SeaShell News: Seahorse, Shelling, Sanibel

SeaShell News, 4-27-15, Seahorse, Shelling, Sanibel.
SeaShell News, 4-27-15, Seahorse, Shelling, Sanibel.

SeaShell News, 4-27-15, Seahorse, Shelling Sanibel.

Seahorse is the name given to 54 species of small marine fishes in the genus Hippocampus. “Hippocampus” comes from the Ancient Greek hippos meaning “horse” and kampos meaning “sea monster”.[2] Having a head and neck suggestive of ahorse, seahorses also feature segmented bony armour, an upright posture and a curled prehensile tail.

Seahorses are mainly found in shallow tropical and temperate waters throughout the world, and live in sheltered areas such as seagrass beds, estuaries, coral reefs, or mangroves. Four species are found in Pacific waters from North America toSouth America. In the Atlantic, H. erectus ranges from Nova Scotia to Uruguay. H. zosterae, known as the dwarf seahorse, is found in the Bahamas.

Colonies have been found in European waters such as the Thames Estuary.[3]

Three species live in the Mediterranean Sea: H. guttulatus (the long-snouted seahorse), H. hippocampus (the short-snouted seahorse), and H. fuscus (the sea pony). These species form territories; males stay within 1 m2 (11 sq ft) of habitat, while females range about one hundred times that.

Seahorses range in size from 1.5 to 35.5 cm (0.6 to 14.0 in).[4] They are named for their equine appearance. Although they are bony fish, they do not have scales, but rather thin skin stretched over a series of bony plates, which are arranged in rings throughout their bodies. Each species has a distinct number of rings. Seahorses swim upright, another characteristic not shared by their closepipefish relatives, which swim horizontally. Razorfish are the only other fish that swim vertically like a seahorse. Unusual among fish, a seahorse has a flexible, well-defined neck. It also sports a coronet on its head, which is distinct for each individual.

Seahorses swim very poorly, rapidly fluttering a dorsal fin and using pectoral fins (located behind their eyes) to steer. The slowest-moving fish in the world is H. zosterae (the dwarf seahorse), with a top speed of about 5 ft (1.5 m) per hour.[5] Seahorses have nocaudal fin. Since they are poor swimmers, they are most likely to be found resting with their prehensile tails wound around a stationary object. They have long snouts, which they use to suck up food, and their eyes can move independently of each other (like those of a chameleon).

 

Source:  Seahorse.

Seashell News: Sand Dollars, Shelling, Cayo Costa

SeaShell News, 4-23-15, Sand Dollars, Shelling, Cayo Costa.
SeaShell News, 4-23-15, Sand Dollars, Shelling, Cayo Costa.

SeaShell News, 4-23-15, Sand Dollars, Shelling Cayo Costa.

Cayo Costa State Park is a Florida State Park on Cayo Costa (formerly known as La Costa Island), which is directly south of Boca Grande (Gasparilla Island), 12 miles (19 km) west of Cape Coral and just north of North Captiva Island. The park is accessible only by charter boat (with or without captain), private boat, ferry or helicopter.

Cayo Costa Island is one of a chain of barrier islands that shelter Charlotte Harbor and Pine Island Sound. The park contains nine miles (14 km) of soft white sandy beaches and 2,506 acres (10 km2) of pine forests, oak-palmhammocks, and mangrove swamps.

There is a variety of wildlife that can be seen at the park.

Among the most looked-for animals found in Cayo Costa State Park are the sea turtles. There are four species found on the island, the loggerhead (Caretta caretta), hawksbill (Eremochelys imbriata), green (Chelonia mydas), and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii). Cayo Costa has many volunteers who check the entire nine mile beach each morning during sea turtle nesting season to find new nests and document them which is during the months of March through October in Southwest Florida. The loggerhead turtle is found far more than the others, and the green turtle is a distant second. The loggerhead turtle and green turtle’s eggs have the most diverse niches awhile hawksbill and Kemp’s ridley do not. Their niches rely on climate and weather which allow the eggs to survive on land and eventually hatch.[1]

Another species found on the island is the common raccoon (Procyon lotor). These animals pose a big problem during the sea turtle nesting season due to the fact that they are the most common species of predation on the eggs. Others types of predation on the eggs include: high tide, foxes, ants, ghost crabs, and looting humans.[2]

The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is also found coming up to the island beaches. This is considered an endangered animal, but the population is currently growing.[3] They can be seen from the beach or near the canals and docks of the island. The West Indian manatee is found in Florida and Puerto Rico. Although they are part of the same species, there is genetic diversity and allele frequency between the two populations.[3]

The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) can also be seen jumping, swimming, and playing along the all nine miles of beaches on the island.[4] Each dolphin has its own personal whistle just like any human would have a distinct voice. Dolphins are able to recognize these sounds and communicate through them. Scientists are able to measure these sounds and put them with the individual dolphin that made them.[4]

The snowy egret (Egretta thula) can be found on the island.[5] They usually stay near the beaches. They are a small white heron with long, slender black legs and yellow feet. Both sexes of the snowy egret have the same features even during the breeding season.[5]

The southern bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) can be found flying about the island or sitting up on the high trees.[6] This is another threatened species. The eagles eat a variety of animals, but prefer fish. They scavenge and steal food when they are able to, and the eagle hunts for live prey only as a last resort.[6]

The mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) is found on the island. This plant is most commonly seen as a house plant, but this invasive species came from one of the houses on the island and has spread all over. Staff is currently trying to rid the island of this invasive plant.

The resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) is found growing on trees throughout Cayo Costa. It is an epiphyte that if it is dehydrated, will turn brown and curl up its leaves looking dead. When the plant receives water or rain, the plant will “come back to life” and reappear green and alive.[7]

Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) is found at Cayo Costa. The fruit comes about in the summer time during the wet season of southwest Florida. It starts out at a bright green grape then ripens to a purplish color. The fruit mainly consists of a large seed with little flesh. It is well known of Florida natives to make jellies or wines from the grapes. This plant is native to South Florida and the Caribbean.[8] This plant can grow up to fifty feet tall, and is usually close to the ocean because they are one of the few salt tolerant plants.[8]

Source:  Cayo Costa.

SeaShell News: Bay Scallop, Shelling, North Captiva

SeaShell News, 4-22-15, Bay Scallops by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Via Creative Commons.
SeaShell News, 4-22-15, Bay Scallops by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Via Creative Commons.

SeaShell News, 4-22-15, Bay Scallop, Shelling, North Captiva.

Argopecten irradians, formerly classified as Aequipecten irradians, common names Atlantic bay scallop or bay scallop, is an edible species of saltwater clam, a scallop, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Pectinidae, the scallops.

This species of scallop used to support a large fishery on the East Coast of the United States, but since the 1950s, the fishery of the wild scallops has decreased greatly. This decrease is apparently the result of several negative influences, one of which is a reduction in sea grasses (to which bay scallop spat attach) due to increased coastal development and concomitant nutrient runoff. Another possible factor is reduction of sharks from overfishing. A variety of sharks used to feed on rays, which are a main predator of bay scallops. With the shark population reduced, in some places almost eliminated, the rays have been free to feed on scallops to the point of greatly decreasing their numbers.

By contrast, the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) is at historically high levels of abundance, after recovery from overfishing.

Bay scallops are now raised in aquaculture in Florida.[1] They were introduced into China for the 1980s and are the basis of a vibrant aquaculture industry in that country.[2]

Source:  Bay Scallop.

 

SeaShell News: Tiger Lucine, Shelling, Sanibel

SeaShell News, Tiger Lucine, 4-19-15, Codakia orbicularis (tiger lucine clam) (San Salvador Island, Bahamas) 1 by James St. John, Via Creative Commons.
SeaShell News, Tiger Lucine, 4-19-15, Codakia orbicularis (tiger lucine clam) (San Salvador Island, Bahamas) 1 by James St. John, Via Creative Commons.

SeaShell News, 4-19-15, Tiger Lucine, Shelling, Sanibel Island.

Lucinidae is a family of saltwater clams, marine bivalve molluscs.

These bivalves are remarkable for their endosymbiosis with sulphide-oxidizing bacteria.[1]

The members of this family are found in muddy sand or gravel at or below low tide mark. They have characteristically rounded shells with forward-facing projections. The valves are flattened and etched with concentric rings. Each valve bears two cardinal and two plate-like lateral teeth. These molluscs do not have siphons but the extremely long foot makes a channel which is then lined with slime and serves for the intake and expulsion of water.[2]

Source:  Tiger Lucine.

 

SeaShell News: Atlantic Thorny Oyster, Shelling, Sanibel

SeaShell News, 4-13-15, Atlantic Thorny Oyster - hinge by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Via Creative Commons.
SeaShell News, 4-13-15, Atlantic Thorny Oyster – hinge by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Via Creative Commons.

SeaShell News, 4-13-15, Atlantic Thorny Oyster, Shelling, Sanibel Island.

The Atlantic thorny oyster can grow to 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in diameter. The valves of the shell are roughly circular and the upper one is decorated with many spiny protuberances up to 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long.

When growing in a crevice, the shape of the shell adapts itself to the available space.[3] The colour varies but is usually white or cream with orange or purplish areas making it well camouflaged. The lower valve is flat and is attached to the substrate. When the living animal is lying on the seabed it is usually not visible because of the algae, marine animals and sediment that cover the shell. The flat tree oyster and Lister’s tree oyster are often among these epibionts.[4] A diver swimming past may just observe a slight movement on the seabed as the oyster snaps its valves shut. Young animals are much less spiny than adults and resemble members of the genus Chama, the jewelbox clams.[5][6]

The Atlantic thorny oyster occurs in the western Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico where it is found at depths between 9 and 45 metres (30 and 148 ft). Its range extends from North Carolina and Texas southwards to Venezuela and Brazil. It occurs on deep water reefs especially in areas with high sedimentation. It is often lodged in a crevice or concealed under an overhang. It is also a member of the fouling community, being found on sea walls, man made structures and wrecks.[5][6]

Source:  Atlantic Thorny Oyster.

Seashell News: Top Shell, Shelling, Cayo Costa

SeaShell News, 4-5-15, Top Shell, Cittarium pica (magpie snail) (San Salvador Island, Bahamas) 4 by James St. John.
SeaShell News, 4-5-15, Top Shell, Cittarium pica (magpie snail) (San Salvador Island, Bahamas) 4 by James St. John.

SeaShell News, 4-5-15, Top Shell, Shelling, Cayo Costa Island.

“Cittarium pica, common name the West Indian top shell or magpie shell, is a species of large edible sea snail, a marinegastropod mollusk in the family Tegulidae. This species has a large black and white shell.

SeaShell News, 4-5-15, Hermit Crab on Half Moon Caye in Belize Coenobita clypeatus in a shell of Cittarium pica by Jerry Kirkhart.
SeaShell News, 4-5-15, Hermit Crab on Half Moon Caye in Belize Coenobita clypeatus in a shell of Cittarium pica
by Jerry Kirkhart.

This snail is known as “wilks” (or sometimes as “whelks”) in the English-speaking Caribbean islands of the West Indies, where this is a popular food item. The word “wilks” is used as a singular form as well as a plural. This species is however not at all closely related to the species that are known as whelks in the U.S. and in Europe. In some Spanish-speaking parts of the Caribbean, when used as a food source Cittarium pica is known as bulgao, or simply as caracoles (snails, in Spanish). In Venezuela it is called quigua;[3] in Cuba it is called cigua.

Cittarium pica is considered the third most economically important invertebrate species in the Caribbean, after the spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) and the queen conch (Eustrombus gigas). It has gone locally extinct in some habitats due tooverfishing and overexploitation.[4][5][6]

The shell of this species can be up to 137 mm in maximum dimension.[7][9] It is very thick and heavy, having an outline that is between trochiform and turbiniform in shape, with rounded shoulders[5] and a somewhat low conical form.[7]

The spire is conoidal. It contains about six convex whorls. The large body whorl is depressed-globose. The outer lip is simple. The lip is edged inside by black, or black and white. The columella is arcuate, produced above in a heavy porcellanous callous deposit, half-surrounding the umbilicus and deeply notched in the middle.

The shell of Cittarium pica presents a rather wide umbilicus, which is deep[5] and devoid of sculpture,[7] but spirally bicostate inside. The semicircular, oblique aperture is distinguishably nacreous inside[5][7] as is the case in other Trochoidea, and is circular. The parietal callus is glossy and delicate, and has a node that projects towards the umbilicus.[7] Juvenile individuals possess shells ornamented by spiral lines and strong cords, in contrast to the nearly smooth, homogeneous surface ofmature specimens.[7]

The lusterless color pattern is rather distinct, overall white with black zigzag flammules on each whorl. Those spots have a tendency to become axial lines in older, larger individuals.[7] The upper surface is often entirely black. The aperture is commonly white, with an inner iridescence because of the nacre.

Young shells, or well-preserved adults, have the spire whorls sculptured by oblique folds, cut by a few spiral sulci. The periphery and the base in the half-grown shells are spirally lirate.[10]

On some old, empty shells of large individuals, the black colored parts become slightly higher in relief, compared to the white areas surrounding it. This unusual morphology may be due to the action of blue-green algae, such as Plectonema terebrans, which continuously erode the surface of the white parts of the shell.[7]

This species occurs rarely in the Florida Keys, and in the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia andVenezuela. It also occurs in the Bahamas, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and theLesser Antilles as far south as Trinidad and Tobago. The species has been reintroduced to Bermuda.[2]

Featured image by James St. John.

Source:  Top Shell.

Seashell News: Atlantic Slipper Shell, Shelling, Sanibel

SeaShell News, 4-1-15, Atlantic Slipper Shell, Crepidula fornicata - Common Atlantic Slippersnail by Crabby Taxonomist, Via Creative Commons.
SeaShell News, 4-1-15, Atlantic Slipper Shell, Crepidula fornicata – Common Atlantic Slippersnail by Crabby Taxonomist, Via Creative Commons.

SeaShell News, 4-1-15, Atlantic Slipper Shell, Shelling, Sanibel Island.

The common slipper shell, Crepidula fornicata, has many other common names, including common Atlantic slippersnail, boat shell, quarterdeck shell, fornicating slipper snail, Atlantic Slipper Limpet and it is known in Britain as the “common slipper limpet“. This is a species of medium-sized sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the familyCalyptraeidae, the slipper snails and cup and saucer snails.

The size of the shell is 20–50 mm.[1] The maximum recorded shell length is 56 mm.[2]

This sea snail has an arched, rounded shell. On the inside of the shell there is a white “deck”, which causes the shell to resemble a boat or a slipper, hence the common names. There is variability in the shape of the shell: some shells are more arched than others.

Groups of individuals are often found heaped up and fastened together, with the larger, older females below and the smaller, younger males on top. As a heap grows, the males turn into females (making them sequential hermaphrodites).[3]

The species is native to the western Atlantic Ocean, specifically the Eastern coast of North America. It has been introduced accidentally to other parts of the world and has become problematic.

Distribution of Crepidula fornicata ranges from 48°N to 25°N; 97.2°W to 25°W[1] from as far north as Nova Scotia to as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.[1]

It was introduced to the state of Washington.[1] The species was, however, brought to Europe together with the eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica.[1] In Belgium, the first slipper limpet was found on September 28, 1911, attached to an oyster inOstend, and since the 1930s it is seen as a common species along Belgian coast.[1]

The species is considered an invasive species in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and has also spread to Norway and Sweden.[4] It is known to damage oyster fisheries.[5] The slipper limpet has few to no predators in Europe, and can thrive on several types of hard bottoms and shellfish banks.[1] A continued expansion to the north is probably inhibited by temperature: low temperatures during the winter can slow down or inhibit the development of the slipper limpet.[1]

It has also been introduced to the Pacific Northwest and Japan.[6]

Source:  Atlantic Slipper Shell.

SeaShell News: Tulip Mussel, Shelling, Boca Grande

SeaShell News, 3-21-15, Tulip Mussel Via Wikimedia.
SeaShell News, 3-21-15, Tulip Mussel Via Wikimedia Commons.

SeaShell News, 3-21-15, Tulip Mussel, Shelling, Boca Grande.

Modiolus americanus, or the tulip mussel, is a species of bivalve mollusc in the family Mytilidae. It can be found along the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from North Carolina to the West Indies.[1]

Source:  Tulip Mussel.

Featured Image:  “Modiolus americanus (American horse mussel) (San Salvador Island, Bahamas) 1 (15568036864)” by James St. John – Modiolus americanus (American horse mussel) (San Salvador Island, Bahamas) 1. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

SeaShell News: Atlantic Hairy Triton, Shelling, Captiva

SeaShell News, 3-20-15, Atlantic Hairy Triton By Bree Anne (Bryan) Buckley Via Creative Commons.
SeaShell News, 3-20-15, Atlantic Hairy Triton By Bree Anne (Bryan) Buckley Via Creative Commons.

SeaShell News, 3-20-15, Atlantic Hairy Triton, Shelling, Captiva.

“Atlantic hairy triton
Cymatium aquatile
Linnaeus, 1758

Description:
The shell has a blunt conical spire, with weak knobs. The opening extends far down, thus making the last winding appear to be larger. Over the outer shell is a soft skin-like layer with hair-like protrusions, called the periostracum. The living animal is white with dark, round spots. Color of the shell is usually brown.
Size: the shell can reach up to 10 cm.

Habitat:
The animal lives on coral reefs.
Depth: ranges from 6 m down to 25 m.

Distribution:
Occasional all over the Caribbean.

Remarks:
In most countries it is illegal to bring back these shells from holidays.”

Source:  Atlantic Hairy Triton.

SeaShell News: Turkey Wing, Shelling, North Captiva

SeaShell News, 3-19-15, Turkey Wing and Assorted Shell Pieces by Marie Coleman Via Creative Commons.
SeaShell News, 3-19-15, Turkey Wing and Assorted Shell Pieces by Marie Coleman Via Creative Commons.

SeaShell News, 3-19-15, Turkey Wing, Shelling, North Captiva.

“Arca zebra, or the turkey wing ark clam, is a bivalve mollusc in the family Arcidae, the ark clams.

The shell of Arca zebra is boldly striped in brown and white which gives it a resemblance to the wing of a wild turkey. The whole shell (when both valves are together) has also been likened to Noah’s Ark. It is a sturdy shell growing up to 4 in (10 cm) long and 2 in wide. The umbones are separated by a shallow depression, and the hinge is long and straight with about 50 small teeth. There is coarse sculpturing fanning out from the umbones. The inside of the shell is whitish or pale mauve.[3]

Source:  Turkey Wing.

Sanibel & Captiva Islands