‘BEAUTY & THE BEACH’: A CLOSE LOOK AT SOME ABACO SHELLS
UGLY BUG BALL…
All shells – & the spider crab carapace – collected from the beach at Casuarina
UGLY BUG BALL…
All shells – & the spider crab carapace – collected from the beach at Casuarina
On 26th October 2012, the ‘roof’ of the geological feature at the southern tip of Abaco known for centuries as Hole-in-the-Wall was blasted apart by Hurricane Sandy. The combination of huge waves and powerful winds proved too much for a structure that had existed since the last ice age. I posted in detail about this event last year HERE so now I will concentrate on some geological aspects.
The photo below shows the Hole a year or so before its destruction. At the left-hand end of the bridge there is a paler area underneath where limestone rock had recently fallen into the sea, suggesting an underlying instability. At close quarters there were plenty of cracks in the apparently solid structure. (I’ve no idea why I didn’t straighten the image. Let’s say… Artistic Perspective)
This photo was taken a few days after the collapse, the first to be published of the new view. The clean white rock at either end of the ex-bridge is clearly visible. The section on the left became a new islet at the southern extremity Abaco, separated from the mainland for the first time in history. I proposed various names for it (not all serious) – Sandy Cay (or Isle) was the clear, indeed obvious, winner…
This close-up of the south side of the bridge shows the detail of the rock fragmentation. Tara’s photographs are (as far as I know) the very first of the new gap and of Abaco’s new islet, predating John Haestad’s by a day.
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We recently went to a beach near Crossing Rocks that we had never explored before (plenty of interest there for later posts). We were struck by the fragmented and pitted nature of the limestone rocks on the shoreline. We noticed some pale exposed rock surfaces, similar to those at Hole-in-the-Wall. We watched the incoming waves scouring and undercutting the rocks, leaving overhangs (see video below). Erosion is increased by the double action of the waves. The immediate area hinted that there may even have been a very small Hole at one time. On the day we were there, the sea was gentle. It’s easy to imagine how the hugely destructive force of the wind and crashing waves resulting from hurricanes such as Sandy can eventually shatter solid rock that has been gradually eroded and destabilised over centuries by wave action.
Photo credits as shown / RH. You have Mrs RH to thank for a shorter (50 secs) video than the one I originally made (75 secs). Now I’ve redone the thing, I agree – one wave does look very like the next…
ADDENDUM Just remembered that I took an aerial photo of HitW from the plane the other day. It’s a phone photo through BahamasAir window glass, and I’ve had to tweak it a bit. It shows the relevant area…all the blurry dark stuff is part the pine forest of the National Park
ADDENDUM 2 In response to a comment about the power of hurricanes, here is an image I have posted previously of a large rock some way out from the Delphi beach. Before Hurricane Irene in 2011, it was a solid rectangular slab. This is what it was like after Irene had moved on northwards
This post is the first of a planned series on Bahamian reef fish. Those who follow this blog (I thank you both) may recall with horror (or worse, pity) my own efforts with reef fish, using a tiny cellphone-sized video camera. Misty stills culled from video footage. Enthusiastically wobbly movies as I struggle to swim and breathe simultaneously in an alien element. I am more underwater CLOUSEAU than COUSTEAU. However, thanks to Melinda Riger, who with husband Fred runs GRAND BAHAMA SCUBA, I have kind permission to borrow and display images from her stock of wonderful reef fish photographs.
The spotted drum fish (or Jack-knife fish) belongs to a large worldwide family, the Sciaenidae. Besides other drum varieties, the family includes ‘croakers’. These species are all named for the repetitive throbbing or drumming sounds they make. This involves the fish beating its abdominal muscles against its swim bladder. If I find out the reason for this (Species communication? Food call? Alarm? Warning? A piscine ‘advance’? Happiness?) I will add it here in due course. Here an example of an atlantic croaker from the excellent DOSITS site (Discovery of Sounds in the Sea)
The spotted drum is one of the few fish of the species to inhabit coral reefs – most are bottom-dwellers (often in estuaries), avoiding clear water. These fish tend to be nocturnal feeders, feeding on small crabs, shrimp and small invertebrates. As far as I can make out they are solely (or primarily) carnivore, and do not graze on algae of other reef plant life.
The photos above are of adult spotted drums. The ones below are of juveniles, and show the remarkable growth-pattern of these fish, from the fragile slender creature in the top image, through the intermediate phase of the one below it (with the amazing brain coral), to the striking adult versions above. People like to keep these pretty fish in aquariums; fine, I’m sure there are plenty to go round, but these ones look pretty happy to me in their natural reef environment…
Juvenile drum fish (school-age)
Finally, I’ve just come across this short video from a “Florida Aquarium”, showing how these fish swim. It rather looks as though it has been fin-clipped for some reason… or just damaged, maybe
KING HELMET SHELLS (Cassis tuberosa) FROM THE DELPHI COLLECTION
It’s time to look at another shell from Delphi. The club has glass jars displaying small shells in the Great Room. Larger shells like the ones below are displayed on shelves. The King Helmet is the largest of the helmet shells of the family Cassidae. They are found in the Western Atlantic from North Carolina through the Caribbean and the gulf of Mexico down to Brazil. They tend to bury themselves during the day, becoming active and feeding at night. In humans this behaviour is found mainly in students and in those involved in the music business and similar louche occupations.
King Helmets prey mainly on sea urchins and other echinoderms, using their foot to grip their meal. The dining arrangements are somewhat protracted. The snail makes a hole in the urchin through the combined action of a glandular secretion which is rich in sulphuric acid, while using its RADULA to rasp and dig through the shell to get at the trapped occupant, which it gradually consumes… That’s enough about that.
FLAMINGO TONGUE SNAILS & SHELLS: COLOURFUL GASTROPODS OF THE CARIBBEAN
The FLAMINGO TONGUE SNAIL Cyphoma gibbosum is a small sea snail (marine gastropod mollusc), related to cowries. The live animal is brightly coloured and strikingly patterned, but that colour is only in the ‘live’ parts – the shell itself is pale and characterised by a thick ridge round the middle. These snails live in the tropical waters of the Caribbean and wider western Atlantic. Whether alive or dead, they are easy to identify.
This snail on the left (thanks, Wiki) is snacking on a coral stem, leaving a feeding track behind it. The structural shell ridge is clearly visible beneath the distinctively marked live tissue.
The flamingo tongue feeds by browsing on soft corals. Adult females attach eggs to coral which they have recently fed upon. About 10 days later, the larvae hatch. They eventually settle onto other gorgonian corals such as Sea Fans. Juveniles tend to live on the underside of coral branches, while adults are far more visible and mobile. Where the snail leaves a feeding scar, the corals can regrow the polyps, and therefore predation by C. gibbosum is generally not harmful to the coral.
The principal purpose of the mantle of tissue over the shell is as the creature’s breathing apparatus. The tissue absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. As I have seen it described (unkindly?) “it’s basically their lungs, stretched out over their rather boring-looking shell”.
This species was once common but is becoming rarer. One significant threat comes from snorkelers and divers who mistakenly think that the colour is the shell of the animal, collect up a whole bunch, and in due course are left with… (see photos below)
These photos are of flamingo tongue shells from the Delphi Club Collection. Until I read the ‘boring-looking shell’ comment, I thought everyone thought they were rather lovely… you decide!
Finally, a couple of videos. The first is rather charmingly titled ‘FLAMINGO TONGUES DOING…. SOMETHING’. Any (printable but amusing) suggestions via the Comment box are welcome (Hi Trish!). The second punchily summarises this post. Maybe that’s all that was needed!
ABACO SHELLS: 3 MORE FROM THE DELPHI CLUB COLLECTION
I have recently featured some of the shells from the collection amassed at Delphi – see SHELLS 1 and SHELLS 2. They are kept in vases or bowls for display and examination. They may not all come from the immediate vicinity, but they are all, for sure, from South Abaco. It’s time for some more.
PINK TRIVIA SHELL
LETTERED OLIVE SHELL
For further details about Spirula(e), please see the comment box where Capt Rick Guest gives a lot of fascinating info about them and related marine cast-offs. You’ll also find out which are the real prize ones to look out for…
Caribbean coral reefs are in danger of disappearing, depriving the world of one of its most beautiful and productive ecosystems
Guardian: Monday 10 September 2012 03.00 BST
• INTERACTIVE GUIDE: CORAL REEFS AROUND THE WORLD
• WHAT DOES A CORAL REEF SOUND LIKE?
Caribbean coral reefs – which make up one of the world’s most colourful, vivid and productive ecosystems – are on the verge of collapse, with less than 10% of the reef area showing live coral cover.
With so little growth left, the reefs are in danger of utter devastation unless urgent action is taken, conservationists warned. They said the drastic loss was the result of severe environmental problems, including over exploitation, pollution from agricultural run-off and other sources, and climate change.
The decline of the reefs has been rapid: in the 1970s, more than 50% showed live coral cover, compared with 8% in the newly completed survey. The scientists who carried it out warned there was no sign of the rate of coral death slowing.
Coral reefs are a particularly valuable part of the marine ecosystem because they act as nurseries for younger fish, providing food sources and protection from predators until the fish have grown large enough to fend better for themselves. They are also a source of revenue from tourism and leisure.
Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of the global marine and polar programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which published the research, said: “The major causes of coral decline are well known and include overfishing, pollution, disease and bleaching caused by rising temperatures resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. Looking forward, there is an urgent need to immediately and drastically reduce all human impacts [in the area] if coral reefs and the vitally important fisheries that depend on them are to survive in the decades to come.”
Warnings over the poor state of the world’s coral reefs have become more frequent in the past decades as pollution, increasing pressure on fish stocks, and the effects of global warming on the marine environment – in the form of higher sea temperatures and slightly elevated levels of acidity in the ocean – have taken their toll.
Last year, scientists estimated that 75% of the Caribbean’s coral reefs were in danger, along with 95% of those in south-east Asia. That research, from the World Resources Institute, predicted that by 2050 virtually all of the world’s coral reefs would be in danger.
This decline is likely to have severe impacts on coastal villages, particularly in developing countries, where many people depend on the reefs for fishing and tourism. Globally, about 275 million people live within 19 miles of a reef.
IUCN, which is holding its quadrennial World Conservation Congress on Jeju island in South Korea this week, said swift action was vital. The organisation called for catch quotas to limit fishing, more marine-protected areas where fishing would be banned, and measures that would halt the run-off of fertilisers from farmland around the coast. To save reefs around the world, moves to stave off global warming would also be needed, the group said.
On a few of the more remote Caribbean reefs, the situation is less dire. In the Netherlands Antilles, Cayman Islands and a few other places, the die-off has been slower, with up to 30% coverage of live coral still remaining. The scientists noted that these reefs were in areas less exposed to human impact from fishing and pollution, as well as to natural disasters such as hurricanes.
The report – compiled by 36 scientists from 18 countries – was the work of the IUCN-coordinated Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
This post is aimed at those with a particular interest in the flora and fauna – especially avifauna – of Abaco and its Cays. It is a naturalist’s account from 1886 of an expedition to Abaco, interspersed with a few line drawings. It’s an easy read if you are interested in Abaco, its history, and the state of natural life on the islands 125 years ago. Those who have come to this site for the photos and / or even the occasional jest are warned to expect neither. However, to tempt waverers I’ll highlight below (by way of a quiz) some intriguing aspects of the 9-page article. I have had to edit it to correct the many ‘literals’ in the open-source material; however the c19 spellings are retained. I’ve also added coloured subject-matter codes as follows: PLACE NAMES; BIRDS; PLANTS; FISH; CREATURES
In 1886, Herrick visited Abaco with a party of naturalists. This trip predated by 3 years the publication of Charles Cory’s groundbreaking ‘Birds of the West Indies‘. There would have been scant readily-available published material about the natural history of the Bahamas, let alone of Abaco itself. Herrick and a friend left the main party and went on their own wider explorations of Abaco with two local guides. Herrick recorded their findings, which were subsequently published in ‘Popular Science Monthly‘ in 1888. In Herrick’s wide-ranging account of the adventure you will find the answers to the following 15 questions. If any one of them whets your appetite to read this historic account, press the link below the quiz!
TULIP SHELLS & SUNRISE TELLINS: MORE SHELL TREASURES FROM ABACO
Here are two contrasting shells from the Delphi Club collection that has been haphazardly accumulated over the last 3 years or so. The first post in this shell series was about SEA URCHINS & SEA BISCUITS
TULIP SHELLS Fasciolaria tulipa
The term ‘Tulip snail’ includes 3 related species of sub-tropical gastropod worldwide, of the genus Fasciolaria. They are medium-sized predatory molluscs that breed throughout the year in warm waters. Their reproductive lives deserve some attention, if they will pardon the intrusion.
Research by the Smithsonian Marine Station Fl. reveals that the male’s penis is to be found on the right side of its body, directly behind its head… When they mate the (larger) female stays in an upright position on the sand while the male ‘flips over’ to align the apertures of both shells, before inserting the penis into the female (RH comment: the research is not specific about precisely where the female keeps her own genitals). Once joined, snail pairs may remain locked together for up to 2 hours, even when being watched by researchers. They have plenty of stamina: mating may occur several times in one season, and individual tulip snails have been observed to mate up to 3 times in a single week. Respect!
SUNRISE TELLINS Tellina Radiata
I included these pretty shells, with their striking pink radials, in an earlier post BEACHCOMBING BIVALVES The ones shown here are larger specimens. The hinges (muscles) are very delicate, and in these shells the two halves of the shells have separated. STs are not uncommon, but these are the largest I have come across (I realised after I had taken the photos that I should have used a coin for comparison…). They grow up to about 7 cms, and these ones were that length, or very nearly so.
I can’t assist with their sex lives I’m afraid, which may well be completely conventional, dull even. However, as I discovered when I previously researched these shells, “in most countries it is illegal to bring back these shells from holidays”. To which I can only repeat my comment: Whoops!
SEA URCHINS & SEA BISCUITS – BEACHCOMBING TREASURES ON ABACO
It’s time we had some more shells and other beach treasures on these pages. In the absence of star Abaco beachcomber and blog-contributor KASIA I have taken a closer look at the Delphi Club collection. This has been casually accumulated by the Club, its members and guests during the past 3 years whenever a good specimen has been encountered, and is displayed in the Great Room. The first items to catch my eye were the ECHINODERMS, a family that includes sea urchins, sand dollars, sea biscuits and star fish. Their sun-bleached tests are often found, though in my limited experience the larger they are, the rarer. The link above is to the Wiki-blurb, which has the unpromisingly daunting heading “This article may be too technical for most readers to understand…”. Now there’s a challenge!
First up is a very large SEA URCHIN, a thing of great delicacy and fragility that weighs next to nothing. I have never seen a bigger one. Looking at the fine detail, it is hard to believe that such perfection of symmetry and intricacy can exist in a creature so very painful to tread on.
SEA BISCUITS have similar five-way symmetry to their first cousins SAND DOLLARS but are generally pebble-shaped rather than disc-shaped. I have included 2 close-ups to show the fine details of the pattern – almost like lace-work
This SEA BISCUIT is a different type, with the 5 radials reaching right round it. For some reason it only has 4 and not 5 small holes (as one might expect) at the centre. Unlike SAND DOLLARS they tend to be more oblong than round.
BAHAMAS CONCH QUEST – GASTROPODS, SHELLS & CONSERVATION
Conchs are among the most familiar of all shells. On Abaco they are everywhere: in the sea, on the beach, used ornamentally in gardens, piled up wherever conch is on the menu… (basically, anywhere serving food)
Conchs have other uses besides being a staple food. They provide sought-after pink pearls. Only about 1 conch in 10,000 has a pearl, so bear in mind that if you miss one during your search, you may have another 10,000 to wade through… Conchs can produce music, of a sort (such as when used enthusiastically by the famous ‘conch-blower’ home-team supporter during cricket Test Matches in the West Indies). They are undeniably decorative on a porch or on a shelf.
Conchs have featured in literature and film. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies the conch represents power and order. A conch is blown to call meetings of the marooned boys. Its power is symbolised by the rule that you have to be holding it to speak at the meeting (an idea that many – all? – Parliaments could benefit from…)
Ian Fleming mentions conchs in several of the Bond books, all such references being totally eclipsed by the memory of the appearance, in the film Dr No, of Honeychile Rider emerging from the sea, conch in hand. Oh, I see. That’s just men is it? Or (good grief) just me? Anyway, may we all agree amicably that Ursula Andress was a most decorative conch carrier?
The supply of conchs is not infinite. Overfish them, take them before maturity or pollute their habitat and this valuable marine resource depletes – and conchs, as with so many marine species, will become threatened. Fortunately there is a Bahamas-wide conservation organisation with a website packed with interest.
COMMUNITY CONCH is “a nonprofit organization that aims to protect queen conchs in the Bahamas, a species of mollusk threatened by aggressive over-fishing. We promote sustainable harvest of queen conch through research, education and community-based conservation”
“Helping to sustain a way of life in the Bahamas”
Much of the research has been carried out in Berry Is, Andros and Exuma Cays. However the team has recently been based at Sandy point, Abaco. To see some of their work on Abaco CLICK LINK===>> ABACO EXPEDITION
In many past posts I have listed ’10 Essential Facts’ about the topic discussed. In that spirit I have borrowed and slightly edited CC’s conch facts; and added a CC video of a conch’s stately ‘full speed ahead’ progress. NB No zoom…
12 CONCH FACTS
A SPEEDY CONCH
HERMIT CRABS: SHELL-DWELLERS & CONTESTANTS FOR WACKY RACES
Hermit Crabs are all around – occasionally (sadly and unavoidably) underfoot. They borrow an empty shell, and as they grow they trade up to a bigger one, leaving their previous home for a smaller crab to move into. It’s a benign chain of recycling that the original gastropod occupant would no doubt approve of… The crabs are able to adapt their flexible bodies to their chosen shell. In the 1st 2 images the crab has chosen a somewhat weathered shell, into which he fits snugly
These crabs have found the Delphi Club bird feeders and taken up residence close by. They forage in the grass, many wearing West Indian top shells. One seems to want to climb the tree to get at the feeder…
They are sensitive to sound: approaching footfalls send them scurrying for shelter into the undergrowth or to holes in the limestone rock. They don’t all manage to fit into a hole so the ‘outsiders’ try to look inconspicuous by withdrawing into their shells, though from a predator’s point of view there are usually a couple of telltale legs sticking out…
Quick, everyone – hide! A human just trod on Derek…An entertaining after-dinner game (and I blame Caroline Stahala for starting this one) is hermit crab racing. Please note that no crabs are harmed in the course of these sporting proceedings, though some crabs may feel a little humiliated. The races can be played for money, of course, but the complete unpredictability and lack of any information about a crab’s previous racing form make that unwise. Far better to have a few drinks first. Then some more afterwards.
HERMIT CRAB RACING: THE OFFICIAL RULES
DELPHI HCR RACE REPORT 2012
Others resort to unorthodox methods like ‘foot-persuasion’ to keep their crab on course. RH didn’t realise this was allowed at all, and watched his crab dive pathetically off the edge of the verandah into the flowerbed – an irrecoverable drop of 6 inches
Most of the crabs went forwards as intended, though with a certain amount of lateral movement. 2 or 3 seemed to have got the general idea of the race and proceeded more or less according to plan
The impressive winner, by nearly half a minute, was the crab named ‘Emma’. A well-deserved victory, especially as the owner / trainer’s foot-directing was minimal (bare feet!)…
The one thing I would like to know about these little creatures is how they – and their shells – are to be found in large numbers 50 foot above sea-level at the top of a cliff…
Kasia’s back! She recently explored a rather unpromising-looking stretch of Abaco coastline, and it proved to be anything but… Kasia writes: The story goes: one day I took myself for a walk and a bit of beachcombing. I usually don’t bring my camera with me but luckily this time I did. This particular beach looks very barren but on close inspection and a patient eye there are some lovely treasures to be found. Here are some of the treasures I captured!
Great close-ups… are those eggs behind this first one? There’s a similar image in the Macmillan ‘Marine Life of the Caribbean’ but unfortunately neither the caption nor the text refers to them. ADDENDUM: Colin Redfern writes: The “eggs” behind the chiton are fecal pellets
WEST INDIAN TOP-SHELLS (Cittarium Pica)
It looks as if someone… or something… has been having a Nerite feast on the shore. A bird maybe? I had taken the shells above and below to be another variety of Nerite, but as so often scientist and shell expert Colin Redfern has kindly corrected the error. He writes: “Very nice photos. The “nerite feast” is actually a pile of broken West Indian Top-shells (Cittarium pica). The photo immediately above shows a live group of the same species. This is what Bahamians call a whelk (or wilk), and in the lower photo they have been harvested, probably for a stew.
ROCK POOL MISCELLANY
I am trying to ID a much as I can in this pool. All suggestions welcome via ‘Leave a Comment’. So far, the corals are Brain Coral and Pink Coral (I think) but I am going see what else can be given a name…
RED ROCK URCHINS
PETERSON FIELD GUIDE Abbott / Morris 350pp
An excellent and comprehensive field guide which covers the area as thoroughly as one could wish. It’s not exactly a pocket book, and at 350 pages it’s quite a chubby paperback – but the sort of size you’d happily throw into a day-bag or backpack. This authoritative shell guide dates from 1947, with frequent reprints. Mine is a fourth edition (1995) – there may be a 2002 one.
Currently £18 from Amazon UK, or new / used for around £7 (a bargain); and a great deal cheaper on Amazon US. Overall 4* reviews
Rolling Harbour rating *****
THE BOOK IN A CONCH SHELL
We recently discovered this shell loitering at the back of a drawer. It may well have been there for a couple of years… I had no idea what species of gastropod it might be, so I turned to a book I recently bought (and am about to review), the Peterson Field Guide on Shells. It is extremely thorough and well-illustrated, and almost at once I was able to pick the shell out as a STOCKY CERITH Cerithium Litteratum (Colin – are you still keeping an eye on the shell ID errors in this blog, I wonder? Later: yes… and he confirms the ID. Many thanks). It’s a couple of inches long and has 7 spirals before the tip part, with pronounced nobbles on the lowest 4. There’s a neat hole in it, but I don’t know whether caused by sea / beach damage or a predator. These creatures live in shallow water and are common throughout the Caribbean. So this one is nothing unusual, but I am pleased that it has eventually turned up…
The serious conch action in Sandy Point is to be found at the jetty. I learned a simple beginner’s lesson on our first visit to Abaco. If you choose a large gorgeous-hued conch from the huge pile in the 4th photo to take back home, it will quickly start to smell dodgy, followed by evil… until you clean it properly!
A MISCELLANY OF BOOKS MORE OR LESS RELEVANT TO ABACO LIFE
These are not books I have read myself. They are books that may be of interest to readers of this sort of blog. Islandy. Beachy. Mariney. A whiff of wildlife. They will be collected together under the BOOKS ETC menu as the series expands. If one of them catches your eye, then check online for reviews, reader ratings and prices. If I get round to one or more of them I will add my own views, but I am still gradually working through wildlife books that I have already paid for…
1. FLOTSAM, JETSAM & OCEAN DEBRIS
Flotsametrics and and the Floating World: How One Man’s Obsession With Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science
by Curtis Ebbesmeyer & Eric Scigliano
“Curtis Ebbesmeyer has made important discoveries about everything from currents to the huge floating garbage patches in the ocean to how life was first spread on earth and how the Vikings settled Iceland. In the tradition of John McPhee’s bestselling books on scientists who both study and try to protect the natural world, The Floating World offers a fascinating look at the creativity and energy of a most unusual man—as well as offering an amazing look at what currents have meant for the world and especially mankind through the centuries. Hardcover; PP: 288; Illustration: 10-15 images throughout” Smithsonian Store
by Skye Moody
“The ocean gives up many prizes, just setting them on our beaches for us to find. From rubber ducks that started out somewhere in Indonesia to land Venice Beach, to an intact refrigerator makes it way to the Jersey Shore. Chunks of beeswax found on the Oregon coast are the packing remnants of 18th century Spanish gold. Author Skye Moody walks the coast, dons her wet suit, and heads out to sea to understand the excellent debris that accrues along the tideline. There she finds advanced military technology applied to locating buried Rolexes, hardcore competitive beachcombing conventions, and isolated beach communities whose residents are like flotsam congregated at the slightest obstacle on the coastline. This book confirms that the world is a mysterious place and that treasure is out there to be found” (Publisher’s Fluff)
Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and the Science of Ocean Motion
by Lorree Griffen Burns
“Tracking Trash is the story of Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who studies the movement of ocean currents. Dr. Ebbesmeyer’s work has attracted attention because he has received much of his information from studying trash. It all began when his mother heard about sneakers that were washing up on a beach after a cargo ship lost one of its containers. Since then, he has tracked sneakers, Lego’s, and even rubber duckies that have been accidentally spilled at sea and made their way to shore. By understanding how ocean currents move, scientists hope to solve many problems such as fish shortages and animals being caught in fishing nets. This book was very enjoyable to read and easy to understand. The pictures were large and engaging. The author did a great job at making it feel like a story while at the same time giving a lot of scientific information” (Satisfied Amazon Punter)
I have just spotted that this book is about to be reprinted and, I imagine, updated at the end of February, so I am adding it to the collection. I note in passing that it is published by Penguin…
One 5* review on Amazon UK sets the scene: “This is a book that follows the journey of plastic ducks, turtles, frogs and beavers after the container they are in falls overboard and breaks open on impact with the sea. Moby Duck is fact that reads as good as fiction. The Author doesn’t only traverse the world of escapee plastic toys but meanders his way through a factory in China that makes bath toys, gets on a ship that is on research mission even though he has a fear of open water and even ends in Alaska where the first plastic duck was found. This is a great read, for anyone who likes a quirky book that tells a true story with wit, charm and gentle humour. Moby Dick is never far away in this book, only he has been transformed into Moby Duck…”
Amazon.com has 42 reviews, averaging a disappoining 3.5*. Some are ecstatic, some lukewarm, few can resist the golden opportunity proffered by the author to be “puntastic”. I like the one titled “An Eclectic Tale, but Caught in Its Own Eddy in the End”. Maybe that is the most astute summary of all.
ANOTHER STROLL ALONG THE SHORE WITH KASIA
After all the recent excitement – well I was excited, anyway – involving Mars Mission space rocket debris washed up on the Delphi Club Beach CLICK MARS ROVER it’s a gentle touchdown back onto a sandy beach for some more of Kasia’s finds. First, a shell which I believe (tempting fate) I have correctly ID’d for once. Then a half crab shell, at a guess a spider crab’s roof.
KING VENUS CLAM Verenidae – Chione Paphia
These bivalve molluscs seem to be inoffensive, and to lead rather dull lives: so far all I have discovered is that “they live buried in sand at depths of 1 – 20 fathoms” I shall investigate further & report back – there must be some small creature they molest or upset in some way…
Kasia has returned to grace the blog with treasures from her Abaco beach-combing from the Delphi Club and further afield. Expect more shells, more sea glass… and more mystery objects. We have already had part of a RAY’S PALATE and a PACIFIC ANGARIA SHELL that had somehow arrived on the shores of Abaco. There’s a long thin WHITE BONE, as yet unidentified (no suggestions yet). And now this extraordinary item…
To which my answer is “not the faintest idea”. My guesses are (1) a fossilised vertebra of some medium-sized creature (2) a fossilised ‘soft’ rock that worms have been at (but why only on one side?) (3) a bread roll that went disastrously wrong in the baking…
All suggestions welcome, preferably via the COMMENT box (so others can view them); or to rollingharbour.delphiATgmail.com (spam guard: convert AT to @)
STOP PRESS Mystery quickly solved, thanks to Colin Redfern who says “This is part of the remains of a colony of Petaloconchus worm-shells (molluscs). They attach to rock or coral, and the colonies can be quite large.” Colin’s website includes some examples from his archive, one chunk being very similar to Kasia’s
KASIA’S MYSTERY ABACO SHELL: A PUZZLE FOR XMAS
Kasia’s beachcombing exploits have produced some lovely seashells that have already featured here. Precise identification has sometimes been difficult for an amateur, because of the many varieties of a particular type of shell or close resemblance to other shell families. This one has got me stumped. I have trawled the internet. I have studied field guides. I’m still baffled. It hasn’t quite matched any other shell…
XMAS PRIZE the first person to ID this shell correctly will enjoy a bottle of ice-cold Kalik being drunk on the Delphi balcony swing in February 2012. By me. Suggestions to email@example.com welcome
STOP PRESS: NOW SOLVED – SEE UNDER IMAGES
First entry by Kasia (potentially disqualified as the shell’s owner): Angaria, a form of Turban shell. However these seem to be confined to Pacific areas…
The Solution: And the winner (within 24 hours) is… Kasia!
I sent the link to the post to Bahamian seashell expert Colin Redfern at http://www.bahamianseashells.com, author of ‘Bahamian Seashells: 1000 Species from Abaco, Bahamas’. He confirms Kasia’s ID as an ANGARIA SHELL , one of a large number of species of turban shells TURBINIDAE found throughout the world. It is indeed a Pacific shell, probably from the Philippines. So what on earth was it doing on a beach on the east coast of Abaco? Colin has encountered this sort of anomaly before, and gives various possible explanations:
1. Homeowners’ shell collections come from areas other than the Bahamas & are sometimes thrown out onto a beach. They may be washed up along the coast
2. Shops sell packets of shells, including Pacific shells, which may become dispersed
3. In Fl. it is not unknown for resorts to “seed the beach” with Pacific shells, which are cheaper & more easily bulk-bought than Atlantic shells
4. Rare Pacific & Indian Ocean shells washed up on a beach were once traced to the owner, whose beach house had been lost in a hurricane some years before
Many thanks, Colin, for your help with this puzzle; and congratulations Kasia – I’ll claim my Kalik in February please. Oh I see, I’ve got to buy you one, have I?