Journal archives for December 2016

December 11, 2016

Peaceful beach... or is it all death and carnage?

When we look at a gorgeous beach strewn with beautiful sea shells, like West Gulf Drive on Sanibel Island, on the Gulf of Mexico, it is a soothing sight of great beauty to us humans. It seems peaceful and lovely, clean and fresh.

However... all those lovely mollusk shells are telling a different story if you look a little more closely, and think a little more deeply.

Every empty mollusk shell represents a death. Here are untold millions of deaths. Vast infant mortality. Countless juveniles that never made it to adulthood. Countless young adults that never had the chance to live a long life.

Yes, a few of these external skeletons represent snails or clams that made it to adulthood, reproduced, and presumably died peacefully of old age in their sandy bed.

But SO MANY of the snails and clams died what we would consider to be horrible deaths at the "hands" of predators.

So many clams were drilled by moon snails or murex predators! So many clams were crunched into pieces by sting rays!

So many gastropods, seemingly secure in their strong shells with apertures guarded by a strong operculum, had their castle systematically ripped open by a box crab or torn to pieces by who knows what skillful and ruthless predator!

Of course I am not trying to suggest that the clam or snail suffered agonies of anxiety as the end approached and it felt its defenses being breached for the final time.

And it is true that many gastropods shells show successful repairs after predation attempts that did not prove fatal.

It's not all death and destruction.

Or is it?

Posted on December 11, 2016 01:43 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 4 observations | 6 comments | Leave a comment