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]
I have found these in Alabama but the egg sacks have little barb-looking things on them – i always thought these were lightning welk egg sacks. is this true?
Pam I loved the amazing video of the King’sCrown hatching. How long does it take to go from the hatching size to say…fingernail size or 1″ long ? My daughter and I were down in May …we talked to you near SeaSide Inn and she had the dark beautiful Tulip !
I think it takes them about 4 months to grow to about 1 inch. It only takes them about a month to hatch after the momma lays the eggs. Cool stuff, huh?!!!
Awesome post Pam…great pics.
Pam, that’s some really good stuff right there!! Eggshellent!!
Are they already in the egg casings like the lightening. Whelks?
Their egg casings are similar to whelks but the kings crown capsules (the roundish disks) are more flat and the chain is not as long.
Fabulous Pam! Thanks for another great lesson in sea life.
Amazing photos and video…certainly a first for me. How lucky you were to be at the right place at the right time!
Impressive Melongena presentation. Congratulations.
Wow, that is fascinating!!! I would have gone crazy, too. I always enjoy your posts. :)
What a cool video. I don’t know if I would have seen the little babies hatching. They are so tiny. I know I couldn’t have gotten such a good video. I only found one kings crown this year. By the way-how often is there a supermoon?
I love Kings Crown! I can’t wait for the hunt in September!!! Thank you Pam!!! I just get so excited with each post…thank you, thank you, thank you!
Really cool post!
Love, love, love it! Thank you!
Pam, You are just the coolest! I love your humor and the way you share your adventures. It truly helps to educate and fuel the fire of us shellers!
Awesome post…Great pictures! LOVE the Video!!! Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely fantastic post Pam! One of my all-time favorites!!! Really really great! :)
This post is fantastic. I have yet been lucky enough to find a King’s Crown and to see the video only makes me want to find one even more. I have 1 1/2 days left on Sanibel, perhaps I will get lucky yet this trip. Thanks Pam for the baby lesson, See you next year some time, I’ll be watching for dates for your shelling trips. L-O-R-E-E from Ohio lol
Absolutely, positively amazing!
Absolutely amazing, so tiny and so adorable. Thanks for sharing, Pam.
Pam, that is so cool. they are little…. I have never seen that. Amazing. Thanks for sharing!
Pam.. You have an egg-cellent eye for what happening in the shallows and on the beach! Thanks for sharing this very special experience. Happy, Happy shelling! Susan
When I am there every spring (April), I always toss the egg casings back into the water that I see laying upon the sand. I keep trying to convince my husband that this needs to be my ‘job’ at Sanibel & that I should be there every day to do this! lol Tough job but somebody needs to do it! :) Thanks for always bringing Sanibel to me, Pam! Your blog keeps me going until my next trip to paradise!!!
I have seen those egg sacs before! Not in a long time though.
Pam – this is SO cool! King Crowns are my absolute favorite shell. But I haven’t found many empty King Crown shells in the past few years. I’m down in Sanibel shelling in the West Gulf drive area in February. Any suggestions on other shelling locations where I might have better luck? We’ve also seen live King Crowns scampering about in the shallow waters of DIng Darling. :-)
Very interesting to see them hatching. Can’t believe how tiny they are. How many babies would hatch from one casing? And are their shells hard or do they harden as the babies grow?
A-Maz-Zing! Truly…thank you for the video of the miracle that exists in the lives of the wonderful shells we collect when we come to Sanibel. I just love it when you share this information. “oh the mystery of life, I’ve found you” or something like that from the movie Young Frankenstein. I appreciate the environment so much and your information helps us all respect the environment that much more. Life is precious…all life and we really do need to stop and look at life’s minutiae as well as the bigger picture, yes? Love ya, girl! Keep ’em comin’! That teenie, tiny little King’s Crown leaving the trail is so stinkin’ cute! And I’ve not ever seen that egg casing before so I learned something new today. Thanks again, Pam.
Love the video! It’s amazing to see the line in the sand that the newborn makes. Thanks for pointing that out!
Ya know, the phrase “cute little slime trails” would make most people vomit just a smidge. It sounds perfectly natural from a sheller! lol!
LOL I didnt know what else to call it without knowing exactly what it is… slime says it all. hahahaha
Holy Cow! You said it was big but I was still surprised when I saw it in Clarks hand! I saw a shell almost that big in Goodwill yesterday but although I was whimpering when I saw it I stood firm on finding not buying my shells…. what was I thinking?
Great video and post!! love it, thanx as always :-)
That super low tide was so cool, wasn’t it? I’m back home in TN now, but enjoyed that evening tide on the 24th with the grandkids – got to show them the live olives and found an inch long LIVE whelk and the operculum was still almost yellow it was so “new”. What fun. Thanks for sharing the King’s Crown births – WOW….
Wonderful video looking forward to my visit in nov hope I find some kings
Thank you soooooo much, luv luv luv luv
This made my week thanks to you.
Luv you for all you do!
East Granby CT
Is it wrong of me to want a time machine, so I could speed things up? I could stand right there and watch those Kings crowns grow up, die of old age, and then I come in and scoop them up!! Love the video Pam, thanks!!
Pam, you are a wealth of information! Thanks!
What a GREAT video and lucky find :) Thanks so much for sharing it. Beth
WAY COOOOOOOOL!!!!! THANKS
I am living thru you while in Wisconsin. Love your posts and I feel your excitement. Cannot wait to get back there.
Thanks, Pam, for the great video of the egg casings…I have a question for you….how long does it take for the baby king crown to grow to be an inch long???
And again, I thank you for all the marvelous info you share with us, your readers…
I ALWAYS love your posts but this one is SO awesome! I love seeing the living shells! My dream as a child growing up on the gulf coast was to become a Marine Biologist who specialized in sea shell life. When at age 12 those dreamed were dashed when I moved to Oklahoma…..I grew up, earned a PhD in another field and have taught for 30 years….now as I am approaching retirement this inspires me to go back and do what my soul has always longed for….need to find a university now near Sanibel for sure!
are you still in Oklahoma? kind of wish our beautiful lakes had seashells! Sanibel is just paradise!
Love,love,love reading everything you write. Have not been Sanibel since 1988. I am from NJ the shore area. I love shelling !!! My good friend and I go to the beach at least 3 days a week, my husband and I take Buddy (the dog) during the off season. When I finally get there again I am going to bring some Jersey shore shells for you. They are not as beautiful but they are what we have ! Do you think your sharks eyes are these same as our moon snail shells ? Trying to plan a trip in March. Can’t wait
Thank you for this post. My husband found what we believe is a king’s crown shell on Little St. George Island in July. It is the most beautiful shell we have ever found and it is quite large. I put a picture of it on your facebook. We are trying to learn more about the animal who might live inside it. Do you know how long it would take the snail to grow to the size of the one your husband is holding as that is about the size of our shell. If you can look at your facebook and see the shell I posted, I am dying to learn more about it. It is a pale peachy color and not the classic stripes, so I am worried I have not correctly identified it, and want to learn more about it. Thank you for your help.