Give It Some Mussel

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)  Exmouth, Devon. August 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Where The Waves Take Me

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel Mytilus edulis, August 2017, Shanklin Beach, Isle of White, England.

Sitting Pretty

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

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Photograph of  Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)  taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2013.

Two Gapers

Sand Gaper (Mya arenaria)

I have shown the two gaper shells on one post to illustrate how different they are, beginning with the Sand Gaper above.

Sand Gaper (Mya arenaria)

A large and robust bivalve, the shell is oval in shape, the anterior end rounded, the posterior end more pointed.  It has concentric ridges and is off-white, grey or light brown in colour. Shell length 15cm.

The Sand Gaper burrows to a depth of 50cm into mud and sandflats, where it filters organic matter from sea water. It is often found in estuaries, and is widespread and locally common.


Blunt Gaper (Mya truncata)

Blunt Gaper (Mya truncata)

A thick-shelled, robust bivalve, rectangular in shape with a truncate posterior margin. It also has numerous concentric lines and is off-white in colour. Shell length up to 70mm.

It is commonly found in estuaries where it buries itself to a fair depth. Widespread and locally common, especially on the east coast of Britain.


Photographs taken April 2013, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2013.

 

Baltic Tellin

Macoma balthica

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

The shell is a rounded-oval, although the posterior more angled. The colour is variable from pink to purple, yellow and white. Width 25mm.

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

It is found on the lower shore in muddy sand, and also in estuaries. Common and widespread.

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

Baltic Tellin (Macoma balthica)

Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno, Wales. Camera Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2012.

Common Cockle

Cerastoderma edule

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

The shell of the Common Cockle is cream to pale yellow or brownish, and it has 22-28 radiating ribs crossed by prominant concentric ridges which may bare short spines. Length up to 5cm.

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

It is found in muddy, sandy and fine gravel shores, from the middle to lower shore. Utilising a muscular foot, it burrows up to 5cm into the sand, and when covered by water they open their shells and extend a pair of short siphons to filter-feed on zooplankton. It can live up to 10 years, and is fished commercially and prayed upon by wading birds. It is common and widespread.

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule)

Photographs of Common Cockle (Cerastoderma edule), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Peppery Furrow

Scrobicularia plana

Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana)

The shell has numerous fine, concentric rings and grooves. It is dirty white, yellowish or greyish in colour, and is flat, thin and delicate in form. Length 6.5cm.

Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana)

It is found in sheltered, brackish habitats, like estuaries and muddy shores where it burrows up to 20cm, leaving behind a star-shaped tell-tale impression on the surface. It is a deposit-feeder, and when the inhalant siphon is extended it is often eaten by crabs, fish and wading birds, but it is regrown fairly quickly. Common and widespread all around the UK.

Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana)

Photographs of Peppery Furrow (Scrobicularia plana), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Striped Venus Clam

Chamelea gallina

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

The colour of the shell is pale cream or yellowish, usually marked with three prominent radiating brown bands. It is fairly thick and has fine concentric ridges. Length 4cm.

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

It is found buried in the lower shore to sublittoral, and it can live up to 10 years. Common and widespread on all coasts, except the south-east coast of England.

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina)

Photographs of Striped Venus Clam (Chamelea gallina), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Banded Wedge Shell

Donax vittatus

Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus)

This mollusc has a shiny white to yellow, purple or greyish-brown slender wedge-shaped shell. Growth stages show as pale bands. The inner surfaces are tinted white, purple, yellow or orange. Length up to 38mm.

Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus)

Found on the middle to lower shore where it burrows into coarse sand and lives just below the surface. The Banded Wedge Shell is a filter feeder, and when the tide is in it extracts food particles from the water via a syphon. Common and widespread on all British and Irish coasts, but less common further north on Scottish coastlines.

Photographs of Banded Wedge Shell (Donax vittatus), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Necklace Shell

Polinices catenus

Necklace Shell (Polinices catenus)

The Necklace Shell has a  buff to pale yellow shell with a spiral row of brownish marks near its upper edge. Similar to Alder’s Necklace Shell which is smaller and darker. Shell height up to 3cm.

It is found buried in the lower shore, in sheltered to moderately exposed sand. It feeds on small bivalves by drilling a round hole through its shell. Common and widespread along all British coasts.

Photographs of Necklace Shell (Polinices catenus), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Bean Solen

Pharus legumen

Bean Solen (Pharus legumen)

The shell is elongate, thin and brittle. There are numerous fine concentric lines, with a group of fine radiating striae. It is white or light brown, light olive or yellow. The hinge and ligament is positioned about a third of the way along the length of the mollusc. Length up to 130mm.

Bean Solen (Pharus legumen)

It burrows deeply in fine to medium course sands in the lower shore and shallow sublittoral. Found on the south-west coasts of England, Wales and Ireland.

Bean Solen (Pharus legumen)

Photographs of Bean Solen (Pharus legumen), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Common Limpet

Patella vulgata

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

Have you ever wondered what the underside of a limpet looked like? Note the large muscular foot, the relatively small mouth above, and the tentacles either side.

The Common Limpet has an ashen-grey or greenish-blue shell, sometimes with a yellow tint, and with radiating ridges. It is conical with an almost central apex. The shell is often covered in barnacles. The sole of the foot is yellowish or orange-brownish with a green tinge. Shell length 6cm. They are fairly long-lived, up to 15 years.

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

It inhabits the intertidal zone, clinging tightly to rocks along the shore or in rock pools, and with its thick shell it is able to withstand the pounding ocean waves, exposure to drying out, and attacks from birds or fish. It grazes on algae growing on the rocks beneath the water. It is not ‘stuck’ in one position as it may always appear to be, but follows a mucous trail as it feeds and finds it way back. Scarring maybe evident on the substrate where it has ground it down to get the perfect fit. Common and widespread around the British coasts.

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

Photographs of Common Limpet (Patella vulgata), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Common Mussel

Mytilus edulis

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Also called the ‘Blue Mussel’, the shells are dark brown, blue-black, or purple in colour. Shell length up to 10cm.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

It is found middle to lower shore, and attaches itself to rocks via byssus threads. It will also find crevices in the rocks, or attach themselves to manmade structures like piers and harbour walls. They can form large beds up to 6 layers thick and covering many square kilometres. Mussels are filter feeders of plankton, pumping large amounts of water through their bodies to extract the food.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Very common and widespread all around the British coast.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

This is an edible marine mussel which has been harvested by humans for centuries. They are a rich source of protein, and are very important to the marine life ecosystem.

Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis)

Photographs of Common Mussel (Mytilus edulis), taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Common Periwinkle

Littorina littorea

Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea)

Also called the ‘Edible Periwinkle’, the shell is variable in colour, from black and grey to brown, white or red, and usually patterned with spiral dark lines. It is conical in shape with a pointed apex. This is the largest British periwinkle, but is usually smaller than 50mm.

Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea)

It favours rocky shores upper to lower zones with a good covering of seaweed. It can also be found in mud-flats or esturaries. The Common Periwinkle is a herbivore which grazes on seaweeds. Widespread and abundant throughout.

Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea)

Photographs of Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea) taken June 2012 (top 2 photos) and April 2014 (bottom photo), Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2012 and 2014. Cameras used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38 and Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

American Slipper Limpet

Crepidula fornicata

American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata)

This limpet has a humped, smooth shell with variegation in colour, usually pinkish, orangey, cream or purplish. It has a fairly thick shell with a shelf on the underside, which resembles a slipper. Shell length 5cm. Shell height 2.5cm.

American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata)

It is found on the lower shore, attached to rocks and other shells, and they form stacks of up to ten individuals or more. They begin life as males, and then change progressively to become females. An introduced species from north-east America in 1887, the Slipper Limpet is quite an invasive species which competes with native oysters for space and food, and is also a threat to Common Mussel beds. Common and widespread.

Photographs of American Slipper Limpet (Crepidula fornicata), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Variegated Scallop

Chlamys varia

Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia)

The Variegated Scallop has rather an elongated, flattened shell, which come in a variation of colours from orange to purple, yellow and greys, which can often be mixed. The ribs of the shell bear spines. Shell length 6cm.

Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia)

It inhabits the lower shore, on rocks and seaweed holdfasts attached by a byssus. It feeds by filtering organic matter from the sea water. It is a sequential hermaphrodite, maturing as a male and then changing its sex several times during its life. It is common and widespread.

Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia)

Photographs of Variegated Scallop (Chlamys varia), taken August 2012, Bournemouth, Dorset, . © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Purple Topshell

Gibbula umbilicalis

Also called the ‘Flat Topshell’, the shell is dull green, cream or grey with broad red-purple diagonal stripes. It is a relatively small flattened  topshell with a large round umbilicus (a deep hole on the underside of the shell). Shell length 1.6mm.

Seen on the uppershore in rockpools and on open rocks. This gastropod feeds on microscopic algae, which it grazes from rock surfaces using a brush-like radula on the tongue. Found on the western shores of the UK.

Photographs taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales, and August 2015, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.

Common Oyster

Ostrea edulis

Also called the ‘Flat Oyster’ or the ‘Native Oyster’, it has a thick, rough textured grey-brown shell. It has a deeply cupped left valve, and a smaller flat right valve. Shell diameter 10cm.

The Common Oyster is the only native oyster, and is an important source of food for humans and other animals and birds. It also produces pearls. It forms beds around the low-water mark of estuaries and open shores, found attached to rocks or other shells. Widely distributed around the British coasts, but less so on the east and north-east coasts. Its population has suffered a sharp decline due to over fishing, pollution and disease.

Photographs taken June 2012, Llandudno Wales and August 2012, Bournemouth.

Flat Periwinkle

Littorina obtusata

The colour of the shell of this small snail varies depending on its habitat, and it can be green, orange, yellow, brown or black. There are also banded and chequered patterned forms. The head tentacles of the animal have two lines along them. The shell is finely reticulate. Shell height up to 1.5cm.

Found on the middle to lower shower on large brown seaweeds such as Egg Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) and Toothed Wrack (Fucus serratus) on which it feeds. Common on widespread throughout.

Photographs taken August 2015, rockpool, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon.

Pod Razor Shell

Ensis siliqua

Also called the ‘Common Razor Shell’, the shell is dull white with a yellowish tinted pink or purple colour. It is a large species, long and narrow, and the largest European species of razor shell. Length up to 20mm.

It is found on the lower shore buried in a deep vertical burrow from where it filter-feeds organic detritus via a pair of short siphons. It can live up to 20 years. Common and widespread.

Photographs taken August 2011, Saundersfoot, Wales, and August 2012, Bournemouth.