A shell full of tubes

March 1st 2016

A shell full of tubes

This intriguing limpet shell was found high up on the White Shore at the western edge of Culag Wood.

The tubes inside the shell were created by a colony of tube-dwelling polychaetes, or segmented worms. These tubes can have a variety of uses from protection for the soft bodies of the worms, to lairs for catching passing prey or to allow worms to live attached to rocks, shells and sea-weed.

The limpet itself would have been dead before the worms colonised the inside of the shell but it is quite common to find such tubes on the outside of living limpets.

There are no worms in the tubes shown as they are very sensitive to desiccation and this shell had been out of the water for quite a while.

Limpet and polychaete tubes. Photo D. Haines
Interior of limpet shell showing polychaete tubes. Photo D. Haines
Exterior of limpet shell with polychaete tubes. Photo D. Haines
Exterior of limpet shell with polychaete tubes. Photo D. Haines

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Grasshopper Warbler

single 'reeling' bird, Little Assynt Tree Nursery (Val Badger) (24/04)


single singing male at beginning of path to Kirkaig Falls, Inverkirkaig (Gwen Richards) (24/04)

Speckled Wood butterfly

two butterflies on Torbreck croft (Gwen Richards) (24/04)


single animal climbing up house drainpipe, Clachtoll (Susie Bower-Browng)  (24/04)


two birds seen and heard Drumbeg peat road (DAH) (23/04)


single bird singing Cnoc Glas, Drumbeg (DAH) (23/04)

Black-spotted longhorn beetle (Rhagium mordax)

single in Achmelvich garden (Richard Evans) (22/04)

Palmate Newt

two in Loch Leathad a'Phris Droighinn, Clachtoll (Ian Evans and Gwen Richards). One of these was a male in breeding condition. (22/04)