Undeniably phallic – the thick, non-retractlile, double fused siphons lie exposed to view as this Common Otter Shell Lutraria lutraria (Linnaeus) tries to rebury itself after stranding. If it doesn’t get underground quickly, the birds will eat it. This young specimen was photographed with many other larger and older specimens (like the one below) at low tide on the causeway between Burry Holms and Spaniard Rocks at the north end of Rhossili Bay.
It is unusual to see the living molluscs because they live very deep down in the sediments. Some particular kind of turbulance in the sea must have dredged them up. The empty shells, however, are frequently found on the beach. The shells below were clustered on the causeway but many individual or paired shells were scattered along the entire length of the drift line – some having just been eaten by birds.
……….and this was one of many particularly decorative-looking otter shells with a filling of iridescent sea foam bubbles. [It’s funny how difficult it is to photograph bubbles without capturing your own reflection in every one!]
For more information about otter shells see the additional information pages.
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2012
All Rights Reserved