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.
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.
The animal lives on coral reefs.
Depth: ranges from 6 m down to 25 m.
Occasional all over the Caribbean.
In most countries it is illegal to bring back these shells from holidays.”
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.
“Class Gastropoda Family Personidae Classification according to Turgeon et al. (1998)
Diagnostic characters: ¾ to 3 ½ inches in length; whorls distorted, aperture with grotesque arrangement of the teeth; siphonal canal twisted. Whorls with coarse reticulate pattern. Parietal shield glossy, reticulated with raised threads, colored white to brownish white. Slightly distorted body whorl evenly knobbed or reticulated; the parietal wall is generally reticulated.
Habitat: Moderately common, 9 to 119 m.
Range: North Carolina to Texas and the Caribbean; Brazil.”
“Sea urchins or urchins (/ˈərtʃɪnz/), archaically called sea hedgehogs, are small, spiny, globular animals that, with their close kin, such as sand dollars, constitute the class Echinoidea of the echinoderm phylum. About 950 species of echinoids inhabit all oceans from the intertidal to 5000 m deep. The shell, or “test”, of sea urchins is round and spiny, typically from 3 to 10 cm (1.2 to 3.9 in) across. Common colors include black and dull shades of green, olive, brown, purple, blue, and red. Sea urchins move slowly, and feed on mostly algae. Sea otters, starfish, wolf eels, triggerfish, and other predators hunt and feed on sea urchins. Their roe is a delicacy in many cuisines. The name “urchin” is an old word for hedgehog, which sea urchins resemble.
Sea urchins have conquered most sea habitats, on an extremely wide range of depths. Some species, such as Cidaris abyssicola, can live down to several thousands of meters deep. Many genera are totally indentured to the abyssal zone, such as many cidaroids, most of the genera in the Echinothuriidae family, or the strange genus Dermechinus. One of the deepest-living family is the Pourtalesiidae, strange bottle-shaped irregular sea urchins that live only in the hadal zone, and have been collected as deep as 6850 meters deep in the Java trench. Nevertheless, this makes sea urchin the class of echinoderms living the less deep, compared to sea cucumbers and crinoids that remain abundant below 8000m deep
Sea urchins can be found in all climates, from the warmest seas to the freezing polar seas (like the polar sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri). They adapt their diet to their environment : in rich ecosystems they feed mainly on algae, that allow a quick growth ; at the contrary in less rich bottoms they adopt a slower metabolism, adapted to a less calorific diet.
The shingle urchin (Colobocentrotus atratus), which lives on exposed shorelines, is particularly resistant to wave action. It is one of the few sea urchin that can survive many hours outside from the water.
Despite their presence in nearly all the marine ecosystems, most species are encountered on temperate and tropical coasts, between the surface and some tens of meters deep, close to photosynthetic food sources.“
This species is one of the largest cowries. It is quite similar in shape and colour to Macrocypraea cervinetta, but it is much larger. The maximum recorded shell length is 190 millimetres (7.5 in), while minimum length is about 40 millimetres (1.6 in).
The shell is elongated, its basic colour is light brown, with small whitish ocellated spots on the dorsum, like a young fawn (hence the Latin namecervus, meaning ‘deer’). Juveniles have no spots. The dorsum also shows a few transverse clearer bands, and a longitudinal line where the two edges of the mantle meet. The apertural teeth are dark brown. The mantle of the living cowry is dark greyish and completely covered in short fringes.”
The knobbed whelk is the second largest species of busycon whelk, ranging in size up to 12 in (305 mm).
Mating and egg laying occur during the spring and fall migration. Internally fertilized eggs are surrounded by a transparent mass of albumen, a gel-like material, and are laid in protective flat, rounded egg capsules joined to form a paper-like chain of egg cases, commonly called a “Mermaid’s Necklace”. On average each capsule contains 0-99 eggs, with most strings having 40-160 capsules. After laying their egg cases, female knobbed whelk will bury one end of the egg case into the substrate, thus providing an anchor for the developing fertilized eggs and preventing the string of egg cases from washing ashore where it would dehydrate. Fertilized eggs emerge as juvenile knobbed whelks approximately 4 mm in length.”
“Donax variabilis, common name the “coquina”, is a species of small edible saltwater clam, a marinebivalvemollusc in the family Donacidae, the bean clams. It is a warm water species which occurs in shallow water on sandy beaches of the East Coast of the USA.
The maximum reported size is 19 mm. The exterior of the small shell of this species can have any one of a wide range of possible colors, from almost white, through yellow, pink, orange, red, purple, to brownish and blueish, with or without the presence of darker rays.“
Vermicularia knorrii has a shell that reaches a length or 20 – 80 mm. The apex of this shell is pure white and translucent, while the later whorls turn to pale brown and shows prominent spiral cords. When it grows the shell becomes loosely and irregular coiled and the whorls do not touch each other any more.
SeaShell News, 3-9-15, Shelling, Cayo Costa & Lunch On Cabbage Key.
Nothing like a nice trip to shell the beaches of Cayo Costa Island and then a fun lunch at Cabbage Key!
Here’s a bit of history On Cabbage Key …
“In the early 1930’s, Alan Rinehart & Gratia Houghton Rinehart began preparation for their winter estate on the Island of Cabbage Key.
After purchasing Cabbage Key for $2,500 they later spent over $125,000 on the amenities which exist today as a popular resort.
Alan’s mother, Mrs. Mary Roberts Rinehart, was very much present during early construction years & her influence is evidenced today as one tours the island. The main building incorporates elaborate architectural & engineering features including a solar energy system, 6 working fireplaces, 5 porches, storm shelter & a rain water system with 25,000 gallon storage built into the reinforced concrete foundation. Constructed high on an Indian shell mound, Cabbage Key, at 38 feet above sea level, is one of the highest points in this area of Florida.
The “Old House & Cottages” were opened to the public by Larry & Jan Stults, who operated the small island resort between 1944 – 1969. After the Stults’, Bob & JoAnn Beck ran Cabbage Key.
The present owners, Rob & Phyllis Wells, have lived on & maintained the unique charm of the island for over 35 years.”