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Cellana conciliata (Family Patellidae)

Rainbow Limpet



An endemic species, the Rainbow Limpet ranges from the tip of Cape York in north-eastern Queensland south to Hervey Bay, mid-eastern Queensland (QLD).


The Rainbow Limpet is an oval-shaped limpet with a low apex near the shell centre. Its shell length may be up to 35 mm. The delicate shell sculpture consists of numerous, very small, evenly sized radiating small ribs, called riblets. The shell margin is weakly scalloped, or crenulated. The shell may be eroded.

The shell exterior is dull grey to white in colour, with indistinct brown to black markings around the shell edge, while the rib interspaces are marked with light brown. The shell interior is nacreous to iridescent, being silvery blue to cream or white in colour. Light-coloured radial lines occur around the interior shell margin.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Rainbow Limpet occurs in the mid- to low-tide regions on Queensland's rocky ocean shores that are protected by the Great Barrier Reef. It is a generalised algae feeder. Wilson states that Rainbow Limpets are gregarious spawners. Their veliger larvae are short-lived and they only remain in the plankton for a few days before they settle onto rock surfaces in the intertidal region.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

Rainbow Limpets appear to be common on the rocky shores within their distribution range. When Europeans introduced intensive sugarcane and banana cropping soil erosion and sediment run-off has increased dramatically in tropical Queensland rivers. The increased sediment load being deposited upon Queensland shores behind the Great Barrier Reef needs to be monitored for the effects it is having on intertidal shore species.

Other Comments:

Scientific Name: Cellana conciliata, Iredale, 1940. Cellana comes from the Latin word cella, meaning to cover, or cellare, an underground room. Concilliata comes from the Latin prefix con- meaning with and ciliata comes from the Latin word cilium, meaning eyelash, or being fringed with hairs.

Further Reading:

Bennett, I. (1987). W. J. Dakin's classic study: Australian Seashores: a guide to the temperate shores for the beach-lover, the naturalist, the shore-fisherman and the student. Angus & Robertson.

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

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

Jansen, P. (2000), Seashells of South-East Australia. Capricornia Publications.

Jones, D. & Morgan, G. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian waters. Reed.

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

Marine Research Group of Victoria (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: An atlas of selected species. Museum of Victoria.

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

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

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

Wilson, B. (1993) Australian Marine Shells. Prosobranch gastropods. Odyssey Publishing.

Wilson, B. R. & Gillett, K. (1979). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. Reed.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 77222 bytes Rainbow Limpet
Distribution Map  
image/gif 917 bytes Distribution of Rainbow Limpet

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