Living Common Edible Winkle close-up: Common Winkle, Littorina littorea (Linnaeus), with striped antennae, grazing on a kelp holdfast at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (1)

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.

Kelp holdfast and marine snails: Holdfast and lower stem of Furbelows kelp, Saccorhiza polyschides (Lightfoot) Batters, providing shelter and food for numerous gastropod molluscs at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (2)

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 bulbous holdfast has been broken open on the rocks. The series of cavities formed this way, plus the niches supplied by the frilly outgrowths from the stem, are providing shelter to a variety of gastropods such as common winkles and top shells.

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.

Winkles and Top Shells in a Furbelows holdfast: The holdfast of Furbelows kelp, Saccorhiza polyschides (Lightfoot) Batters, with occupying gastropod molluscs such as the Common Winkle - Littorina littorea (Linnaeus), at Ringstead Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (3)

Revision of a post first published 4 May 2009


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