Limpets, Vancouver Island, BC
Limpets, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Limpets eat algae that they scrape off rocks with their rough tongues. Each will scrape a pit or groove in the rock to make a bed. After grazing, they go back to their beds by following the trails made by scraping the algae. When on the move, a limpet can cover about 5 to 7 cm an hour.

These guys get hit with waves all day long. To stop them from being swept off their rocks, they are shaped like domes that protect them against the waves, and they suck up to the rock.

They help other animals to live in tide pools. Limpets eat so many plants that they make bare spots on the rocks where other tide pool animals can find a spot to grow, others like barnacles and stationary plants.

When you are at the beach, look on the sides of rocks to find them clinging on to avoid being swept away by waves. They may be tan, greenish-brown, or gray. They look a lot like Chinese Hats.

They reproduce by broadcast spawning, it’s a way where several females release eggs and several males release sperm into the water at the same time.  This method increases the likelihood that eggs will become successfully fertilized and that fertilized eggs will not be eaten by nearshore egg predators.  This species is also known to undergo male to female sex change.  All small limpets are male, and upon reaching a certain size, they change to become female.  Sex change is a common phenomenon among limpets and other groups of marine animals.

Limpets are eaten by people throughout the world.  They are also eaten by large crabs and sea stars when underwater and birds when the tide is out, and they are exposed.

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One thought on “Limpets”

  1. Thanks for sharing this fabulous info about limpets. I just shared it with my eleven year old son who loves to visit Maude Bay on Mayne Island. We always see many limpets there.

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