Saturday, January 01, 2005

On the Sound: Millions of Empty Shells

The staff of Sphere and our kids went to Greenwich Point Park today, where the benificent leaders of Greenwich allow us unwashed non-Greenwich residents to trod for less than $30 because it's the offseason. The place was mobbed but the air was warm, the sky blue but hazy at the horizon (the Manhattan skyline barely visible), and the temperature, at least on the Sound side where the wind was blocked by the point itself, very comfortable.

I was looking for birds and saw dozens of black ducks and buffleheads, and lesser numbers of hooded mergansers and red-breasted mergansers, a horned grebe, a kingfisher, and the usual feeder-birds in the holly grove.

On a southwest-facing cove there were deep, long piles of empty shells, predmoninantly slipper shells (Crepidula fornicata, amazingly enough), millions of them, peppered with ribbed and blue mussels, quahogs, oysters, and a few others. The numbers of shells were truly awesome, and indicative of a fecundity that those of us on shore can hardly imagine.

Atlantic slipper shells

A question that perhaps any of the two or three people who read this blog can answer: did this mass of empy shells represent the aftermath of a kill, or simply an accumulation of already-dead C. fornicata?


Blogger Rick said...


Actually, there is a normal die-off of Crepidula fornicata in response to cold water. In the absence of any other specifics, it would appear that it was the onset of winter that caused the die-off. Inasmuch as there weren't large numbers of other organisms washed-up dead, I suspect that this die off was natural.


6:26 PM  

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