Sunday, 20 September 2009

Autumn Spring

Around the autumn equinox, low spring tides expose kelp beds normally hidden to landlubbers like me and slippery visits to this weird world are always worthwhile. Of all the things to be found here, the diminutive blue-rayed limpet has to be amongst the most beautiful.

If you can catch them in sunshine, as I did yesterday at the north end of Embleton Bay in Northumberland, the irridescence of the streaks is impressive and the colour switches from green to blue according to how the light falls (the camera doesn't really capture it fully). These little molluscs are short lived apparently - no more than a year or so - and they move about after they first settle, from the fronds of the larger kelps such as Laminaria digitata down into the holdfasts, where they lurk and graze significant holes which weaken the structure. A fact that I hadn't fully appreciated is that it is only in their earliest stage that they have these beautiful irridescent lines. Those in the photograph were only about 5mm in length.

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