Little Blue Periwinkles
Ecology,  Featured,  Health + Planet

Little Blue Periwinkles: Annals of Wonder

Little Blue Periwinkles
Little Blue Periwinkles waiting for high tide.

Editor’s Note: Welcome to my new column, Annals of Wonder. I find the natural world to be an endless source of fascination and joy, and I know there are others out there who feel the same. This column, Annals of Wonder, will explore and celebrate life on Earth. 

This isn’t a tiny sandstone tidal pool filled with stones. It’s the waiting room for these snails—all alive—to hunker. We humans have given them the name of Little Blue Periwinkles.

Little Blues must patiently wait for the next tide to come in and render the world watery and wet, so they can crawl around and make extraordinary patterns in the algae (munch munch) on the floor of larger tidepools. You can find them many places, but these live along the Illawarra Coast south of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia (also known as the Coal Coast for the massive extraction of fossil fuels historically made there. I prefer the Indigenous name, it’s so lovely.)

Little Blue Periwinkle Trails
Little Blue Periwinkle Trails left behind at low tide.

Together, these tidepools are connected by ancient rock formations that jut out into the waves, exposed during low tides to the exploring human (me!).

The habitat of Little Blue Periwinkles, along the “Coal Coast” of New South Wales, about an hour south of Sydney, Australia.

These Little Blue Periwinkles also serve as an important food source for the threatened Sooty Oystercatcher, a black seabird with bright purple legs and brilliant orange beak (the color combo is WILD and to my color-adoring eye, exactly perfect, like Pantone perfect).

Imagine creating beautiful artworks as part of your basic existence, cuddling inside your shell when need be, and in death, helping to create both life and perfect color in another being?

I have to admit I’m jealous of these wee black snails called Little Blue Periwinkles.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.