16 – Mollusks

Do you have an idea for a future beach walk? After reading, I invite you to see the Topics List page to see what’s ahead. Use the Submit Topic Ideas page to send me your ideas.

Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like walking on the beach. It is good for the body, mind, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

The sands display a myriad of shells. Different shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Although they now lay idle on the sand, each was once a home for something alive – a clam, oyster, scallop, whelk, or other Molluscan relatives. Home for a comparatively simple life – a life born to eat so it grows, survives, reproduces, and then dies. A life aiming at perpetuating the species so that species can continue to fulfill its niche in nature.

Photo by u0e04u0e20u0e54u0433u0454u0454u0e04 u0e23u0e40u0e53u0e40u0e4fu0e20 on Pexels.com

A life with a collection point of nerves serving as its neurological center – but not a center of emotions, intellect, problem-solving, and complex communication. Just a very simple brain – one geared for operating body functions, movements, sensing, and responding. Sensing the presence of food or predators, the current’s direction, the water’s temperature, and more. Sensing to cause a reaction.

The numerous shells I see tell only a fraction of the story of what life in the water must be. All those shells contained a life – a life starting as a simple cell floating free in the water. A life that developed into a free-swimming larva or served as food for something else. A life that continued to develop into a young shelled organism or food for other organisms. A life finally developing into an adult that can reproduce, yet also be a food source for other life.

No wonder adults release so many eggs – besides, not all will get fertilized. Not all will survive the free-floating stage or as free-swimming larvae. Not all will develop into reproductive adults. Not all will live a full adult life.

Most of the shells on the beach are from bivalves – those mollusks with two shells. The lucky shellers will find a univalve shell.

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

The bivalves use a siphon to draw in water to indiscriminately filter out food – plankton, algae, bits of seaweed, decomposed particles, and other particles suspended in the water. Yum. They aren’t picky eaters.

Because they prefer feeding during the high tide that replenishes their food supply, ever hear the phrase being happy as a clam at high tide?

I switch gears to think of them as our food – clams, oysters, scallops, and mussels – as stews and chowders – or steamed, grilled, broiled, or fried. To some, simply raw oysters – down the hatch!

With no arms or face, bivalves use a simple muscular foot to bury themselves for protection. I haven’t seen them here, but on other beaches I’ve seen small clams burying themselves as each wave recedes. Ever hear of people digging for clams?

Another means of protection is a strong muscle to keep the shells closed together. Ever hear clam up? However, starfish can pry them apart. So can a seagull with its beak. Even shell-less mollusks as octopi and squids can get the shells apart to eat their cousins.

Photo by W W on Pexels.com

Oysters are also famous for pearls – but most of the two-shelled mollusks can make a pearl – but not as luxurious. The pearl, the precious gem from the sea, made the same way as making the shell – but caused by a small irritant as a grain of sand. An irritant that can become a smooth, layered, perfectly round, glistening gift of love to someone precious.

That’s the life of a mollusk – a clam, oyster, scallop, quahog, whelk, conch, and others. Compared to ours, a simple life, but an ecologically important one. Each fulfilling a niche in the intricate web of life on our planet.

This is what I ponder as I see the shells on the beaches that I walk. After all, I like walking on the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

See what other bloggers have posted about mollusks

Next walk: Roars – Thursday 3rd December @ 1 AM (Eastern US)

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105 thoughts on “16 – Mollusks”

  1. I’m an inveterate shell-hunter on the beach. Who knows why? I rarely do anything with them, though I do still have the fine specimens I found on a beach near Pondicherry. Eating the contents though? No, that’s not for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Who knew there were so many commonly known sayings regarding mollusks? And this is the future post you were telling me about when I suggested you could have mentioned pearls in your sand post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joanne,
      I recall that conversation we had about pearls. You remembering made me smile! To me, there’s a lot to say about those that live in the shells that beach walkers see. Then again, that’s also the biology teacher in me coming out.

      PS: Thanks for the wonderful topic suggestion. Besides the list one can see here, I have another list of just ideas – so consider lighthouses added to the list. 🙂 BTW – Besides the test submission I requested from a blogger, you are the first to submit an idea! 🙂

      Like

    1. Marina,
      Knowing you enjoy the sea, I’m not surprised you have many shells. Although the shells are what we notice on the beach, the biology teacher in me what to bring attention to what goes us that shell. Happy December to you … and I know I’ll be visiting your December post. Yamas!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I usually become so entranced with the beauty of the shells that I forget they were home to creatures of the sea. I am a big seafood fan….oysters and clams in particular – and like many other things that we humans eat, I sometimes take for granted that they had LIVES before they made their way to my plate! I was going to suggest adding “Sea Smells” to your topic list but I see SMELL is already there. I love the smell of the ocean…… Thanks for all the information about sea life.

    Pam

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pam,
      Your opening sentence is what sparked this walk. Yes, the shells get our attention but we forget how they came to be and why. But that’s the biology teacher in me. Thanks for sharing your joy with eating seafood. I find it interesting that clams, oysters, and scallops seem so different to me.

      Yes – Smell is on the topic list, but from a senses perspective. (Because the topics list is alphabetical, each of the senses get a walk.) I’ll have to go back to read it because I can’t recall how much I wrote about just the smells of the beach. Surely, I included some of them – plus I know I’ve fused them into other walks. If you would please do me a favor, and go ahead and submit the idea. That way I’ll remember to add it to the “Ideas” list I keep offline. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love to collect the sea shells, sometimes I paint them, but mostly they are in a glass vase/bottle with blue liqud … I love the blue effection… This is wonderful post, I haven’t known much about them. Thank you, I should add this too, photographs, music they are all so beaıtiful too. Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nia,
      Not only am I not surprised you love seashells and collect them, painting shells is another thing that artistic people like yourself do. Cheers to the joys they give you. Glad you enjoyed the photos and the music. I took selecting the closing video very seriously, so knowing you watched it made me smile. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. another note, maybe it would be metaphoric, have you noticed, you are not walking alone on the beach, we are all coming with you too… This is so beautiful. Thank you dear Frank, Love, nia

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I also like the sounds of the beach – the waves, the seagulls, and children’s voices. Mornings and evenings are perfect, especially to see sunrises and sunsets!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My favorite part of the ocean is listening to the waves as they drift back and forth across the sandy beach. Thanks for the lesson about some of the smaller creatures that inhabit the ocean. I will never eat a clam, but I do like scallops and shrimp. I have collected shells off and on in my life. I have very few right now. I often give shells to friends and especially children. Nice post Frank.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Peggy,
      Listening and watching the waves is so relaxing … actually mesmerizing. 🙂 Interesting how clams, scallops, and oysters are biological cousins, yet taste so different. To me, scallops (as a dish) seem more elegant. Oh well … personal preferences and taste. AH ha … you were a sheller at one time. I wonder how many of have brought shells home that ended up in a drawer or a trash can. I like your gift idea!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Have shells (just 5 or 6) I collected with my mother in San Diego when I was a teenager (many decades ago). Hard to get rid of the memories. I call myself an off and on sheller. Ha Never throw shells away – children always love them.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It is amazing when you stop and think about it, all those empty shells contained a life, and probably a brief life at that. It’s also a wonder that in nature so many eggs and babies wind up being food for another species. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Frank. It’s a great mystery surrounding us.

    As for a topic idea — how about the wrack line?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Barbara,
      I know I see many shells where I walk – but there are also many, many miles of beaches throughout the world where shells can come ashore. … and toss in all the empty shells that found on the ocean floor. The number is staggering. But I marvel at the way population biology works – Yes – the mollusks release many eggs – and many don’t survive to adulthood – yet look at all those shells. To me, simply wow!

      Interesting topic for a walk – the wrack line. I must admit that I scratched my head because I didn’t know the term. After looking it us, bingo … a great idea. Believe it or not, I already have a base of notes for that walk. Hmmmmm …. the tumblers in my mind are turning. 🙂 Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Crispina,
      Thanks for the kind words. Topics to think about while walking are endless, Interesting how sometimes my mind can only think so far – getting a stuck feeling – but then suddenly it dives into another level to find the real nuggets of the thought. Thanks for the idea about marine plants. It’s on the list.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I really like how you acknowledge their lives. However, as a Mainer I must admit to being crazy about all kinds of seafood, even though I don’t eat it very often. (Mostly vegetarian, no meat at all.) The shells are beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Laurie,
      The biology in me kicked in, but after the shells because they are the ones that grab our initial attention. But after thinking – oh my – they are alive – part of our global ecosystem. They have much have a biological role to play. They are like all other life forms that are born, grow, survive, reproduce, and die.

      OK, because you are a Mainer, I must ask. To you, as a vegetarian, are fish, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, scallops, etc – acceptable to eat or not? I ask because I know one size does not fit all.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I remember those little clams or whatever they were disappearing into the sand after being exposed by the receding waves or digging hands. We just had mussels last night, but I don’t care for raw oysters or clams. I do love New England clam chowder or some oyster stew, though. 🙂

    janet

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Janet,
      As I walk I frequently think about those little diggers that you mention – but only from memory on other beaches because I don’t see them where we go now. They are interesting, entertaining, and full of wonder. When one thinks about mollusks, they provide a lot of good eats for us! Cheers to your joy for clam chowder. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Meezer,
      I like the way you look at all the different species of mollusks as “a testament to the glories of nature that are waiting for us to admire and wonder in awe about them all.” I’m right with you on that one … and the same for the fish, crustaceans, birds, mammals, and more … plus the plants and microbes … oh may … glorious indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love our walks together as a community. You have us all with you on the beach – what a wonderful gathering. As I read your post, I thought of the words of Rachel Carson: “To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rebecca,
      I can’t say enough good things about the people community that is gathering here on the beach. People from all over the world on the same people. Simply wonderful! Meanwhile, and speaking of wonderful, thanks for the Rachel Carson quote. It is so good, I added emphasis with hopes others would read it. Thank you, thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Katie,
      Welcome first-time beach walker … that means first-time here. 😉 Thanks for the kind words about this walk. No matter where we are, there are many things to notice and to think about, which is what I try to do here. What an interesting blog the two of you have. Love your story. Hope you return to another walk here. How did you find my little corner of the world?

      Like

  11. Interesting post, Frank.
    I like that these creatures make pearls. That is a sort of magic to me.
    Eating them….. well, to each their own. You couldn’t pay me to eat those sweet little Mollusks.
    Actually, the whole food chain reality freaks me out. I’ve been through some crazy times because of that.
    Although, I am very appreciative for grapes so that we can have wine, I can’t eat grapes.
    Another fab video here, to go with your reflections theme today.
    Checked out your topics. I want to submit one, but it has to be sideways from the obvious, but still intrinsically count. Working on it!
    Clink!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Resa,
      Thanks for the variety of comments. I wanted this walk to focus on the life that was inside the shells that we see. After all, beach walkers focus on the shells. Not sure I’ve ever met anyone freaked out about the food chain. Congratulations on being the first. 😉 I remember two topics you gave me in a past life … fingers/hands and texture. And they are on my ideas list. … and so is wine! Clink!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CLINK!
        Yeah… the food chain freaks me out. Why does one have to die so the other might live? It seems unfair, although fairness is not a given in life.
        In younger days, I got down to 90 lbs. afraid to eat anything. I know it sounds awful, but I decided the plant kingdom would be my food.
        CLINK
        Still thinking about a topic that will blow your mind!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. At reading your post, Frank, I feel like I was with you walking on the beach and looking for molluscs .
    If there was some rocks on the beach we would find also mussels.
    You ask some topics :
    – the plants at the seaside on the dunes such Ammophila arenaria in latin (marram grass in English)
    – the cliffs by the beach with fossiles and various layings of rocks/
    In friendship
    Michel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michel,
      Wow … thanks for the high praise. This also means that I have the right tone on these walks – well, at least this one. The land near the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico is relatively flat … and flat for many miles = although I’ve been to beaches in Europe that have cliffs at the beach and mountains nearby. I know I have some notes about mountains that I will transform into a beach walk. You are also the second person mentioning plants. Thank you.

      Like

      1. The nature speaks to us and on the beach it is more powerful with the sound of the ocean , diferent if you are near or further on the beach or again located behind a dune where the music of the sea is mixed with the blow of the wind . This is also a topic : the voice , the sound at the beach.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Home for a comparatively simple life… A life aiming at perpetuating the species so that species can continue to fulfill its niche in nature – I love this acknowledgement of tiny life contained in these infinite number of shells and forms. The ocean itself is incredibly enormous of a different world and the beach offers this tiny glimpse of these creatures depending on it for survival. There is so much more of what I don’t know than I do know I feel. Collecting rocks and shells is still my favorite 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PD,
      Life is quite intricate – and probably even more so than those of us who acknowledge it think. The complexity of the world boggles my mind. Thanks for sharing your favorite line – yep – also one that I enjoy very much.

      Cheers to your love for collecting rocks and shells. Although I’ve already done a walk on seashells, I do have a draft featuring stones!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I have a nice small collection of shells – a couple I claim when they were still occupied (I would not do that now).

    I used to love steamed clams and clam chowder, then I got greedy and ate too many. My body rebelled and now I can’t eat any bivalve at risk of serious upheaval (you know what I mean). Sigh.

    I enjoyed your thoughts on mollusks today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eilene,
      Thanks for sharing a few of your personal stories. Speaking of occupied – I think last year. While we were walking on the beach, we talked to another walker who was carrying a shell about the size of a softball. Yes – two shells together. She asked me about it, and I notice the clam inside, which startled her – so I tossed it back into the water. In terms of your food overdose, oh boy …. that like going from the penthouse to the basement.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oooo, a giant clam. How cool. I’ve seen one or two while snorkeling. Yes about the food allergy.

        Another fun mollusk story is the tome I was snorkeling in BVI and saw what seemed like a migrating herd of conchs: hundreds of them in shallow water, all pointed the same direction. Wild!!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. You are sharing so much about the beach life. I’ve learned a bit about shells by pausing here. We have a couple of jars of shells in our house from our forays on Fort Myers Beach. They bring back such fond memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You have reminded me that, normally, at this time is when I have my oyster fest supper with my friends. Sigh. Maybe next year.
    And despite having eaten supper, now I have an urge to make seafood pasta or bouillabaisse or oooohhh. Never mind those. How about a Cioppino?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well… I just might have to do something. You know what my “fast food” is? Mussels! I usually get a double pack at Costco and make two flavours: Thai and either Marinière (white wine & shallot) or Sausage and mariana or sorry. Getting carried away… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The nature speaks to us and on the beach it is more powerful with the sound of the ocean , diferent if you are near or further on the beach or again located behind a dune where the music of the sea is mixed with the blow of the wind . This is also a topic : the voice , the sound at the beach.

      Liked by 2 people

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