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Notoacmea flammea (Family Acmaeidae)

Flamed Limpet


The Flamed Limpet has a southern temperate Australian distribution. It ranges from southern Qld, around southern shores, including NSW, Vic, Tas, and SA to Perth, WA. Specimens from the Sydney region seem to be smaller and more rounded than the southern examples and have been given the subspecies name, N. f. diminuta. (QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)


The Flamed Limpet's shell is small, oval to nearly round, thin and medium-conical to depressed in shape. It grows to a length of 10-12mm, a width of 14mm and a height of 6-8mm. The sculpture consists of very fine, radial lines and concentric striations that intersect to form characteristic, fine, well spaced, beaded riblets. The apex of the shell is at one third from the front. The back slope is slightly convex. The shell colour is variable, ranging from cream to black with brown markings that form a cross, zig-zag or flamed pattern. The shell interior colour is also variable, usually white to bluish, with a dark border. The spatula may be light brown to dark brown.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Flamed Limpet occurs at low tide levels in pools and protected areas, under stones or on the rock pool wall. This is a variable species, or species complex, with a variety of colour patterns and forms that have been given many scientific names. The high spired shells tend to be found out in the open, where they are exposed to strong surf, while the typical flattened form is usually found under stones. The eggs are spawned singly into the water. Anderson (1965) described the juveniles development over seven days from brown mature oocytes to the crawling animal.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The Flamed Limpet is a cryptic, hidden species which is apparently common throughout its range, but is not often seen because it hides itself away.

Other Comments:

Notoacmea flammea, Quoy & Gaimard, 1834. Other names and synonyms are Chiazacmea diminuta, Chiazacmea flammea, Acmaea scabrilirata, Notoacmea scabrilirata, Notoacmea conoidea, Notoacmea alta and Acmaea septiformis. Notoacmea comes from the Greek words noto, meaning back, and akme meaning a point. Flammea comes from the Latin word flamma meaning flame.

Further Reading:

Anderson, D.T. (1965). The reproduction and early life histories of the gastropods Notoacmea petterdi (Ten. Woods), Chiazacmea flammea (Quoy & Gaimard) and Patelloida alticostata (Angas)(Fam. Acmaeidae). Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., v.90(1), 106-114.

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.85, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p.236, Reed.

Jansen, P. (2000), Seashells of South-East Australia. p.10, Capricornia Publications. Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p.54, Melbourne University Press. (as Notoacmea scabrilirata).

Marine Research Group of Victoria (1984). Coastal Invertebtrates of Victoria: An atlas of selected species. p.32, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. Pt. II. p.547, South Australian Govt. Printing.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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