SMALL SHELLS FROM CASUARINA, ABACO


Abaco Shell 3b

SMALL SHELLS FROM CASUARINA, ABACO

Abaco Shell 1Abaco Shell 4Abaco Shell 2Abaco Shell 5Abaco Shell 6

The shell species below (also in the header picture) is an olive. It turns out to have potential to star in a small maritime horror movie. Capt Rick Guest, who kindly keeps an eye on my shell and other sea-related posts, writes “Interestingly, the previous occupant of the first and last shell pictured here is a major predator of the other Bivalve shells shown. The Olive shell hides under the sand by day, then emerges at night to feast upon small Bivalves, and any other available prey. One can often trace the nocturnal trails of this Olive shell in sand on calm mornings with mask and snorkel, and thrust a hand under a trails end for this fellow. When kept in an aquarium, they will consume any meat offered.” “Olive and Let Die”, maybe?Abaco Shell 3aAbaco Shell 7

SHORE THINGS: BEACHCOMBING ON A PRISTINE ABACO BEACH


Shore Things 16

SHORE THINGS: BEACHCOMBING ON A PRISTINE ABACO BEACH

The Abaco bay known as Rolling Harbour is a 3/4 mile curve of white sand beach, protected by an off-shore reef. The beach is pristine. Or it would be but for two factors. One is the seaweed that arrives when the wind is from the east – natural and biodegradable detritus. It provides food and camouflage for many species of shorebird – plover and sandpipers of all varieties from large to least. The second – far less easily dealt with – is the inevitable plastic junk washed up on every tide. This has to be collected up and ‘binned’, a never-ending cycle of plastic trash disposal. Except for the ATLAS V SPACE-ROCKET FAIRING found on the beach, that came from the Mars ‘Curiosity’ launch. Sandy's Mystery Object

We kept is as a… curiosity, until it was eventually removed by the men in black…

Shore Things 14I’d intended to have a ‘plastic beach trash’, Atlantic-gyre-rage rant, with angry / sad photos to match. Instead, I decided to illustrate a more positive side to beach life – things you may discover when you take a closer look at the sand under your feet. Like the coconut above. Many of these photos were taken by our friend Clare Latimer (to whom thanks for use permission); some by me.

Shore Things 13A LONE FLOWERShore Things 17SEA STAR (DEFUNCT), WITH CRAB TRACKSShore Things 21SEA FAN (GORGONIAN)Shore Things 15WASHED-UP BOTTLE (PROBABLY NOT RUM)Shore Things 12

SEA BISCUITSShore Things 9

Thanks to Capt Rick Guest, who has contributed an interesting comment regarding the sea biscuit with a hole in it. He writes “the (Meoma) Sea Biscuit w/ the hole in it was dined upon by a Helmet Conch. The Cassis madagascariensis, or C.tuberosa drills the hole w/ its conveyer-belt-like radula teeth w/ some help from its acidic, saliva. Probably 98% of all symetrical holes in marine invertebrates are of this nature. Murex, Naticas, Helmets, and many Cephalapods (via a Stylet), are the usual B&E suspects. The Cone shells utilize a modified radula in the form of a harpoon which is attached to a venom tube.” For more on the vicious cone shell, and other creatures to avoid, click HERE

DRIFTWOOD. IT’S LIKE… OH, USE YOUR IMAGINATIONShore Things 5A WILSON’S PLOVER NESTShore Things 11HORSESHOE CRAB (LIMULUS)Shore Things 4SCULPTURE? AN EMBRYONIC SHELTER? Shore Things 3LARGE BIRD FOOTPRINTSShore Things 18MORE BIRD PRINTS AND CRAB TRACKSShore Things 19 CRABUS CUTICUSShore Things 6CONCH SHELLS & OTHER BEACH TREASURESShore Things 8Shore Things 20CRAB HOLE & TRACKSShore Things 22SOME IDIOT’S LEFT HIS… OH! IT’S MINEShore Things 7

‘BEAUTY & THE BEACH': A CLOSE LOOK AT ABACO SHELLS


Abaco seashell 11

‘BEAUTY & THE BEACH': A CLOSE LOOK AT SOME ABACO SHELLS

Abaco seashell 10Abaco seashell 7bAbaco seashell 6bAbaco seashell 3bAbaco seashell 2bAbaco seashell 1bAbaco seashell 4bAbaco Shells 12bAbaco seashell 5bAnd to end with, not a shell but a somewhat unattractive head shot…Abaco seashell 9b

BEAUTY PARADE

Abaco seashell 7aAbaco seashell 6aAbaco seashell 3aAbaco seashell 4aAbaco Shells 12 aAbaco seashell 5a

UGLY BUG BALL…

Can anyone ID this? It’s not what I thought… *later* yes they can! See comments for the debateAbaco seashell 9b

Skull 2

All shells – & the spider crab carapace – collected from the beach at Casuarina

BEACHCOMBING: AN INVASION OF BEADS AT ROLLING HARBOUR


DCB GBG Cover Logo dolphin

BEACHCOMBING: A BEAD INVASION AT ROLLING HARBOUR

The Delphi Club beach at Rolling Harbour is an undeniably beautiful 3/4 mile curve of white-sand bay, shelving gently into pale blue water. Many interesting things get washed up on the shore, besides shells, sea glass, and vast quantities of seaweed (with a fair amount of junk) that must be regularly cleared. It’s a good place for desultory beachcombing, and some of the finds have featured in earlier posts, with the help of KASIA

Delphi Club, Rolling Harbour, Abaco

Of course that is not in the least unusual in these parts, though Delphi can claim the unique distinction of a 12 foot booster rocket fairing from the Mars ‘Curiosity’ launch, washed up early in 2012 (see short posts on the developing story at ONE & TWO & THREE)

Sandy's Mystery Object

There are large glass and wooden floats. Things that might be car parts. Wooden pallets. Not, as yet, any of the yellow plastic ducks so often written about (see book review of MOBY DUCK). Now, we have an invasion of coloured beads. 2012 has been a prime year for bead beachcombing, a specialist field. At times, guests have had a field day (if you can have one of those on a beach?) collecting these small beads. One large flagon has already been filled and, as Peter Mantle observes, “our cup runneth over”.

An important Christmas task – and not a difficult one, I envisage – will be to empty another suitably large vessel. Drinking is likely to be involved. Meanwhile, an explanation for this beach bead influx over many months would be good to find. A container of children’s toys sadly washed overboard? Evidence of some arcane fishing method? An explosion in a necklace factory? Beads deemed unsuitable for rosaries? Rejects from the World Marbles Convention? Has anyone else experienced finding these multicoloured beads on their local beaches? I know that a few beachcombers follow this blog (thanks!) from other parts of the world. Any beads? All contributions by way of the COMMENT link, or an email to rolling harbour.delphi[at]gmail.com, welcome.

Some of the beads collected during the year – another container needed urgently
Beachcombing Beads

FLAMINGO TONGUE SNAILS & SHELLS: COLOURFUL GASTROPODS OF THE CARIBBEAN


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!

STIMULATING CURIOSITY IN ABACO: DELPHI CLUB’S SMALL PART OF THE MARS MISSION


One of the first colour images from the Mars rover Curiosity – a composite panorama 9 August 2012 (NASA)

STIMULATING CURIOSITY IN ABACO

THE DELPHI CLUB’S PART OF THE MARS ROVER MISSION

One of the first images from Mars

CURIOSITY landed on Mars today. This is the best chance yet of answering Ziggy Stardust’s rhetorical question “Is there life on Mars?”, and doffing an astronaut’s helmet to space pioneer Major Tom along the way… Assiduous readers of the blog will both recall that a while ago, the Delphi Club was privileged to be involved in a small part of the ‘Curiosity’ Mars Rover project. It’s a prime example of what one might call “extreme beachcombing…”

“One small part for a space program, one giant chunk of junk for the Delphi beach…” (S Walker)

Here are the links to the 3 short illustrated reports (rockets, boys!) in this blog from early 2012

1. ABACO BEACHCOMBING: MYSTERY OBJECT FROM THE DELPHI CLUB BEACH HERE 1 

The discovery by Sandy Walker of the item above on the Delphi Club beach, Abaco: 12 feet of conical mystery

2. ‘SO LONG, ARIANE’: FROM ROCKS TO ROCKETS ON THE DELPHI CLUB BEACH, ABACO HERE 2 

News of a positive ID by serial number as rocket débris from the Mars Program Curiosity Rover launch

3. BEACHCOMBING ‘CURIOSITY’ ON ABACO: OUT OF THIS WORLD TO THE RED PLANET HERE 3

Confirmation of this item as part of the booster rocket fairing of the Altas V rocket used to launch Curiosity in Nov 2011 

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The episode had a slightly bathetic ending. Initial lack of official interest in the cone, which I personally hoped could then be planted deep in the coppice or pine forest for future generations to discover and wonder about, suddenly changed. In due course a team of astro-science persons (in a large black truck and white protective suits, I’d like to believe) came and took it away. This forestalled my other idea: cutting it up into hundreds – or thousands –  of small pieces and selling them on eBay (possible in aid of the Abaco Parrots). A 12 foot cone of gleaming heat-resistant secret Abaconite space material. 5000 tiny pieces @ $100 each… Hmmmmmmmmm

Here are some links to play with

OFFICIAL MARS EXPLORATION PROGRAM SITE

WIKI-DETAILS

(Oh come on, admit it, you enjoyed those just a bit?)

Credit NASA / Telegraph

 

1ST ANNIVERSARY “ESSENTIAL ABACO WILDLIFE FACTS” COLLECTION


Today is the 1st birthday of this blog, on the very day that the hit count passes 37,000. I started out last April, with faltering steps, into the mysterious world of the blog – setting it up, getting ‘stuff’ posted, finding out about birds, creatures, shells and much else from scratch. The learning curve has modified slightly and has a less vertiginous ascent. We are now mostly under control here at Rolling Harbour HQ… It’s been a year of Parrots, Whales, Hurricanes, Mars Probe Booster Rockets and other beachcombing mysteries. As year 2 begins, huge thanks to the many who have contributed so far, or generously given advice and (mainly) constructive criticism along the way, or simply taken the time to have a look. Especially if you came back for more…

Here to celebrate the day is the Official Rolling Harbour Collection of  some of the “Essential Facts” that have appeared in various posts over the previous year. It is, needless to say, essential reading. Amaze or alienate your friends with your esoteric knowledge of the length of an adult male manatee’s intestines…

ESSENTIAL HUMMINBIRD FACTS

  • The colourful throat of a (male) bird is known as a ‘gorget’
  • Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards
  • There are 320 species of hummingbird worldwide
  • The smallest is the bee hummingbird of Cuba, at 2″ for an adult
  • John Gould, the c19 ornithologist and artist, invented many of the names to reflect the varied and iridescent colours of the birds.
  • Hummingbird wings beat as much as 75 times per second
  • Hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rate of any warm-blooded creature; also the largest hearts (proportionately, obviously…)
  • There are many collective nouns, including a “bouquet”, “glittering”, “hover”, “shimmer”, and “tune” of hummingbirds
  • On the TCI, the Bahama Woodstar is known as ‘The God Bird’ 

10 MEMORABLE MORSELS OF MANATEE MINUTIAE

  • The 4 species of Sirenia are the West Indian, Amazonian and West African manatee; and the Asian / Pacific dugong. 
  • Fossil remains of Florida manatees date back 45 million years; their closest living relative is the elephant
  • Manatees are also known as Sea Cows. Some say sailors who’d been at sea for too long took them to be mermaids, a mistake I doubt they made twice…
  • They can weigh up to 1,300 lb and measure up to 13 feet. Females are larger than males. Baby manatees may weigh 65 lb. Adult intestines can reach 45 meters which would take Usain Bolt 4.31 seconds to run past (if straightened out, obviously)
  • Accurate population estimates seem to be impossible to obtain, varying by season and by year for no apparent reason. Overall,  the picture is of a declining population, with extinction likely without further protection
  • West Indian Manatees can move freely between extremes of salinity, and may be found in warm shallow coastal waters, in estuaries, or migrated into rivers to freshwater springs (as in Florida). They cannot survive below 15°C (60°F). They have a propensity to hang around the warm-water outflows of power stations
  • Manatees have some intelligence and demonstrate discrimination and task-learning similar to dolphins.Their eyelids close “in a circular manner”, though I can’t quite picture this. They have only 6 teeth in each jaw, which are replaced throughout their lives
  • They breed every other year. Gestation lasts 12 months, and it takes a further 12 to 18 months to wean the calf. A single calf is born. Apart from mothers with a calf or males showing off to females, manatees tend to be solitary creatures
  • They are herbivores, eating many plant species, such as mangrove leaves, turtle grass, and types of algae. An adult manatee can eat up to 10% of its body weight per day. They have been known to eat small amounts of fish from nets
  • Half a manatee’s day is spent sleeping in the water. The rest of the time they graze in shallow waters. They swim at 3 to 5 mph, faster in short bursts. They may live up to 60 years (surprisingly, given their punishing daily schedule)
  • The oldest manatee in captivity is Snooty, at the South Florida Museum. He was born at the Miami Seaquarium on July 21, 1948 and came to the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida in 1949

10 ESSENTIAL YET GRISLY MUREX FACTS

  • Murex are highly carnivorous with rasping teeth, and drilling equipment for boring into the shells of their prey
  • A determined Murex may take up to 5 days to drill into its prey
  • Murex also use their foot to smother prey, or to crush it by using suction power
  • They eat clams by hoovering them up with their foot and smashing them on rocks to get at the occupant
  • They happily eat sea-floor carrion and sea-kill
  • Murex act in packs to carry out raids on unsuspecting beds of clams, which they feast on avidly
  • They are sexually wanton. Females store sperm from different males for many months, eventually producing embryos with different dads (I’m not making this up. I would like to have done so)
  • Cannibalism occurs. The kids are equally prone to extreme delinquency and are happy to eat each other when peckish
  • Some species of murex secrete a fluid that is believed to be used to drug their prey into paralysis
  • That same fluid (Murex / Mucus) is also used as a dye, ‘Tyrian’ or ‘Royal’ Purple, which can be ‘milked’ from a living murex (the Aztecs & Phoenicians did this). I’ll pass on that…
POTCAKE POT POURRI
  • Potcakes are a mixed-breed dog of the Bahamas & TCI, named after the layer of dried rice and peas in  the bottom of cooking pots, traditionally fed to stray dogs
  • Appearance and colouring varies considerably from island to island. Mostly commonly they are (mainly) brown, have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. Adults typically weigh from 45 to 50 pounds (20 to 23 kg)
  • Potcakes have a wandering tendency. There are many strays on every island – often considered a nuisance. Volunteer organizations re-home strays,  and offer free spaying and neutering
  • Potcakes are often used for hunting hogs. Some are trained to locate fish through  scent on the water and the cries of feeding sea birds
  • Potcakes may originate from 3 canine types: (1) dogs brought by the Arawak  to the Bahamas; (2) terriers protecting supplies from rodents on ships to the Bahamas; (3) Dogs that arrived with Loyalists during the Revolutionary War
  • In the 1970s the potcake dog was officially recognized in The Bahamas as the “Royal Bahamian Potcake”. In February 2011, they were accepted by the Bahamas Kennel Club in the category ‘Group 9 Non-Registered’
  • A potcake dog named Amigo has been the mascot of the Humane Society of Grand Bahama. He ‘served as an Ambassador of Hope for homeless animals’ until his death in 2007, and appeared on TV
  • Potcakes have featured in a set of special-issue Bahamas stamps (as have Bahama Swallows)

10 MEMORABLE FACTS ABOUT LIGNUM VITAE

  • Traditionally, it was used for making British Police Truncheons (now made of soft fluffy pink fabric to reflect new caring policing methods)
  • Its physical qualities made it widely used in shipbuilding (though presumably not the whole ship, which would sink instantly)
  • Cabinet-makers, stone-carvers and gem-cutters all use the wood in their crafts
  • LV has many engineering uses. The wood is self-lubricating and is ideal for bearings. The 1st nuclear submarine had some of these
  • The world-renowned  UK fishing rod maker Hardy’s made a famous ‘Greenheart’ rod
  • LV has medical uses, including for arthritis; and its bark / shavings allegedly make a nice cup of “tea”… (Any evidence of this?)
  • A 1920’s calypso song “LignumVitae” was sensationally saucy for its allusions to the bark tea’s prophylactic quality in addition to exploiting the phallic connotations
  • Gabriel Garcia Márquez incorporates uses for the wood in two of his novels (neither of which I have read. Oh dear. The guilt)
  • Pete Seeger, singer / songwriter, made the neck of his banjo from LV
  • The wood is also connected to mauve tiling, vitamin glue, anti-evil gum and the ‘vigilant emu’ by anagrammatic chance

SCOTCH BONNET FACTS

  • It takes approximately six years for a Scotch bonnet to mature
  • The shells grows 2 – 4 ins long (5 – 10 cm), showing distinct growth stages
  • Scotch bonnets live on sand, usually in fairly shallow water (but see below)
  • The more a Scotch bonnet eats the more elaborate its shell, the glossier its sheen & the brighter its colours (research suggests this doesn’t work for humans)
  • Divers frequently find Scotch bonnets at depths of 50 – 150 feet (15 to 46 m). Specimens have been found in depths up to 308 ft (94 m)
  • Shipwrecks provide a good habitat for this species
  • Crabs are its main predators, crushing the shell to get at the occupant. Since the snails’ main defence mechanism is to withdraw into their shells, they urgently need to evolve a new tactic
  • The empty shell of this sea species is often used by hermit crabs
  • In 1965 the state of North Carolina made the Scotch bonnet its official state shell, in honor of the Scottish settlers who founded the state

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION OF SEA GLASS COLOUR OCCURRENCE

Most common (1 in every 1 – 25 pieces found): clear, Kelly (‘Irish’) green, brown, blue, purple

Less common (1 in every 25 – 100 pieces found): jade, amber, lime green, forest green, ice / soft blue

Uncommon (1 in every 50 – 100 pieces found): other green shades

Very uncommon 1 in every 200 – 1000 pieces found): citron, opaque white, cobalt, cornflower blue and aqua

Extremely rare (1 in every 1000 – 10,000 pieces found): grey, pink, teal, black, yellow, turquoise, red

Rarest of all (1 in every 10,000+ pieces found): orange