Friday, February 24, 2017

The Operculum Discovery

Bean "season" as it is known is over in these parts.  So, as we wander the beaches these days, we certainly do not hope to find many of our usual drifters much less new ones.

Despite the lower overall numbers it seems that new beans continue to arrive.

Here are four recent finds.  Two of which we can identify and two which remain unidentified, thus far.

                                    First up, the Asian Water Chestnut.

It has a spectacular shape and is the only bean we've found that actually begins in the water and ends up on land.

                                     This is one of our unidentifieds.

         We are still searching for the ID of this lightweight and porous drifter.

                                        Next up, the Mucuna Holtonii.

     It is similar to the hamburgers we've shown you prior only thinner and wavier.

Our second unidentified.  It is thought to be in the wood rose family but that remains unconfirmed.

Of the 1700 people in Nicole's SeaBean Group we are the third to have found one of these drifters.  One was found in Texas, one in Cocoa and now ours found here in Stuart.

When looking for drifting beans in the wrack line one often comes across other items that are just too curious to ignore.  The other day, Nicole found this mixed in with the seaweed.

                                               Interesting, isn't it?

We brought it home, cleaned it up and went to googling for all sorts of ocean dweller parts.

When none of the search terms revealed anything, we turned to an authority better than google... Nicole's brother.  He came to visit and immediately said, "I know what it is!  It is a conch foot."  What?!

Well, for the most part, he was right.  Although it isn't actually the foot (that is more fleshy) it is the part that rests at the base of the foot.

It is the OPERCULUM.

An operculum is a structure that closes or covers an aperture; a secreted plate that serves to close the aperture of a gastropod mollusk's shell when the animal is retracted.

OPERCULUM.  OPERCULUM.  OPERCULUM.  Isn't that a cool word?

Well, it is a also a cool thing and conchs are not the only mollusks that have them.  They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors.


Guess what Nicole is on the hunt for now?!