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  • José H. Leal

Speckled Crab and the Seven Olives

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is an amazing picture worth? A million? Consider, for instance, this terrific photo of seven Lettered Olives, Americoliva sayana (Ravenel, 1834), feeding on the remains of a Speckled Swimming Crab, Arenaeus cribrarius (Lamarck, 1818). The capture leaves no room for doubt as to what was happening: It reminds me of a “clean-up crew” of vultures around roadkill, or hyenas feasting on an antelope carcass. Lettered Olives are known to prey on worms and other mollusks, but on occasion they may also be scavengers, as shown in Amy Tripp's great photo, taken on Kice Island, Florida.


This issue of the “Curator’s Corner” is dedicated to Amy Tripp, a Citizen Scientist from Westport, Massachusetts, and Marco Island, Florida, who, together with husband Bill, scour the shores of Marco and Kice islands (Collier County, Florida) during the winter, studying and photographing the natural history of local mollusks and other organisms. Amy is one of the Museum’s Shell Ambassadors, and has contributed hundreds of images of living mollusks to the Museum's programs and other web resources. This and the next two features in this issue of the “Corner” are commentaries of mine on three of Amy’s many outstanding natural history images!

Lettered Olives feeding on a Speckled Swimming Crab. Photo by Amy Tripp.