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Patelloida saccharina subsp. stella (Family Lottiidae)

Star Limpet


This is a wide ranging Indo-Pacific species. In Australia the Star Limpet has a tropical distribution and ranges from North West Cape in W.A., across the N.T., to Fraser Island in southern Qld (WA, NT, QLD, ISLANDS).


The Star Limpet's shell has a long oval shape, sometimes more narrow at the rear. Its shell length is 25-35 mm. The shell has a pronounced sculpture of 18 - 20 strong, high, uneven radial ribs that stick out to form a very uneven star-like pattern. When the strong ribs meet the shell margin, the edge is very strongly indented, called scalloped or crenulated. The shell apex is nearly central.

The shell colour is greyish, with dark grey to brown between the high ribs. There are occasional V-shaped lines near the shell margin. Acmaeidae limpets are also known as porcellain limpets. They have a porcellaneous shell interior that is never iridescent. The shell interior is white, with an olive-green, yellow or white horseshoe-shaped spatula that is finely dotted with brown. The inside shell margin is spotted or rimmed with black.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Star Limpet occurs on rocky ocean shores in the mid- to low-tidal regions, sometimes in exposed situations. It is a herbivore, that feeds on micro-algae that coats the rock surfaces.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

It is unknown if there is a human threat to this species, but its wide Indo-Pacific distribution probably guarantees that is safe.

Other Comments:

Patelloida saccharina, Linnaeus, 1758. Collisellina paropsis, Iredale, 1929, is a synonym. The Australian subspecies is P. saccharina stella (Lesson, 1830).

The name is derived from patelloida, the Latin dim. of patina, meaning a pan, or saucer-shaped, while saccharum is the Greek word for sugar; and stella is the Latin word for a star.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998), A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.82, New Holland Press.

Short, J. W. & Potter, D.G. (1987), Shells of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. p.8. Golden Press.

Wells, F. E. & Bryce, C. W. (1988), Seashells of Western Australia. , p.38, plate 5, 50. Western Australian Museum.

Wilson, B. (1993) Australian Marine Shells. V.1. p.34.


Text, map and photograph by Keith Davey.

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