Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shocking-blue Shell


We took some of our second-year students for a field trip to the coast at Souter Point near South Shields today and with 100 pairs of eyes scouring the rock pools they were bound to find some interesting marine life. Above is a blue-rayed limpet Helcion pellucidum, with shocking electric-blue stripes, that we found feeding on a kelp fronds. That iridescent colour is caused by microscopic, layered plates of aragonite in the shell that reflect back incident light waves so that they interfere with one another and produce the vibrant blue hue.


This delightful little mollusc, less than a centimetre long, is an Arctic cowrie, Trivia arctica - minute compared with its tropical cousins but equally exquisite in its shape and pattern.

9 comments:

  1. I bet the students really enjoyed their trip too. The blue-rayed limpet is unusual. Amazing colour.

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  2. The colour on the limpet is fantastic! And the cowrie shells always remind me of pasta. :O) They're both beautiful.

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  3. Hi Keith, it was a very pleasant morning's rockpooling - one of my favourite pastimes.

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  4. Hi Lesley, wonderful vibrant blue, isn't it. A kingfisher would be jealous...

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  5. I am amazed at the beauty one can capture on a field trip. This is very interesting.

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  6. Thanks Autumn Belle ............. when the sea begins to warm up there'll be even more interesting animals in the rock pools.

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  7. Glad i had the opportunity to catch up. your blog always has excitement in the seemingly mundane.

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  8. i keep forgetting you still have other blogsites like this one, which i found more awesome because of the varied nature of posts, photos and information. thanks.

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  9. Thanks for your kind comment Andrea

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