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The Common Periwinkle – Littorina littorea

A Periwinkle coming out of its shell to investigate its surroundings.

The Common Periwinkle – Littorina littorea – is a relative of limpets, whelks and other marine snails. It has an exoskeleton comprised of a single spiral shell that grows with the snail’s body, providing protection. The body is composed of a foot, a tail and two antennae. The foot is cream in colour and divided into two halves; these are moved alternately allowing the snail to crawl. The foot is also used to hold the sea snail securely onto rocks when hit by waves. The antennae are actually two stalked tentacles which function as sensory organs to see and taste. The Periwinkle is also a herbivore that feeds using a radula. This is a toothed, chitinous ribbon that is used to scrape algae off rocks. This species has no restricted breeding time, meaning it can reproduce at any time throughout the year. During favourable weather conditions the breeding period can be shorter. When spawning, the snail sheds egg capsules (approximately 1mm across containing 2-3 eggs) into the sea during spring tides.

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