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The Seashore

The small or black periwinkle (Melaraphe neritoides)

The small or black periwinkle (Melaraphe neritoides)

The picture shows one Small Periwinkle and two Rough Periwinkles in a dead barnacle.

This tiny periwinkle is up to 6 mm in length. It is unlikely to be confused with the Rough Periwinkle, as however small the Rough Periwnkles get they have visible grooves, Small Periwinkles do not. See picture above. It is found in small cracks and crevices in the splash zone and upper shore. Height up the shore varies with exposure to wave action so, the more extreme the conditions the higher up it is found. When wetted by the spray it will feed on lichens, microscopic organisms and detritus. Like the rough periwinkle the sexes are separate but it does have internal fertilisation. An egg is release on a spring tide and the larva is planktonic. After several weeks the larva settles out on to the shore into crevices, especially old, dead barnacle "shells". They live for 5 years or more.

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