Shells from Chub Cay, Bahamas

 

An assortment of shells found at Chub Cay in the Bahamas in 2003. Note the "pile of rubble" - Carrier Shell - at the middle right.

 
Mitra barbadensis

These one-inch shells have a beautiful yellow body. From Chub Cay in the Berry Islands of the Bahamas.

 
Terebra dislocata

A very common shell from the middle Atlantic seaboard to the Bahamas - but each area seems to have different color forms. The Bahamian form is yellow to white. From Chub Cay.

 
Cassis flammea, "Flame Helmet"

These small helmet shells are particularly common and beautiful at Chub Cay.

 
Cyphoma gibbosum, "Flamingo Tongue"

Usually on sea fans, like the purple one in the background, these snails can sometimes be found crawling from one fan to another. From Chub Cay.

 
Nerita peloronta, "Bleeding Tooth"

A very common species on rocky shores just above the tide. If you look closely you can distinguish them from similar species that inhabit the same areas by their fuzzy-looking (not sharply delineated) color pattern. From Chub Cay.

 
Plicopurpura patula, "Wide-Mouthed Purple"

You seldom see as much of the animal as this, since this snail holds tightly to the intertidal rocks in the high-energy splash zone facing the open sea. When disturbed, it secretes a milky substance that dyes fingers and gloves purple. From Chub Cay.

 
Phyllonotus pomum, "Apple Murex"

From Chub Cay.

 
Oliva reticularis

Olives burrow in the sand, and their long siphon allows them to breathe without surfacing. Colors vary from pure white to white with yellow, orange or red markings. From Chub Cay.

 
Xenophora conchyliophora, "Caribbean Carrier Shell"

Looking at this shell from above, you see a pile of "rubble". The animal carefully cements shells, pieces of coral, pebbles, and even bottle tops to its own shell for camouflage. From Chub Cay.

 
Xenophora conchyliophora, "Caribbean Carrier Shell"

From the bottom, the shell looks quite different. The operculum is thin and supple.

 
Xenophora conchyliophora, "Caribbean Carrier Shell"

Propped up on a rock, the animal has to stretch to reach the bottom, revealing more of its body than usual.

 
Cypraea zebra, "Measled Cowry"

When the animal crawls about, the "mantle" - a tent-like organ - covers the entire shell, keeping it clean and shiny (would you like to lie on a gritty bed?) It also provides camouflage, since it can look remarkably like a sea urchin! From Chub Cay.

 
Cypraea zebra, "Measled Cowry"

The man who named this shell had a juvenile specimen, which is striped rather than spotted, so he called it a "Zebra Cowry". The common name, "Measled Cowry" is more appropriate. It is very similar to a slightly larger-growing Caribbean species, the "Deer Cowry" (Cypraea cervus), from which it can be distinguished by its slightly more slender shell and the "spots inside spots" on the lower sides of the shell.

 
Strombus raninus, "Hawk-Wing Conch"

This animal doesn't like to be upside down, so it's checking to see if it's safe to turn over.

 
Strombus raninus, "Hawk-Wing Conch"

The sharp end of the operculum is dug into the sand and the animal pushes against it to pull the heavy shell over.

 
Strombus raninus, "Hawk-Wing Conch"

Safe under its shell at last, the animal peeks out with its long eyestalks. One fits through the end of the aperture and the shorter right eyestalk emerges from a special notch (the "stromboid notch", unique to this family) in the edge of the shell.