Shells from Bimini, Bahamas

Here are some of the shells we found in Bimini in October, 2004.

The photos were taken with a Nikon D100 digital camera with zoom lens as the animals moved about in a small aquarium. Many of the shells were returned to the water after posing!

Some of these files are rather large, so have patience!
 
Niveria pacei

This is a local, dark form of Niveria pediculus, the "Coffee Bean Trivia", which is found only in Bimini. It was recently named for Bob Pace, a Florida collector.

 
Niveria pacei

Here you can see the animal's foot as it trails behind the shell. The part of the animal that covers the shell is the mantle, the organ that makes the shell. Trivias can raise their mantle to completely cover the shell, making it look very different than the shell alone.

 
Tegula fasciata

A very common shell in Florida and the Caribbean, found under rocks near reefs during the daytime. Color can be brown, red or orange, or have pink stripes.

 
Tegula gruneri

Very similar to Tegula fasciata, this shell is smaller, shinier, and has a double fold in the umbilicus. It is usually red but can be orange or black.

 
Tegula gruneri

Another view of this lovely little shell.

 
Astraea tecta americana, "American Star Shell"

A very common species on rocks near reef areas, this shell often collects algae which serves to camouflage it. Note the eye at the base of the eyestalk.

 
Astraea tecta americana, "American Star Shell"

Here the animal is about to right itself after being turned upside down. You can see the foot as it prepares to reach out and clamp onto the rock.

 
"Bahama Star"

This sea star can grow to about a foot across. This is a young, small one. You can see the orange "tube feet" on the underside. These organs use water to make a suction which allows them to move across a surface or bring food to the mouth, located in the center of the animal.

 
Cymatium nicobaricum, "Gold-mouth Triton"

Every species of the triton family has a different color pattern of spots on its body. You can see the operculum of this animal at the top of the foot.

 
Cymatium nicobaricum, "Gold-mouth Triton"

This animal had buried in the sand on the beach to wait out the low tide and was just emerging when I walked by it. They are often found under small, flat rocks in mangrove areas as well.

 
Cittarium pica, "West Indian Top Shell"

(I call this a "Magpie Shell"!) The animal has just turned over and is preparing to travel. You can just see the operculum under the shell.

 
Cittarium pica, "West Indian Top Shell"

Since these animals live in the heavy surge and splash zone of intertidal rocks, they are able to clamp tightly to the rock and seldom move the shell very high - so you don't see much of the animal unless it's turning over. Here you can see the eye stalks and proboscus.

 
Cittarium pica, "West Indian Top Shell"

If you look closely at this closeup ofthe animal, you can see tentacles radiating from the mantle at the edge of the shell. These tentacles are all around the edge of the shell.

 
Columbella mercatoria, "Dove Shell"

There are lots of these shells under rocks near the reefs of the Caribbean. They can be black-and-white, red, yellow, or orange.

 
Columbella mercatoria, "Dove Shell"

Look for the eye about 3/4 of the way down the eye stalk.

 
Cyphoma gibbosum, "Flamingo Tongue"

This is one of the two shells most divers can see (the next shell is the other). That's because its' bright orange, spotted mantle, which can cover the shell, stands out against the sea fans (usually purple - here yellow) where it is found.

 
Lima scabra tenera, "Flame Scallop" or "File Scallop"

This uninteresting shell houses a spectacular animal of flame red. Inhabiting holes in the coral reef, divers looking closely can see it easily. The mantle (the organ that makes the shell) forms two flaps hanging down from the shell and protecting the other organs. Shortly after this picture was taken the animal "swam" away by clapping the shells together and jetting backward.

 
Lima scabra tenera, "Flame Scallop" or "File Scallop"

Unhappy when not attached to some comforting hard surface, the "scallop" moved to the edge of the aquarium and prepared to hang on. The yellow tubelike appendage is the foot, which can spin sticky thread called a "byssus" which will hold it fast to the rock.

 
Lima scabra tenera, "Flame Scallop" or "File Scallop"

Settled at last, the animal pulled itself up a little from the bottom of the aquarium and opened its shell, preparing to feed on plankton.

 
Strombus raninus, "Hawk Wing Conch"

Preparing to turn itself upright, the conch peeks out from the shell. The pointed operculum will be used like a vaulter's pole to push at the bottom and heave the shell over. The edge of the mantle can be seen beside the shiny interior of the shell.

 
Strombus raninus, "Hawk Wing Conch"

Now that it is upright, the animal begins to explore its new environment. The "bullseye" eyes characteristic of all Strombus are at the end of the eyestalk and a sensitive feeler depends from it as well.

 
Strombus gigas, "Queen Conch" (juvenile)

In this closeup you can see the eyestalks, feelers and proboscus of the animal. Since this is a juvenile, we returned it to the water after the photography session.