Here’s another week’s worth of under water bonus fun with Sally Streib!
Aunt Ann loved shells. She took me to Laguna Beach many times. We snooped in
the tide pools whenever the tide pulled back, leaving acres of pools open to
chestnut cowrie, a favorite shell that we seldom found, lived tucked up under
ledges where waves swept over them, bringing in fresh water and food. I love cowrie
shells because they look so shiny and feel so smooth in my hand.
I wondered how the cowrie shell kept so shiny, clean, and free from scratches.
Almost every other shell had trouble with barnacles attaching to them and
getting chipped by a crab’s claw, or getting scratched by rocks tumbling over
them. Not the cowrie. They always looked perfect.
That’s when I discovered the mantle. This thin and often very beautiful piece of flesh
comes out of the long slit the cowrie shell has on its bottom side. It wraps
around the shell and hides it from enemies. Cells along the edge of the mantle
produce the shiny covering that makes it prized by collectors. Special cells
also make it grow and repair any scratches it might get from an enemy.
I once saw a huge, red crab take off sideways toward a cowrie. I knew it wanted
to smash the shell and eat the mollusk inside it. Before I could grab the shell
and save it, the crab dashed over with its big tooth-lined craw and grabbed the
shell. I gasped. But before I could blink, that
crab’s claw slipped off. Three times it tried to grab the shell, but the claw
couldn’t get a hold on it because the slick mantle made it slip off.
I thought a lot about coverings after that. I also thought about the covering God
gave me. The Bible calls it the “Robe of Righteousness.” The goodness of Jesus
covers you and me. Satan, the old “red crab,” can’t get a hold of us and crush
us. I like that thought!
More ocean life . . .
All photos by Sally Streib (
Sally@seansee.net ) and Clyde Thomas and
Reggie Thomas (MomentsInNature.org).