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Patella peronii (Family Patellidae)

Scaly Limpet, Scorched Limpet

Distribution:

The Scaly Limpet ranges from New South Wales, around southern Australian shores, including Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern Western Australia. (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)

Features:

Herbivore.

The Scorched Limpets' shell is large, oval, solid, tall and cone shaped. It may grow to a height of 15-20 mm, a length of 35-40 mm and a width of 28 mm. The shell sculpture is variable, with between 16 - 24 prominent ribs, covered with scales or beads, and smaller ribs or threads in the interspaces between. The shell margin is scalloped (notched). The tall ribs correspond to channels underneath the shell and this is characteristic of this species. The shell apex is at the anterior (front) third. This is a member of the Patellid, or True Limpets.

Outside the shell is dull white in colour. The interspaces between the tall white coloured ribs are marked brown or black. The interior of the shell is lacquer-white or pocellanous, sometimes with a bluish tinge, with an orange-yellow tinge at the apex (spatula). The spatula margin is often rimmed with black.

The animal is an even-coloured pale yellow at the base, white above the foot. The gills and tentacles are almost transparent, while the head is a bluish leaden colour. Has a strong muscular foot. The buccal mass is red and fleshy. They have a fine network of gills surrounding the foot instead of having a single feathery gill (Edgar, p.232).

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Scorched Limpet is common at low tide levels and below on exposed rock platforms. It prefers the lower levels of the intertidal zone. It is often found between kelp, Durvillea potatorium, holdfasts or in the Cunjevoi, Pyura sp. zone. It seems to prefer vertical rock faces. The more the exposed situation, the taller and heavier-ribbed are the shells. The shell is often encrusted with Lithothamnion, algae and bryozoa. In NSW there is a late summer spawning. Some fish, such as wrasses, are important predators.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This variable shell has been given many names. If a large series of shells are graded from a single locality, it will be seen that many forms are present, and that intermediates make it impossible to categorise groups into different species. At one end of the range the form is known as Patella squamifera, Reeve. It has 24 large white ribs interspaced with smaller yellow ribs. At the other end of the range is Patella hepatica, Verco. It has black uniform radials. The shell Blainville described as Patella peroni, is between these two extremes. Since it was the first collected by Blainville in 1825, this name is retained for the species and its forms.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W.J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores. p. 269, Angus and Robertson.

Davey, K. (1998). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 77, New Holland Press.

Edgar, G.J. (1997). Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. p. 232, Reed.

Macpherson, J.H. and Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p. 44, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 29, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. and Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. pt. II. p. 550, South Aust. Govt. Press.

Wells, F.E., and Bryce, C.W. (1988), Seashells of Western Australia. p. 38, Western Australian Museum.

Wilson, B.R. and Gillett, K. (1971). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p. 34, A.H. and A.W. Reed.

Acknowledgments:

Text, map and photograph by Keith Davey.

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