Sanibel Island's shores have an abundance of seashells, collectors pick up mostly univalve and bivalve shells. And....just in case you don't know....
Univalves are a single spiral shell. The shape of the spiral varies with each animal. Most of them have a cover referred to as the operculum, that protects the animal when it is partially extended from the shell. Some common types of univalves are conchs, whelks, limpets, topshells, abalone, and cowries.
Bivalves are two-shelled mollusks that have strong muscles to hold their shells together. When those muscles relax, water enters the shell, bringing food and oxygen. The waste material is taken out as the water leaves the shell. Most bivalves live in the sand or mud and move by means of a foot. Some of the more common ones are clams, scallops, mussels, oysters, jingle shells and angel wings.
So, this is where my little kitten paws come into the picture. They are very common bivalve and can be found here in abundance. Its real name is Plicatula Gibbosa, but called Kitten's Paw by most collectors because they obviously resemble a kitten's paw. The shell is very thick and has several high ribs on both valves to help strengthen it. The shell is white with the ribs an orange or brown color or sometimes they are all white. They can be as large as 1 inch, but most I find are smaller. Two strong teeth in the upper valve fit into two holes in the bottom valve, which works as a hinge to hold it together. Kitten's Paws can be found from NC to the Caribbean. They live mostly attached to rocks and other shells.
Even though they seem to be everywhere on the beach, the little shells always get my attention. I find myself picking up a few, every now and then, just because. After looking around at the other shells I have in containers and such, I realize that I've failed to display any kitten's paws. So....I remedied that today. I placed each little kitten paw, one by one, into a glass sugar bowl. Now they have their own special place.