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!


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 Urchin Delphi Abaco 2


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. 

This SEA URCHIN is smaller, with more prominent nodules and a much more random pattern – reminiscent of a cartoon of some distant white planet. It has cast a fine knobbly shadow.

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.


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 

And here’s another chunk, top and bottom view Photos courtesy of James St. John (Geology, Ohio State University at Newark)
…and here is the worm that makes the vermi-accretion or whatever the term is


This is Part 2 of the ‘Delphi Beachcombing’ feature. The first dealt mainly with gastropods, and now I have got round to some bivalves. All the shells illustrated come from somewhere within half a mile of the Delphi Club beach steps, except for the sunrise tellin. We gave ours to our granddaughter (5) [she likes pink, but also mud] and it has… somehow come apart. 

EGG COCKLES Unlike the vast majority of cockle types which have the familiar radial ribs, egg cockles are smooth and non-ribbed. They are apparently able to jump by flexing what passes for their leg – a feat I would enjoy seeing…

GAUDY ASAPHIS Asaphis Deflorata (formerly ID’d as COQUINA Donax)

TIGER LUCINE Codakia orbicularis (formerly ID’d as ELEGANT DOSINIA Dosinia Elegans)

SCALLOP / PECTEN This is not a ravenelli, as previously suggested by me –  they are deep water molluscs.  It’s hard to be sure exactly what species it is, in such a bleached state.The tiny shell half is surely the basis for the symbol of a petro-chemical giant that I decline to identify further. I thought this one was broken but a check shows that the asymmetry of the hinge is very common. Encrustation by worms, as here, is often found as well, but I wisely draw no parallel with the litigious petrochemical industry…

SUNRISE TELLIN (Tellina Radiata) Tellins are a genus with masses of variants worldwide. This species is common in the Caribbean. It is a really pretty shell, glossy with pink radials. They grow up to 7cms. As hinted above, if you find a complete one, the hinge is delicate. The most interesting fact I have discovered is that “in most countries it is illegal to bring back these shells from holidays” Whoops!