During a morning walk at Cardiff State Beach, I noticed tiny specks of purple-violet-blue in the sand close to the waterline. Upon close inspection, I found they’re actually tiny snail shells – and with this information (“purple tiny snail shell”) it was easy to identify them as Janthina janthina, the Common purple snail, Common violet snail, Violet sea-snail*.
Here a close-up of a single one of them. You can see just how tiny it is when you look at the sand. I made this photo with a 35mm prime lens (it allows to focus pretty close) and then cropped a lot – this final image has about 6 megapixels, out of a 36 megapixel original. (and just by the way – ten years ago, six megapixels was all I had, with my first DSLR, a Nikon D70.)
Here’s another photo, showing the tiny shells more in context. You can see that the smallest ones are hardly larger than a couple grains of sand:
According to Wikipedia they can get up to 40mm in size, and actually float in the ocean with a chitin bubble raft. Considering that their normal distribution is in warm and temperate tropical waters, I don’t think we’ll get to see them at that size here in Southern California.
Last not least, a bonus photo. I found this delicate arrangement of a white shell and kelp debris with the few bird prints going across on the otherwise clean and untouched sand interesting. Just as I knelt down to try and make a photo, good Toni did what she does best: photobomb. In this case, she added a nice and whimsical touch to a photo that I would probably have deleted otherwise, anyway – her paw prints. :-)
*) my ever-inquisitive friend Michael Russell asked me what they were before I had identified them, so I entered “purple shell” into Google Translate and chose “Latin” as the target translation. I then told him it was “Concharum purpura” – that was two months ago and I’m still giggling because he fell for it, momentarily. ;-)
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