from the specimen drawer

from the specimen drawer

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Love Limpets!

Et voici la coquille de la semaine- la patelle.

photo copyright 2009 

Pourquoi en français? Because (ou, parce que!) this is a French limpet. Much more exciting than an American limpet because I got to go to France and I found it on a French beach (la plage de Trestrignel in Perros Guirec) and French limpets are bigger than any limpet I ever found here, in America, the country with inferior limpets. I was worried all the way to the airport, chanting silently, “Sil vous plait, customs people, don’t take my huge limpets. Mon Dieu! I will die if you take my limpets!” Needless to say, they did not. I came home with about twenty common European limpets (Patella vulgata). Here are some of the patellids in the wild.


photo copyright 2007
 
Here is a photo to give you a better idea of how big they are… The biggest is almost 2 and 1/2 inches (over 6 cm).
photo copyright 2009

The shells are also very deep. Here are the lovely limpets nested together.
photo copyright 2009 


What’s so cool about limpets is that they dig out a little limpet-shaped spot on their rock (with the help of limpet-made acid). When they go off to feed they leave a mucous trail of their personal scent so they can find their way home to their customized divot. Limpets have a very strong foot (they have to in order to hang on to their rock under crashing, pulling waves- especially in France where the waves are much more dramatic and impassioned). It would take a lot of pulling to dislodge a limpet. But if you follow my empty shell policy you wouldn’t be a limpet yanker anyway. If, however, you do not subscribe to this policy, or perhaps you need some limpets for your bouillabaisse, Peterson suggests sneaking up on the limpet and quickly slicing under its foot with a very sharp knife.

Here is a sign on the beach saying “Don’t molest the limpets!” (and something about never letting your dog on the beach even if it’s on a leash).
photo copyright 2007

Love ya’ll, les patelles! Vraiment!

No comments:

Post a Comment