November 2009 - January 2010
October 2007
February 18, 2007
March 2008


Photo Journal February through April 2010

Jo O'Keefe Copyright 2010. Photos may be used for educational purposes only. Contact me with inquiries.

Life is intresting. Much of my time has been spent gathering shells for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Below I will post photos of some mollusks with which I have worked recently.

In the process, I re-worked my shell photo webpages. Since the end of June 2008 I have been documenting The Shells of Sunset Beach with the assistance of skilled malacologist Dr. Harry Lee. We have listed 198 species all found at precisely the same spot on the eastern point of the 3-mile long island. While doing that, wanting to compare my finds to those of nearby North Myrtle Beach -- which includes Cherry Grove Beach -- I learned about the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. It had specimens from SC but not from Sunset Beach mere miles away.

Early in February a friend and I went to Cherry Grove Beach, SC, just across the state line. We discovered many Lettered Olives, Oliva sayana, all pale in comparison to the beautiful ones we find in North Carolina. My friend learned to dig. I have returned to Cherry Grove many times because it is peaceful to sit on a throw rug and dig with a gardening tool. We have found more than 200 Lettered Olives on each of several visits without digging more than a foot.

On Cherry Grove Beach I saw fossils that are from a Cretaceous bed or outcrop called Hurl Rocks off the north end of Myrtle Beach. Material from that bed is disturbed during dredging for beach renourishment, resulting in scattered fossils on the beach.

Some microshells I found in sea drift are very similar to a shell found in Ghost Shrimp holes in the Charleston area. I ordered a yabbie pump to be able to search for that shell and other specimens in ghost shrimp holes. For two weeks strangers and I have been playing with it, mastering its use and learning to sieve and inspect the material that it brings up. Several days ago we found a ghost shrimp and three mantis shrimp. Below is a photo of the sole worthwhile shell I found using the pump, a Lepton lepidum. I find scores of them live in sea drift.

A few days ago I went to the far end of Myrtle Beach to check out its beaches. Both the extreme southern end and 21st Street disappointed me. No self-respecting invertebrate would show its face in such an environment. Next I stopped at 78th Avenue North where there were many fossils from beach renourishment.

Finally I met Captain Michael Rutenberg, operator of Coastal Eco-Charters. Take a trip with him to see some of the animals I find. Captain Michael is a biologist with a passion for marine life who knows the backsides of our barrier islands with treasure troves of natural wonders unseen by most visitors. Details are at http://coastalecocharters.com. Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters also are offered.

Clearnose Skate, Raja Eglanteria, Sunset Beach, NC, 04/28/10
Beautiful colors -- Sunset Beach, NC, 04/27/10
Beaded Sea Star, Astropecten Articulatus, Sunset Beach, NC, 04/26/10

Thousands of live Coquina clams in an indention in the sand, Myrtle Beach, SC, 04/11/10. Species are Donax variabilis and Donax parvulus.

Callichiurus major
Callichiurus major
Ghost Shrimp, female, Callichiurus major, Sunset Beach, NC, 04/10/10
Mantis Shrimp
Mantis Shrimp
Mantis Shrimp
Mantis Shrimp
Mantis Shrimp found in Ghost Shrimp Holes, Sunset Beach, NC, 04/10/10
Graceful Lepton, Lepton lepidum, live, 1/4-inch wide, sucked up using a yabbie pump. Sunset Beach, NC, 04/02/10. While using a yabbie pump might be a good way to find shrimp to use for bait, it is not a good way to find microshells.
Albunea paretii
Albunea paretii
This is one type of mole crab, Albunea paretii. Again, I thank to Gayle Plaia of NCSU for her skill in identifying the strange animals that I find. Sunset Beach, NC, 04/01/10
Left or upper valve of the Late Cretaceous oyster Exogyra costa, Say, an extinct oyster of the family Gryphaeidae. According to malacologist Dr. Harry Lee, to whom I am always grateful, this lineage died out with the non-avian dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. Cherry Grove Beach, SC, March 2010
Scan of right valve of an Exogyra. This valve attached to the substrate to anchor the oyster in place throughout its lifetime. Malacologist Dr. Harry Lee provided this information. March 2010

I will add other photos later. Below are photos of the shells with which I am working.

Strombus alatus
Anatina anatina
Florida Fighting Conch, Strombus alatus, found digging on Cherry Grove Beach, SC, February 2010.
Smooth Duckclam, Anatina anatina, Sunset Beach, NC, February 2010. These are similar to Channeled Duckclams but lack high ridges. I have found three recently, but none in the previous 15 years.
Calyptraea centralis
Melampus bidentatus
Chinese Circular Hat, Calyptraea centralis, one of my favorite microshells, under 1/4 inch wide
Eastern Melampus, Melampus bidentatus, a 2-mm tall gastropod with pulmonary function
Chione elevata
Nassarius albus
Cross-barred_Venus, Chione elevata, Ocean Isle Beach, NC, March 2010. Amazingly, Ocean Isle Beach, to which I go only once or twice per year, has very different shells including many large specimens of this species. The few on Sunset Beach are small.
White Nassa, Nassarius albus, juvenile, not fully developed, about 1/8 inch wide
Triodopsis hopetonensis
Triodopsis hopetonensis
Land Snails, Triodopsis hopetonensis, found in sea drift, Sunset Beach, NC, November 2009 and February 2010
Cancellaria reticulata
Plicatula gibbosa
Common Nutmeg, Cancellaria reticulata, Cherry Grove Beach, SC, 02/10
Atlantic Kittenpaw, Plicatula gibbosa, Cherry Grove Beach, SC, 03/10
It is worth reporting here that both of the above species easily are found on Cherry Grove Beach, SC, while walking and digging, yet I have only found one or two specimens of each on Sunset Beach, NC, in 15 years. The precise spots on which I shell on the two islands are 8.6 miles apart as a bird flies.
Diacavolinia deblainvillea
Cavolinia longirostris
Longsnout Cavoline, Diacavolinia deblainvillea. This is a Pteropod, a member of the plankton community. It moves by flapping the portion of its mantle that protrudes on each side like wings. Bats, with which my daughter Joy O'Keefe works, are in the order Chiroptera --hand wing.
Noetia limuli
Noetia limuli
Noetia limuli
Noetia limuli
Noetia limuli included in one of my shipments and extinct for one to two million years, were brought to my attention by Dr. Paul Valentich-Scott, Curator at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Because I sent seven to Paul and found eight more in my garage, apparently it is every day that you can find extinct shells this old on Sunset Beach. January - February, 2010.