Re-posting this from my Arabian Asides category, published back in early March. “U” is quite a difficult sea-shore letter to find another interesting subject to photograph and write about!
Shell collecting is my free-time-passion, every weekend some reason is made to feature a beach outing, be it all weekend or an hour or two. My reasons are that it’s healthy to be outside, walking miles along beaches is good for me, recording the collecting is environmentally helpful, especially with all of the off-shore construction in the region, added value now with involvement with environment groups, interest is slowly growing in the work achieved so far.
My interest started with a gift of the book “Seashells of Eastern Arabia“, and has grown. Unique and highly collectable shells abound in the Arabian peninsula, but amidst it all, one little treasure is a constant find. Umbonium vestiarium, a tiny little gastropod, washes up on nearly every beach I walk. So small, so easily missed, I must look akin to an ostrich scavenging on the tide-line.
Varied in design, colour and size these little shells are a design delight. Several varieties of patterns and colorations exist within the species, each matching the genus but so far, not individually named, grouped together under one genus umbrella.
Umbonium vestiarium, common name “the button tops”, is a species of sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Trochidae, the top snails.The solid, rounded shells, are up to 2 cm wide.They can be found on the eulittoral (intertidal) sand all around the Indo-Pacific region.
Areas seem to define the coloration, the molluscs filter feed for detritus and plankton, turning bright red at Al Khaluf, Oman, pale and faded at Rams beach, Ras al Khaimah, more rose pinks at Al Sawadi, sharp and defined on Masirah channel shores.
How to keep my collection? Well, my Umbonium vases are highly treasured.
NB: for environmentally conscious souls, I only collect unoccupied shells from the shoreline.