Skip to content

Luminescent limpet (Latia)

Taxonomic group

Latiidae: Latia

Diagnostic features

The shell of Latia is paua-shaped, and larger, thicker and darker than other freshwater “limpets” found in New Zealand. This is the world’s only freshwater species capable of producing a bioluminescent slime. This glowing slime is only released when the limpet is disturbed and is therefore a startle or distraction defense mechanism.

Typical habitats

Latia are abundant in stony-bottom streams in most regions of the North Island, but not in the South Island.


Latia are grazers, scraping organic matter including diatom algae from stone surfaces.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: 3
  • Soft bottom: 6.1

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Latia are found in a range of water quality conditions, but they are most common in stony streams with good water quality. They have tolerance values of 3 (hard bottom sites) and 6.1 (soft bottom sites).