Owl Limpet

Lottia gigantea






The owl limpet is a type of snail species that attained its name because of a silver-blue marking within the shell that is similar to a Horned Owl (1).  The limpet shell can get up to 100mm or greater (2).  While these particular limpets are hermaphrodites, the species more specifically transitions from male to female due to an increase of size.  While this particular species inhabits the rocky intertidal zone, the geographical distribution encompasses Washington to Baja California, Mexico.  The Lottia gigantea are herbivorous grazers that forage during high tide for green algae.  To defend clearings of thick algal films, the limpets can be territorial by grazing or pushing other competitors off for space (2).


(1) Pace, McKenna. Spices Spotlight: "Owl Limpet (Lottia gigantic).” National Park Service, National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior, 13 Nov. 2017, https://www.nps.gov/cabr/blogs/species-spotlight-owl-limpet-lottia-gigantea.htm

(2) “Lottia gigantea | MARINe.” UC SANTA CRUZ Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Regents of the University of California, 30 Oct. 2018, https://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/target/target-species-lottia.html.

(Photographs) Peter J. Bryant, University of California, Irvine


  • Rocky Intertidal Zone