Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Butter side up

The world under water is swarming with predators small and large, and to survive, an animal must be fast, poisonous, armed, encased in body armour, or securely fastened inside another structure. Limpets have opted for the body armour on top, with a solid attachment to a rock or other solid structure beneath.

They amble along, scraping away at their green dinners, unmolested under their domed roofs, ignoring the world around them. If I come across one moving and touch it gently, it immediately clamps itself down to the rock, and becomes immovable. Crabs pick at their shells hopelessly then; they can't break through.

But occasionally, a crab is fast enough to grab an edge before it is sealed to the rock, and tough enough to pry it up. The limpet tumbles to the floor beneath, and becomes dinner on the half-shell.

It's rare that a limpet survives the meal. But this one did.

And here he is, broken shell, torn mantle, and all, peacefully eating algae on the glass.

I don't know how he managed it: any time I've seen a dropped limpet, it was toast.

2 comments:

  1. Maybe something bigger than the crab happened by at just the right time. - Margy

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    Replies
    1. Starfish can pry limpets off the rocks, but they don't chip away at the edge of the shell. And there are no starfish in my tank, but there were three aggressive shore crabs, so I'm blaming them.

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