Friday, October 30, 2009

Whelk Eggs

While I was at Assateague Island National Seashore Visitor Center I spotted a small magnifying glass that was focused on some tiny Whelk shells. Next to it was one of those egg cases you often see on the shore. They look like tan quarters strung together and make a sound when you shake them. Now I knew those were the egg cases of Whelks but for some reason I thought the rattle came from each of the disks hitting each other. Well, was ever I wrong, the rattle is from tiny unhatched baby whelk shells inside. I asked the Park Ranger if I could have one of the disks and she tore off one for me. Yes!


This photo from Wikipedia. The other photos I took.

So I brought it home, open it up and poured out the little shells. A lot of them were broken and looked like little shards of glass but a few were still recognizable.


I placed them under my dissecting scope for a better look.


Here is what I found. They are so tiny yet almost perfectly shaped. They are also almost transparent. I just can’t imagine how they could possibly survive in the ocean, yet they do.


Here is what Wikipedia had to say:

“Mating and egg laying occur during the spring and fall migration. Internally fertilized eggs are surrounded by a transparent mass of albumen, a gel-like material, and are laid in protective flat, rounded egg capsules joined to form a paper-like chain of egg cases, commonly called a "Mermaid's Necklace". On average each capsule contains 0-99 eggs, with most strings having 40-160 capsules. After laying their egg cases, female knobbed whelk will bury one end of the egg case into the substrate, thus providing an anchor for the developing fertilized eggs and preventing the string of egg cases from washing ashore where it would dehydrate. Fertilized eggs emerge as juvenile knobbed whelks approximately 4 mm in length.”


See other interesting critters at Camera Critter.

16 comments:

Susan said...

HI there! this is so great because we just had a vacation along the Delmarva Peninsula and were at the Visitor's Centre. I know the pile of seafound things you were looking at! Even better, I also saw the endangered Assateague Squirrel and got a picture of him...wonder if its the same one?
Lovely how blogging connects people and their interests isn't it?

Woodswalker said...

Everywhere you look, Squirrel, you find something so lovely or fascinating it takes my breath away! How beautiful those tiny whelks are!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

SQ: What an interesting post with all that information and photos.

eileeninmd said...

You have an interesting post on the Whelk eggs and I learned something new today. Thanks.

Snap said...

Squirrel, what a wonderful, educational and beautiful post. I learned something new today! YeeHaaw!

Carletta said...

How very fascinating.
They look like glass.
Terrific post!

storyteller at Small Reflections said...

Marvelous post ... fascinating info ... beautiful photographs! Thanks so much for sharing ;-)
Hugs and blessings,

We love Luna said...

ohmigod, it's a kind of critter, it's so different! Thanks for this interesting post!
Happy camera critters and a great Sunday,
purrs and love
Luna - We love Luna

maiaT said...

They are really beautifully colored egg cases. I like their marbled texture.
Thanks for sharing this beautiful post and the interesting piece of information.

Janie said...

Wow, I love the scientific way you examined this and explained it all. Cool!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

That is a pretty color. The information is interesting. Great critter post!

Thanks for visiting mine.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Oh, and thanks for the identification of my critters. The photo with both of them was not good. I don't think that one is a ladybug larva, because I know what they look like.

Marvin said...

I grew up along the Gulf coast and remember occasionally finding whelk egg cases and marveling at the tiny shells inside. Thank you for bringing back some memories.

sweet bay said...

Very interesting! I did not know that there were tiny whelk shells in those pods!

freegal1000 said...

Even though I go to school out in the Midwest, I'm from the DC area and I've been to Assateague before. Love these snaps!

Melissa B. said...

We find these strands on the beach at the OBX all the time. I had no idea they contained whelk eggs. Love your gauzy, almost romantic, snaps!

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