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

Blackcap

single male bird in Torbreck garden (Gwen Richards) (30/09)

Yellow-browed Warbler

single bird in Torbreck garden (Gwen Richards) (30/09)

Slow-worm

single reptile spotted on Baddidarach to Achmelvich path (Ballal Mirza) (29/09)

Brent Goose

single light-bellied bird on rock in Clashnessie Bay (DAH). This bird had two coloured leg rings and we are trying to establish its history. Update 30-9-20 - we have heard back from the Irish Brent Goose Ringing Group and this bird was ringed as a juvenile in South Dublin in December 2019. (29/09)

Little Grebe

three birds, Lochan Sgeireach, Stoer (DAH) (29/09)

Sparrowhawk

single bird, probably juvenile, in 'dogfight' with Hooded Crow for over 10 minutes (Gwen Richards and Ian M. Evans) (29/09)

Viper's-bugloss (Echium vulgare)

single plant in fenced ground, Culkein Stoer (Ian M. Evans and Gwen Richards). First record of this plant in Assynt since 2006 (29/09)

Bar-tailed Godwit

single bird Bay of Culkein (Gwen Richards and Ian Evans) (29/09)

Map