Thursday, January 09, 2014

Beast of burden

Since I found a worm inside the shell of one of my limpets last month, I've been keeping a close eye on the whole limpet community, hoping to find another worm, maybe even to identify it.

I've seen a few, fleetingly. I'm working on getting photos.

Meanwhile, here's a badly overworked young limpet.

7 calcareous tubeworms on one poor limpet.

The limpet is about 2/3 the width of the blade of eelgrass, itself only 4 mm wide, making the limpet under 3 mm across, and the tubeworms under 1 mm. each. The worms themselves are pink or red; the white spiral tubes, are made of calcium carbonate. If the light is right, the colour of the live worm shows through.

Each worm is capped by a round lid, or operculum, visible on the one at the top in this photo. It hides the worm in case of danger or exposure, and also serves as a brood chamber for the young. It flips back for the worm to extend its feeding tentacles.

As I watched the limpet, it moved along the eelgrass blade, eating algae, seemingly undisturbed by the load on its back, probably weighing more than the limpet itself.

More limpet photos tomorrow.

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