Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All creatures great but small - Part II

Although smaller and possibly less exciting than some of the ‘mega’fauna found off the Kenyan coast, the intertidal species we have recently been recording has including some very unique and special species. The elongate giant clam can be found, with a shell up to 35cm long and 6-12 broad radial ribs with strongly developed concentric ridges. Examples of this clam can be found fossilised dotted around the local landscape, some large enough to step inside! Live examples are found embedded in coral or rock during our snorkel surveys, when disturbed by snorkelers they snap shut.
The Giant Clam can be found on shores and on the reefs
A number of shells from different molluscs are also present on our shoreline, for example the Conus ebraeus with its whitish colour and pattern of black squares, it also has a short round spire. Sea Hares are similar to sea slugs, very well camouflaged molluscs with a small internal shell. One species we identified today was the Dolabella auricularia – a large and bulky species, up to 20cm long with a flat, sloping posterior with a green to brown body, covered in papillae, making it appear prickly. Sea hares are unique in their size, they can reach up to 2kg and 60cm and the fact that some can secrete a purple ‘smokescreen’ when disturbed.

Black squares on this shell tell us which family and species it belongs to

It is important to understand and appreciate the variety and diversity of marine species, and their integral role to the health and growth of each small niche habitat. these surveys will help us develop a list of all local species, their habitats and abundance.