Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Slipper Shells on Fairfield Beach

A couple of people who came out to Fairfield last night asked me about Atlantic slipper shells, which have been washing up on the beach there in enormous numbers, an unusual occurence, I concluded, since the people who asked had been beach residents and observers or the natural world for a long time. I had no idea why the shells had washed up, although I guessed that it might have something to do with the big storm of a few weekends ago.

I remembered though that we had seen something similar at Greenwich Point Park a couple of winters ago -- millions of Atlantic slipper shells (Crepidula fornicata) mixed in with mussels, oysters and quahogs. Rick D'Amico, who is a marine biologist (he works for the New York State DEC) told me that it was probably a normal die-off associated with cold water.

Atlantic slipper shells

I'd be happy to hear if anyone has an explanation for what's been happening in Fairfield.



Blogger Sam said...

It an alien invasion, Tom!

Just kidding, but periodically we see some really strage things on the waterfront, such as massive invasions of starfish, fish eggs, skates, jellyfish, weird looking kelp, hermit crabs, urchins, razor clams, and way back in the old days, horseshoe crabs. Many times these cannot be linked to a fishkill or disease but simply show up in such numbers that a shift in water temperature and current can throw millions of them up on the shoreline. I certainly hope we're looking at something cyclical and not something more ominous. /sam

12:32 PM  

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