All about seashells…

Believe that dreams and wishes do come true. Because they do. Earlier this year, I made a wish, that I can return to the sea to unwind, and collect seashells. As most of you probably known, I’ve always been a child of the sea, and the sea has always been a part of me, and it’s been almost 7 years since I went to the sea, and have my fair share of fun…building sandcastles…collecting seashells and making necklace as well as shell castles out of those seashells after a long session of beach- combing.

I wished so badly that I could go to the beach not just because I missed the beach life, but also because my latest novel revolves around the sea as well. For many years now, going to the beach is just a dream, and now I couldn’t feel more blessed that finally one of my dreams did come true. So, believe that dreams do come true, because they do.

I love seashells. It fascinates me. And to me, seashells are pretty much like human. They are beautiful and and unique in it’s own ways. None of them are truly identical to each other, and yet, they dwells in the same sea. Human are the same. We’re all different, and yet, we dwells the same Earth. The only difference is in some ways… ‘seashells’  are better, as they live in harmony with each other despite of the difference, while us human, often fight with each other because we are different from one another.

It is surprising that considering our inseparable link to the sea, many of us human does not know, or knows very little about the sea…the place that holds so many mysterious marine lifeforms.

How many of us…have not combed through washed up beach debris to find elusive yet beautiful seashells? I’ve always make a point to comb through the beach each time I have the chance to find those seashells, or scientifically known as marine molluscs (a word derived from Latin, which means soft.)

Marine molluscs, or commonly known as seashells are the cast-off hard layer covering the soft bodied sea-snails. Those that had been washed ashore are the ’empty homes’ where the sea snails are already dead and no longer dwelling inside.

Seashells, are spectacular to me because they come in various shapes, colours and appearance. The diversity is endless indeed. Many species defy logic and comprehension and some are so extraordinary that it is hard to believe that they are formed naturally.

After the Arthropods the Molluscs are the most successful of the animal phyla in terms of numbers of species. There are about 110,000 species known to science most of which are marine.

They occupy a vast range of habitats however both aquatic and terrestrial, from the arctic seas to small tropical streams and from valleys to mountainsides 7,000 metres high, there are a few adapted to live in deserts and some are parasitic.

They also exhibit an enormous range in size, from species which are almost microscopic to the largest of all invertebrates the giant squid which can weighs 270 kg and measures up to 12 metres long in the body, with tentacles as much as another 50 metres in length.

Many species are common and many more a beautiful. Most species secrete a shell of some sort, these shells are long lasting and have been collected by human beings for thousands of years, some of these shells, and the pearls which come from oysters, which are also molluscs may be among the earliest forms of money.

Most molluscs are marine. Molluscs are very ancient organisms believed to have evolved from a flatworm like ancestor during the Precambrium about 650 million years ago. Because many species secrete a shell of some sort the fossil record is good.

Different classes of molluscs have been predominant in the past and the Ammonites represent a group of Cephalopods which were extremely abundant for millions of years before they became extinct. There close relatives the Nautiloid cephalopods were also once very successful but are now only represented in the world by one species, Nautilus.

Molluscs, because of their ease of capture, edibility and beauty have long been important to mankind. Molluscs of many sorts are eaten by humans Abilone, Clams, Cockles, Muscles, Octopus, Oysters, Periwinkles, Scallops, Snails, Squid, Whelks, Winkles and many more are all molluscs and all make there contribution to the human diet.

Mankind has been deliberately culturing molluscs as food for a long time and the earliest known records of someone farming molluscs for food come from Rome where one Sergius Orata bred oysters.

Mollusc shells have also had a long history of usage by mankind, many have been used as decorations, or as a substance to carve into cameos and buttons. In North America Tusk shells on the west coast and Cockles on the East supplied the basis of a system of money, in many tropical countries the shells of coweries were until recent times used extensively in trade.

Pearls, which arise in oysters as a result of the oysters attempts to cover up a grain of sand within its mantle, have been and still are much sort after. The ‘mother of pearl’ used to make pearl buttons comes from bivalve shells and so great was the market for it that the Mississippi and Missouri river basins have been seriously over collected and the bivalves are now quite scarce.

In ancient times the city of Tyre was famous for its purple dye, this dye was made from a marine mollusc called Murex sp. while Sepia, a brown pigment used by artists was, perhaps still is, made from the ink of Cuttlefish. Not all the interactions between man and molluscs are to man’s benefit however, slugs and snails are, in some places, serious pests of of crops, and are often a nuisance in people’s gardens. Wooden ships and wharves can be destroyed by burrowing bivalves such as Teredo navalis, known as ship worms, which weaken the timbers until they collapse or fall apart.

I’ve always been irresistibly attracted to seashells. I used to wonder why. But not anymore. It’s simply because while it is a part of nature, it is different from any other creation. And there’s more about seashells to me. Seashells bring sea to my home. It reminds me of the sea. As when I place the seashell on my ear, it’s as if I can hear the soft, gentle waves hitting the sand. This, fascinates me.

Anyway, enough of marine biology. I think I am boring everyone here. Let’s take a breather from science, and next up would be a tale of shell castle…

Cleffairy: Believe that dreams do come true, because they do.


    • Cleffairy says:

      Oh, this I know… lol… I know there’s some species we cannot bring back. Those are actually from inside sea-when you go snorkelling or diving, those cannot touch, not on the beach side wan…

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