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Posted: Jul 25 2009

 Pinna carnea Gmelin, 1791, Amber Pen Shell

On 7/25/2009 I posted the following inquiry on Conch-L:

"Pinna carnea Gmelin, 1791 was reported by Abbott as "rare" in Florida. I have observed this shell in Palm Beach County on Florida's east coast. Has anyone observed this shell living (not beach) anywhere else in Florida?"

Andy Borgia of Key West replied:

"It is common in the Lower Keys I have numerous specimens in the collection. I see numerous specimens live and dead when I snorkel."

Chris Vos offered:

"Not observed, no, but I do have 8 specimens in my collection, 2 of which are of US origin. Seen as they originate from an old Dutch collection from the 1960's, little data is given. On the one label, it just says "Florida, USA", and on the other "Key West, Florida, USA". Might this last one be of interest maybe?"

José Leal, Director of The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, reported:

"I found the species more than once in the late 1980s snorkeling in BIscayne Bay in Miami, in locations close to Mercy Hospital and Dinner Key in Coconut Grove."

Phil Poland also found P. carnea in the Keys:

"In the 1970s and 1980s, P. carnea was found not uncommonly on the Ocean side of the Keys, inshore, wherever there was sufficient depth of loose material to support it. Localities include Boot Key (Marathon), Duck Key and Boca Chica Key. Not in silty bottom, but facing open water in the typical calcareous rubble of that environment."

Vicky Wall:

"I found a few live specimens snorkelling in Key West in 1992, offshore at Little Sambo Reef."

Ammie Powers Jr.:

"I've found many of these on ocean side,Marathon,Florida."

Harry Lee, author of Marine Shells of Northeast Florida 2009, noted:

"We have found it from off northeast Florida in the scallop fishery bycatch (ca. 100 ft. depth) and in 103 feet by diving (Lee, 2009: 21-22; color plate 5). These areas are about 30-35 nautical mi. offshore.

Your records and ours extend the known continental range north of Southeast Florida, Texas and the West Indies. Bermuda. Brazil (Abbott, 1974: 437)."

Mike Gray confirmed P. carnea offshore in Palm Beach County:

"They are common on the reefs of southern Palm Beach County. I'm told they are tasty, but I've never tried one.

The "rare" may be because, live, they are generally well embedded in hard bottom and, dead, they are fragile and unlikely to make it to the sand, thence to the beach, in more than tiny fragments."

Leslie A. Crnkovic added comments on his experience with P. carnea:

" From my experience, it is not found in hypo or hyper saline environments, rather I have always found it in open water rather than closed bays. That would be how I found it in Florida Belize, and Honduras. When found in Texas, which is very infrequent, it washes up from offshore."

Marlo replied:

"I collect almost entirely in estuarine and lagoonal environments between the mainland and barrier islands. The specimens I used for my presentation were all collected or photographed live in lagoonal areas washed daily by tides."

Pinna carnea 8a.jpg
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