Monday, March 27, 2017

A quiet place to sleep

Limpets are amazing critters. Like their cousins the snails, they trundle along, waving two white antennae cheerfully, scrubbing away at stones, seaweeds, old shells, and, in the aquarium, the glass walls. Comes low tide, and they pull in the antennae, clamp themselves to those walls and stones, and go to sleep. Some have homes they go to: indentations in the rock, carved out with their teeth, spikes on a ribbon-like radula, scraping away at solid rock. Determined little beasties.

Limpet species can sometimes be identified by the shell pattern and shape. Not so easily when they're old, though; the surface gets battered and broken. The limpet inside is fine.

Young limpet, wearing a pale checkerboard pattern. Note the off-centre peak. Possibly a shield limpet, Lottia pelta*. And, lower left, an elongated, more delicate limpet.

In the aquarium, I can push sideways, gently, at a limpet on the glass. Its grip is weaker on this smooth surface, and I can slide it down to a spot I've already cleaned, without removing it from the glass. On a stone or shell, it's fixed in place; I can't move it without killing it.

On the beach, at low tide, they may as well be part of the stones they're clamped to.

The top limpet, a young'un, is probably the Mask limpet, Tectura persona. In the centre, a baby clam. I don't know what it's doing there.

A bashed, cracked,porous limpet shell. The peak is well to one side; the owner may be a slippersnail.

Another oldster. The pattern is almost gone, and the peak is off-centre. Another Mask, possibly.

The green colour is painted by algae. There's still a few hints of the original checkerboard pattern.

All these limpets were found in an area a few steps wide on the shore of Tyee Spit. I replaced the stones exactly as I found them; most of the limpets were hiding in the shade.

*Any of my limpet ids are extremely tentative.





1 comment:

  1. I've always liked limpets, don't know why. They sure have adapted to exposure at low tide. - Margy

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