Who would have believed that the dowdy grey shell of the common winkle could contain such a handsome beast? This beautiful seashore creature with its wonderful striped antennae is a marine gastropod mollusc, the Common Winkle – Littorina littorea (Linnaeus). It was grazing on the stem of a Furbelows kelp holdfast which was providing both an amazing habitat and a food supply for many marine organisms. The sun was shining through the orange seaweed and the shell, providing a perfect counterfoil to the intricate black markings on the flesh of the winkle.
The holdfast had been washed up, minus the strap-like blades, onto Bran Point at the western edge of Ringstead Bay. The photograph above shows how it is still attached to a large boulder that is covered with ‘Pink Paint’ – a purple encrusting calcareous sponge known as Lithamnia.
The photograph below shows in a little more detail how the holdfast is being used as a habitat by these gastropods. Holdfasts are home to many more types of creature – which I will feature in these Posts as I come across them.
Revision of a post first published 4 May 2009
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