Thursday, July 17, 2008

Outing to Tel Aviv beach

Lol, look at those eyes! Hermit crab in a cone shell. Well, umm, nope, after reviewing pics of the proboscis and stinging radula of cone shell mollusc we have come to the stunning realization that this is a live cone shell and we both came very close to being stung though were able to move fingers niftily out of the way of the stinger WHOA!!

remains of a Rhipolema nomadica, side view, one of about a dozen we found washed up. This jellyfish migrates up the Suez from the Red Sea and plagues beaches on the eastern Med.

Tired now, Thursday great day on beach (Tel Aviv) with the boys, Moshe and Avremi aged 12 and 10. Writing now while it's fresh in my mind, will fill in more details later if I think of anything else appropriate to record. Temp: ~30 degrees C, winds light and westerly, humidity, low/moderate

Bird life: sparse by the beach except for town pigeons which scavenged everywhere and a couple of males demonstrated their dominance when they were about by showing off the to females and squabbling over scraps a little. No gulls at all. A few hooded crows on and between tops of high rise buildings, occasionally vocal, some house sparrows, singles, foraging on the rocky areas. Town pigeons think they own Tel Aviv, the tall buildings are an artificial canyon system for them and they made themselves obvious as soon as we rolled into town, showing off their flight speed and such.

Beach life was at first sparse but as we looked along the edge of the waves we found quite a few cockle shells, some light coloured mussels and various simple spiral types. The rocks were more fertile as usual and there we found limpets, barnacles and many tiny periwinkle types, I forget which but very small, mostly dark with ranks of small white spots and pointed spires. We also found quite a few washed up dead jellyfish. Rhopilema nomadica, a species that has come into the Mediterranean from the Indian Sea via the Suez canal. These have become something of a plague on our beaches in June/July especially, and sometimes beaches are closed completely because of invasions. As it was we took shots of a number of stranded individuals and were able to touch them (though NOT on the tentacles)- they look like soft jelly but are hard as rubber. Both boys were stung when in the water, said if felt like a red hot needle, and sting left a red patch a few inches across with a welt in the centre.

Another invader from the Indian ocean was the nicest specimen we found, in effect, a double specimen. Hermit crabs use the old shells of a wide variety of molluscs for their homes. Husband found one living in a cone shell of all things. There is a cone shell native to the Med. but this one was at least twice the size of Conus mediterraneus, we guessed it might be a race of Conus fumigatus from it's beautiful light colouring, originally a native of the Red Sea. Given that cone shells are often quite venomous I asked husband, 'you DID know what kind of shell it was before you picked it up, right?', 'yes , he said, but I was very careful!' Men! Well, there was nothing to fear, apart from reaching out a long elegant claw and trying, unsuccesfully, to nip me a few times. the hermit crab stayed pretty much indoors...

except that it was NOT as I had previously thought, an unusual variant of hermit crab but the original mollusc LOL

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