Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Winter Beach: Operculum, Sand Collar & Fossil Turtle Shell
When I was younger the beach was all about sun, heat, baby oil, suntan, bikinis. Summer couldn't come soon enough. Now, though, it's a winter beach that calls to me. Cold and wild, empty except for birds, I love a winter beach, and this week I am thrilled to be staying on my favorite island,
Edisto. The goodies in my post above were things I picked up as I strolled along.
The operculum is basically a trap-door used by all univalves when they pull themselves into their shell for protection. It feels almost like thin wood, and a fresh one looks like it could have been stained and varnished. The one above is large, 4 1/2" long, so it came from a really big shell. I mentioned Horse Conchs, but it could also be from Lightning Whelk, Knobbed Whelk, or Channeled Whelk, all of which are abundant on this island.
The sand collar is the egg case of a Shark Eye. They are made of sand and mucus and encircle the mother shell. As she creates it she embeds her eggs in the sand. As soon as they dry, the collars return to being sand, so if you find one, don't plan on saving it.
More to come!