Sea Life Specimens Under Glass

At Smyrna Dunes Park in New Smyrna Beach there is a display of sea life specimens under glass. At the pavilion by the parking area this case of seashells, sea urchins, sand dollars and sea stars (starfish) can be found near the public bathrooms.

The photos aren’t very good because of glare, but I thought it would be fun to share the variety of sea life here on my blog. Many shells in this collection are very familiar to me, and others I have never found.

I’ve printed the names of most items on the photo below so they can be read easier. At the top to the far left are the olive shells, and on the far right are oysters.

On my travels to beaches at the ocean and along the river I have never found the following: Scotch bonnet, paper fig, nutmeg shell and murex.

This collection is probably meant to represent the entire state and not only what is found near this park. They also have a Paper Nautilus which I’ve never even heard of. (See it in the center below, just beneath the Baby’s Ear.)

Sea life collection under glass
Seashell and sea life Identification

Most often I find arks / clams, shark’s eye (moonsnail), crown conch, horse conch, lightning whelk, pear whelk (I forgot to print it, but they are next to the Paper Fig), slipper shells (above the lightning whelks) and jingle shells. See my gallery slide show below.

I’m less likely to see olives and tulips. I’ve only found pieces of sand dollars, but a nice lady once gave me a whole sand dollar while I was walking the beach. I have never found a starfish or sea urchin.

My Seashell Photos

Shells (and live snails) I’ve photographed on my beach-combing travels. Only empty shells are collected and most gastropods I find are either alive, with the snail inside, or have a hermit crab residing.

I have a round, flat bowl full of my favorite shell finds, so these days I rarely take shells home unless they really stand out as unusual. Recently I picked up two yellow pricklycockles to add to the collection.

  • crown conch
  • tulip shell with barnacles
  • fighting conch
  • Lightning whelks and pear whelks
  • black and silver jingle shells
  • lettered olive shells
  • Beautiful sharks eye moon shell
  • Smaller horse conch seashell found in the mud
  • white baby’s ear shell
  • Slipper shells orange and black

Read More About Smyrna Dunes Park

What a Discovery! A Tiny Sea Star in The Mud

While beach-combing at Three Sisters islands I made a fun discovery. This tiny sea star was just lying in the mud, upside-down. He is so small that I had trouble figuring out which was his top and which was his bottom. He is about the size of my fingernail.

sea star, starfish, five-legged, tiny sea star, Florida nature, sea life
The under part of a tiny sea star.

This is exactly how I found him. He was out of the water and turned over. The sun was hot and as I gently moved him, he seemed to be alive. It could have been my imagination, but as I turned him over I think his legs were curling in. He wasn’t hard and brittle.

sea star, tiny starfish, upside-down, sea life, nature, Florida
Found this tiny sea star just like this – upside down in the sand.

I had to assume he was alive, but needed water. The tide had gone out and left him stranded. All Florida starfish live in sandy shallows and can become stranded when the tide goes out, or if waves from a storm wash them ashore. I don’t like to mess with nature, but I’m sure he would have dried out and died if left upside down in the sun.

tiny sea star, starfish,

After getting these photos I took him over to a pool and set him down. I don’t know much about sea stars (or starfish) and never find them out on our island excursions. But, I did find a lined sea star a few months ago. That was my first. This one was so small I nearly overlooked it.

I hope he lived.

sea star, starfish , tiny sea star, sea life, echinoderm

It might be time for me to do some research into sea stars. According to my Florida’s Living Beaches book (this is an Amazon affiliate link), none of the typical starfish found around Florida are super common in my area. The only ones mentioned are the Lined Sea Star, Nine-armed sea star, and the Thorny Starfish. This one is obviously not 9-armed, and my guess would be it’s a baby Lined starfish. It doesn’t look like the Thorny variety.

Video of a Thorny Starfish, Naples Florida (West Coast)

The man in the video doesn’t say, but this sea star is a Thorny starfish according to my book. They are more commonly found in south Florida and along the Gulf Coast.

This type of starfish feeds on clams and mussels by suctioning the shell open enough to fit its stomach inside to digest the animal.

The Shape of Life website has time lapse videos about starfish and how they hunt and what they eat. View it here at Echinoderms: the Ultimate Animal – For Online Learning

Found a Five-legged Lined Sea Star

As we searched the low tide sandy areas of Three Sisters Islands my son called me over to see this five-legged sea star which I have since learned is called a Lined Sea Star. I’ve never seen a sea star, or starfish, while out on the boat, nor have I found one anyplace else on my Florida seashore travels along the central east coast.

This one was damaged and missing one-half of two legs with another leg broken and ready to detach. What was interesting was the star shapes next to him. The sea star was not moving and when we carefully touched him. I’m pretty sure he was dead, but they do move very slowly, so maybe not. I know next to nothing about them.

According to my Florida’s Living Beaches book (affiliate link to Amazon’s 2nd Edition of this book), the area of Florida where this sea star is usually found is not where I live. I was surprised to see it, and sorry that it seemed to be dead, or at the very least, in distress.

Either he flipped himself around and left these star shapes in the sand, or a predator did it. It’s a mystery. (Lot’s of things eat starfish. Fish, turtles, birds, and marine snails, to name a few.)

I took this photo, then moved him carefully to the deeper pool of water nearby, thinking he may have needed water. We see a lot of birds on this island, so maybe a bird snatched him up from somewhere and he died here. Or maybe he was having trouble moving with two legs partially missing! They can grow their legs back, so there is hope for him I suppose.

A few weeks later I also found a tiny sea star in this same area.

A lined seastar
Lined seastar – a rare sight in this area

This Lined Sea Star (Luidia clathrata) was aproximately 6 inches in size. The legs were very stiff and the color was slightly pinkish. I wish he had been alive, and he could have been, but just seeing a sea star out on the sand was quite an experience for me.

I also found a pretty awesome horse conch that was larger than the usual tiny specimens that the hermits occupy.

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