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The Lifestyle of the Limpet

The limpet is remarkable in two ways. Firstly, it ensures that its shell exactly fits a chosen spot on a rock - either by grinding the rock or grinding the shell. Secondly, when submerged by the tide it can leave its home spot and wander about grazing on young seaweed - returning to its home before the tide goes out. How does the limpet move around? How does it navigate back to its home? How does it then turn around so that it is correctly oriented to the home spot on its rock? I am amazed at its skill and determination. The following description of the lifestyle of the limpet is extracted from the website of the Young Peoples Trust for the Environment, based in Crewkerne, Somerset:

The limpets are perhaps the most well-adapted of all the marine snails for a life on the exposed rock surfaces. Each limpet has its own ‘home’ – an exact spot on the rock where it stays when the tide is out.
 limpet seashore

On soft rock, the limpet grinds it with its shell to make an exact fit; on hard rock, the shell is ground down to fit the rock’s shape. This tight fit allows the limpet to trap a spoonful of water inside to stop it drying up. A strong foot muscle gets a firm grip on the rock, making it difficult for birds to prise off the limpet!

When the tide covers their rock, or in wet, cool weather, the limpets leave their base and wander about, grazing on young seaweeds which have started growing on the rock surface. Before the tide goes out, each limpet returns to its own ‘home’.

21st February 2010.



This website is published by Alex Reid, 27 Millington Road, Cambridge CB3 9HW. Telephone: +44 1223 319733. Email: aalreid(at) It is an electronic scrap book, containing family life stories, casual articles, and family memorabilia.


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