The most fascinating part about being a daily beach comber is having the opportunity to witness life stages of creatures of the sea. Over the years, we’ve been so fortunate to see KINGS CROWNS (Melongena corona) in different life phases which I will show you today to round out the latest cool stage I saw this week at low tide. The first amazement about KINGS CROWNS is looking at the empty shell. We have been lucky enough to find quite a few empty KINGS CROWN seashells washing up on our beaches in Southwest Florida. They’re so beautiful!
To find a shell occupied with the MOLLUSK responsible for making such an architecturally brilliant home is always marveling to me. Two years ago, Clark found a ginormous LIVE KINGS CROWN in the shallow water. We were both in awe to see such a magnificent site of a warrior and king of his territory to grow to that size. We were happy to return it to it’s home in the water to reign over his kingdom.
There have been other KINGS CROWNS also happy and healthy after finishing a meal of CRAB de jour.
And we’ve seen them delighting in the main course of SOUTHERN QUAHOG sashimi.
But then, we’ve also seen the other side of the battle in the food chain. This huge LIVE TRUE TULIP made an appetizer out of this little guy. Now you see why these MOLLUSKS’ shells are perfectly empty at times- they get eaten by larger MOLLUSKS. This KINGS CROWN had no chance against this very strong large TULIP. Down the hatch, little KINGS CROWN.
We’ve also seen remnants of a different part of their life… We’ve found dried KINGS CROWN EGG CASES on the beach…
Speaking of EGG CASINGS…. One of the coolest things we’ve ever seen is this momma KINGS CROWN laying her eggs on an old shell. Clark picked up this whole mass not realizing she was right in the middle of giving birth. After I snapped a quick photo, Clark gently eased her back in the water and she went right along on her merry way to spit out a few more segments. A natural wonder we’ll never forget!
Notice that I said “One of the coolest things…”. I’ve got just as cool or maybe even cooler! I witnessed another miracle a few days ago… Baby KINGS CROWNS hatching out of their EGG SACKS!
This was such an awesome site to see! This was one of those days when I so wished I had one of those mack daddy cameras with the big macro lens. These babies were so itty bitty and I could see they still had the embryonic fluid….. okay honestly, I dont know if it was actually embryonic fluid… but I do know they had cute little slime trails on each of the EGG CAPSULES. So amazing!
We’ve seen so many different cycles in a KING”S CROWN life, I wanted to reminisce about them with you before I showed you the video of these babies in action? Yes! I have video! At the end of the movie, I made a slo-mo to make sure you see the little guy on the right wiggling away. Adorable! Enjoy! [youtube]http://youtu.be/qU4UxslCXe8[/youtube]
Me and my blog buddy Lizbeth sloshed around the sand flats at Bunche Beach yesterday looking for ANGEL WINGS. She found about 30 single valves earlier in the week so she wanted to go back to try to find a pair.
We found a few more single valves but nope… no pairs like MurexKen and MurexAlice found in November 2010. I think any day you can find one ANGEL WING is a good day but I know she will find a pair some day. She is determined! Did you notice that sweet little ROSE PETAL TELLIN in the photo too? Well, we found quite a few of those too. Here’s my stash…
We also found a few MINOR JACKKNIFE CLAMS…
We found more TELLINS too. These look like orange ROSE PETAL TELLINS (they are the same size) but they also could be CONSTRICTED MACOMA TELLINS. I’ve got a few feelers out there to see if anybody can correctly identify them. So hang on…
I know that just looks like “goo” on the inside but it’s really the color of the shell. It looks like it was stained, right? I hope to know soon what they are other than what I’ve been calling them… Dreamsicle Tellins.
UPDATE 6/16: Okay, got a positive identification from Dr Jose Leal from the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum…. it IS a ROSE PETAL TELLIN. Thanks Doc! (but I still think I might call it a Dreamsicle Rose Petal Tellin)
There were also oodles of SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS…
Lizbeth found this gorgeous SHARK EYE! Okay, I’ve always called any shell that looks like this a “SHARK’S EYE” but this is actually a FALSE SHARK EYE…
Look at the side view…
It’s actually a different shell that the ones we find with a rounded top. Susan H showed me this difference last year then commented on a previous post
“Hey Pam. As you probably noticed, that shark’s eye is the “other” species, the high-spired more southerly one that has a much more restricted range, Neverita delessertiana, rather than the low-spired regular shark’s eye which occurs from Massachusetts south, Neverita duplicata. Cool.”
You know I don’t like to get too technical so I took a photo with the two different species side by side so you can see the difference. The one on the right is a Neverita duplicate (SHARK EYE) and the one on the left is a Neverita delessertiana (I’ve see it called a FALSE SHARK EYE). See the difference? I think we should just call the one on the left a SHARK’S POPEYE. LOL
And how I loved seeing this next creature! It’s a live KINGS CROWN laying eggs! Go Momma! Make more babies!
Look at the brilliant orange beak on this bird. It’s an AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER…
I had a wonderful day hanging out with Lizbeth- the girl had my sides splitting ROTFL (I know, I’m not much for those acronyms but they really do explain it sometimes) while we hunted for her WINGS. Good luck in finding your pair!
Colorful moon snail
The moon was full and the low tides were in the early evening this weekend so it was a perfect time to get out and see Mother Nature on the beaches of Sanibel Island. This COLORFUL MOON SNAILwas about 2 1/2 inches round and so beautiful….but I didn’t get to bring it home because he was still alive and well…. that’s a good thing.
apple murex egg case
Last week I posted a picture of an APPLE MUREX mound then MurexKen commented on that post to let us know that it was a female laying eggs. Now, look what I found! This is what those eggs look like with some of the murexes still surrounding them.
Murex egg case
I found another smaller egg case too with only one murex still on it. Not sure if this is the female still laying more eggs but if so, where did all of her men go to?? Did she run them off?
King's crown with egg case
We hit the jackpot when we found this perfect KING’S CROWN in a shallow low tide pool on the east end. When we picked it up, we realized that it was still alive…. but more importantly, she was laying eggs too! She found an old FIGHTING CONCH and decided this would be a perfect place to “birth her babies” ;) . We gently put her back in the water where we found her so she could go about her way. We may not have been able to keep that gorgeous shell but just seeing Mother Nature in progress was hitting that jackpot for us.
Cathy (Orlando, FL)
Cathy from Orlando had her cup over-floweth with CALICO SCALLOPS, WHELKS, MUREXES and other treasures. She said she loves to come for weekends to go shelling any chance she gets. It was a beautiful Memorial Day holiday weekend for her to choose.
Low tide shelling