Unstable Limpet

Lottia instabilis





The Lottia instabilis is a gastropod that is easily identified by a unique shell shape.  Generally, the elongated shell is characterized by the anterior and posterior ends being curved upwards resulting within the animal being relatively unstable on flat surfaces.  Although the unique curvature of the shell may appear disadvantageous during intense disturbances such as wave action when the gastropods need to cling to substrates, the curved shell is extremely useful for clinging onto the stipes or holdfasts of kelp.  Shallow marks are left behind where unstable limpets were previously attached onto the kelp stipes or holdfasts.  These markings left behind result from the gastropod feeding on the kelp, especially on Luminaria setchellii and Pterygophora californica.   While the Lottia instabilis lives within the intertidal zone, the geographic distribution ranges from Kodiak Island, Alaska to southern California.  The unstable limpet can more specifically be found to depths of 73m (1).

(1) “Unstable limpet.” Biodiversity of the Central Coast, University of Victoria Environmental Studies, https://www.centralcoastbiodiversity.org/unstable-limpet-bull-lottia-ins....


  • Rocky Intertidal Zone