Sunday 19 May
Common limpet (Patella vulgata)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Common limpet fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Common limpet description
The common limpet is a well-known seashore species (2). It has a conical shell, the outer surface of which is greyish-white. Shells situated higher up on the shore tend to have taller shells than those on the lower shore (3). The underside of the muscular 'foot' on which the limpet moves around is yellow, orange or brown and often has a green or greyish tint (3).
- Shell length: up to 60 mm (2)
Common limpet biology
Although they may seem to be fixed to the rock, common limpets actually move around to graze on algae during moist conditions or when they are submerged by the tide. They return to the same spot by following the mucus trail that they deposit. This spot becomes worn by the edges of the shell, and eventually an obvious 'scar' in the rock is created. This helps the limpet to attach even more tenaciously to the rock, a strategy that protects it from desiccation (2).
Common limpets begin their life as males, becoming sexually mature at around 9 months of age. Most individuals undergo a sex change, typically becoming female at 2 or 3 years of age, although some remain as males (3). Spawning takes place once a year, usually from October to December, although the timing varies around the British Isles (2). Fertilisation occurs externally; the larvae spend their first few days of life in the water column, after which time they settle on the shore (2). Life-span varies, but is between 10 and 20 years (3).
In many areas, limpets have been collected as a food source for many centuries (3).Top
Common limpet range
Found on all coasts of Britain and Ireland. Its distribution extends from the Arctic Circle in the north to Portugal in the south (3).Top
Common limpet habitatTop
Common limpet status
Common and widespread.Top
Common limpet threats
Not currently threatened.Top
Common limpet conservation
Conservation action has not been targeted at this species.Top
Find out more
For more on this species see the Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN) species account, available from:
AuthenticationThis information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgTop
- Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- A marine zone between the littoral zone (the shallow zone where light reaches the bed, subject to submersion and exposure by tides) and depths of around 200m.
- National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
- Fish, J. D. & Fish, S. (1996) A student's guide to the seashore. Second Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Hill, J.M., 2000. Patella vulgata. Common limpet. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 06/08/02]. http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/Patellavulgata.htm
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.