This short video clip shows two small limpets (Patella sp.), with shells colourfully adorned by a coating of microscopic green algae, and patches of pale purple encrusting calcareous seaweed (Lithamnion sp.). The underwater pair are jostling against each other in a tiny tidepool at Fall Bay, Gower, UK.
If you look closely, you can see short fine translucent tentacles which are the pallial gills protruding from the body all around the margin of the shells. These gills on the mantle skirt are usually hidden from view when limpets cling to exposed rocks at low tide. The manoeuvering of the limpets may be a preparatory behaviour for mating. Patella limpets have separate sexes but all hatch out as males and later may develop into female individuals. This is known as protandric hemaphroditism. Click here for more information about common limpets on the Marine Life Information Network.
The Carboniferous Limestone rock outcrops on the beach have been eroded by the sea and weathered into thousands of scooped-out hollows that retain sea-water when the tide goes out. These pools are home to many seashore creatures and seaweeds. Most are entirely lined, as in this example, with a coating are the lilac/purple/grey Lithamnion calcareous seaweed. Small niches are occupied by other miniscule limpets, an edible blue-shelled common mussel (Mytilus edulis Linnaeus), and a dark red beadlet anemone –Actinia equina (Linnaeus). A single minute navy-blue arthropod Anurida maritima (Guerin) from the Neanuridae Family scuttles across the water on the surface film.
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