Sunday, June 24, 2007

Brown-Banded Wentletrap, Variable Dwarf Olive,Florida Auger

Brown-Banded Wentletrap Epitonium rupicola (Kurtz) - This is a beautiful shell. It's between 3/8-1 inch in length and it has a whitish exterior with brown spiral bands. It lives in sounds and just off-shore. It will occasionally wash up on the beach at the tide line. It is a carnivore and forages for the small anemones and secretes a substance that may anesthetize the anemones. It can be found from Cape Cod to Texas, but is more common in northern waters.

This shell is a Variable Dwarf Olive Olivella mutica (Say). It's about 1/2 inch and smooth, shiny and shaped like the larger olive shells. It's creamy white with three reddish brown spiral bands. It's a carnivore and the female lays egg capsules on any hard object found on the sandy bottom, often on empty bivalve or barchiopod shells. It's found from North Carolina to the Bahamas.
I'm not positive about this shell, but according to the Museum of Coastal Carolina on Ocean Isle Beach, NC, it is the Florida Auger, known as the Terebra Floridana (Dall). It's found from NC to Florida in moderately deep water.
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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sharp-Knobbed Nassa

This shell is very common on our beaches. It's called a Sharp-knobbed Nassa but other names are sharp-knobbed dog whelk or narrow basket shell. It's a scavenger and is reported to feed on mollusk egg capsules. It's found on the sand from the low-tide line to 20' deep in the water. It's range is NC to Texas. It's scientific name is Nassarius acutus (Say). The size is from 1/4 - 1/2".
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Friday, June 22, 2007

Skate egg cases

Here is the picture of the Skate egg cases I was telling you about. They are the egg cases of the clearnose skate (sometimes called a mermaid's purse or devil's purse). It is made of the material which is similar to that of finger-nails. In the sea, these cases will hold the embryos of the skate for several months and then split open to release the fully formed baby skates. From "Florida's Fabulous Seashells And Other Seashore Life" - Williams/Charmichael
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Friday, June 8, 2007

Finds on the Beach

Yesterday I came across something neat. It was an old piece of rope, or at least I think it is, and attached to it was a group of about 30 skate egg cases. I've seen one or two or even five attached together but never so many as this find. Needless to say, I dragged it home and put it on the porch to dry along with all the other items drying out (eg: sponges, 4 ghost crabs, a star fish (yes it was dead when I found it) and two large puffer fish (porcupine), one puffed up and the other, not. So, today, I'm going out at high tide to see if I can find more tiny shells ( I've run out of room for any more whelks so I have to look for the minuscule! Happy shelling!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bruised Nassa,Giant Bittersweet and Lettered Olive

Bruised nassa- Nassarius vibex (Say) is a small shell (about 1/2") with a rough surface. It has a coarsely beaded surface with equal spiral and axial ribs, resulting in about 12 ridges. It has a smooth inner lip with prominent parietal shield. It has a thick and toothed outer lip. It has a grayish brown exterior with a prominent cream-colored shield. It found in shallow-water sand flats on sound and ocean beaches. A scavenger, it also has been observed feeding on eggs of marine worms. (information from "Seashells of North Carolina by Porter and Houser North Carolina Sea Grant College Program")

Giant Bittersweet, Glycymeris americana (DeFrance)
Grows to 4 inches, is round and a somewhat flat shell. Indistinct broad radial ribs sculptured with radiating scratches. It has a central beak and a long curved hinge with 19-24 teeth. It's color is a grayish tan exterior and mottled with yellowish borwn. It lives offshore in depths of 75 feet near and south of the Capefear river. (Information from "Seashells of North Carolina by Porter and Houser - North Carolina Sea Grant College Program")

Lettered olive, Oliva sayana (Ravenel) A smooth, shiny, cylindrical shell with a short spire. Narrow aperture extending almost length of shell, continuing around the bottom and ending in a notch on the other side. No operculum. It's cream or grayish exterior with reddish brown zigzag markings and lives in near-shore waters on shallow sand flats near inlets. It's commonly washed onto ocean beaches. A carnivore, it captures bivalves and small crustaceans with its foot and takes them below the sand surface to digest. Its presence is sometimes detected at very low tides by the trails it leaves when it crawls below the surface on semi-exposed sand flats.
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Marsh Periwinkle and Florida Melampus

This is a Marsh Periwinkle, Littorina irrorata.
5/8-1 1/2" (1.6-3.8cm) high. These were found on the high tide line on Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Broadly ovate, think, sharply pointed except when eroded; Whorls smooth, slightly convex. Columellar area and inside of outer lip whitish, the latter with a dark margin and dark brown deep within. Habitat: on rocks intertidally. In Europe, this very common and abundant shell is still gathered and eaten by many people. Information from "The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashells pages 401-2.

The Florida Melampus, Detracia floridana is found at the high tide line. (5/8 ") Small, cone-shaped shell with a short, blunt spire. Long, narrow aperture with front end expanded. Color: Light to dark brown, occasionally with three to four darker-colored spiral bands. Also called a salt-marsh snail, this family has a primitive lung in place of gills and breathes air. The snail eats decaying plant matter but is believed to get its nutrients from the bacteria that live on decaying matter. Information found in"Seashells of North Carolina - NC Sea Grant College Program Porter and Houser".
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