Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Sea Shells" in Sandy Places

.A Queen Conch, pronounced: konk.  This one is large, perhaps 12 inches, 30cm from tip to tip.  They live five to seven years.  The animal inside, this giant snail, has been a food for humans for many centuries.  And they can be over harvested; there was a five year moritorium on St Croix a while back, and now the harvest season is closed in the summer to let them reproduce.  I'm not sure how often they lay eggs, but each ? clutch of eggs is something like 250,000 eggs!  I'll have to go look in my book for how many egg masses a female lays, and how often.
I rudely turned the creature upside down to take this photo.  You can see the conch's 'foot' and eyes, peeking out.  They are so helpless.  I usually just say "Hi!" and don't bother them.  The shell has a crack along the skirt, I wonder what disaster this Conch endured?
.This is a juvenile Queen Conch, probably two years old.  Once they reach maturity, reproduction age, their shell starts flaring out, making the beautiful skirt.  Some people call this a "Round Conch" and believe it's a different animal than the bigger adults.  They're harvested and eaten, but shouldn't be.
Like human children in school, Conchs of different ages live in different places.  The tiny babies live in shallower bays, and as they grow, they wander about, gradually into deeper and deeper water, to about 100 feet, 30m.

.Aha, another "shell"  Actually a Mollusk.  A 'shell' is the dead skeleton you find on the beach.

Poor fellow, I picked him up for a photo.  He was terrified instead of vain.  I've seen this mollusk occasionally, but it's not listed in my handy Paul Humann "Reef Creature" ID book.  The shell is very thick and solid.  I'll have to dig into my other books for the name.  The bluish bit is some algae stuck to his foot.

If you brouse a shell ID book, there are hundreds of mollusks, shells, but diving, it's a rare sighting to find mollusks.  I guess they hide, and have good camoflage, because they're so tasty.

OK, all for now, thanks for stopping by, and the kind words.


  1. Lucky mollusk, holding hands, wish I was him.

  2. Haha, so is the little boogie, nice. I hope I didn't upset him too much. I'm awfully big and alien!