Navigating the Sea of Life
I found a beautifully colored shell on the beach like none I had ever found before. Through the FaceBook messenger app I messaged a friend who is an avid shell collector to identify the shell for me.
Linda, identified the shell as a chiton. Chitons can be found all over the world in cold and warm waters. They live on exposed rocky shores, just like those we were visiting on the Atlantic side of Lynyard Cay.
The shell is made up of eight separate plates which protect the chiton but also give it the ability to flex or curl up in a ball if dislodged from the rock on which it resides. The shell is bordered by a skirt which is called a girdle. The girdle on this chiton shell was still pliable when I found it making me believe that the chiton had not been gone very long. These chiton shells are also known as sea cradles or a Coat of mail snail. Interestingly enough, a Coat of Mail is an historical term identifying a jacket covered with metal rings or plates used as a piece of armor.
I believe this Chiton can be further identified as a Mopalia muscosa because of its gray/brown exterior and turquoise interior. Some are fluorescent and may glow in the dark.
A predator to the chiton is the Oystercatcher. I saw two near where I found the shell.