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  • José H. Leal

The Eclectic Food Habits of Lettered Olives



The Eclectic Food Habits of Lettered Olives

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a great picture is worth much more than that. Consider, for instance, this photo of Lettered Olives, Americoliva sayana (Ravenel, 1834) feeding on the remains of a Speckled Swimming Crab, Arenaeus cribrarius (Lamarck, 1818). The photo was taken at low tide on Marco Island, Florida, by Museum friend (and Shell Ambassador) Amy Tripp. It reminds me of a “clean-up crew” of vultures around roadkill, or hyenas feasting on an antelope carcass. Lettered Olives have assorted food habits: they can be predators, feeding on mollusks and worms, among other invertebrates. But on occasion they may also be scavengers, as shown in Amy's great photo, which leaves no room for doubt as to what is happening. Wouldn't you agree? Read more about local mollusks and their shells in our Southwest Florida Shell Guide.