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Notoacmea alta (Family Acmaeidae)

Tall Limpet


The Tall Limpet ranges from southern New South Wales, across Victoria, down the eastern coast of Tasmania and east to Spencer Gulf, South Australia (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA).


The shell of the Tall Limpet is very small and fragile, with a high cone-shaped apex at one third from the front. The tall conical shape of this limpet is very characteristic of this species. The anterior slope of the shell is straight to slightly convex. The surface of the shell is smooth, marked with very fine radial and concentric striations. It has an oval shaped aperture.

The outer surface of this shell is very dark brown or black, with occasional dull white to light green bands radiating from the apex. Some examples do not have banding. The shell interior is chocolate brown to black with or without radiating lighter bands and a dark band around the margin. It may erode to a uniform grey brown colour.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Tall Limpet occurs at mid to low tide levels on rocky, sand and muddy shores, often attached to other shells. It prefers protected areas. The characteristic conical form of this shell easily identifies this species. It is known to attach to the Common Edible Mussel, Austromytilus (Brachyodontes) rostratus, the Beaked Mussel, Brachidontes rostratus, and the false limpet, Clypidina rugosa, as in the photo.

If the shell is eroded it is very difficult to distinguish this species from Collisella mixta, Notoacmea flammea, Notoacmea corrodenda, Notoacmea conoidea, Patelloida mufra and Patelloida insignis which are all tall limpets (Ponder & Creese, p. 170-1).

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species has a restricted range in south-eastern Australia.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1988). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.84, New Holland Press.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.54, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p.31, Museum of Victoria.

Ponder, W.F. & Creese, R.G. (1980) A revision of the Australian species of Notoacmea, Collisella and Patelloida. J. Malac. Soc. Aust. 4(4), 167-208.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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