea urchins are the most studied echinoderms in Iceland waters and several species are known. The most common species in shallow water are the green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) and European edible sea urchin (both...
Neptune whelk

Neptune whelk

Invertebrates Neptunea despecta Many types of whelks are found here in Icelandic waters. For example, the neptune whelk is among the largest and also verycommon. Unlike the common whelk, the neptune whelk has a venous gland that needs to be removed before eating. HÞV...
Common whelk

Common whelk

Invertebrates Buccinum undatum The common whelk is a large-sized snail that can reach up to 15 cm height. Distribution It is found all around Iceland over a wide depth range, from the seashore down to several hundred m depths. It is also in European waters from the...
Sea cucumber

Sea cucumber

Echinoderms Holothuroidea Not many echinoderm species occur in Icelandic waters but they are large and conspicuous animals, and therefore among the best known of marine invertebrates. The five groups of echinoderms have quite different habits, but all have similar...
Ocean quahog

Ocean quahog

Molluscs Arctica islandica Distribution The ocean quahog is found all around Iceland on sand or mud bottom at depths of 5 to 50 m. It also occurs deeper. The ocean quahog has a wide global distribution. It is found in European waters from the White Sea in the north to...
Blue mussel

Blue mussel

Invertebrates Mytilus edulis The blue mussel is widely distributed all around Iceland. It is purely a seashore or shallow water species, found from the seashore down to depths of a few metres. Ecology It is attached to the bottom by filaments called byssus threads. It...
Hydrozoans

Hydrozoans

Hydrozoans Hydrozoa The cnidarians have a very simple construction but contain some internal organs as well as a primitive neural system. Cnidarians come in many sizes but basically only in two shapes. Either as benthic polyps that look like flowers or pelagic medusa...

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