Identify these sea creatures?

Since taking up snorkeling last year, I’ve seen a few things in and out of the water that I’m having trouble identifying. Any ideas? All of these are found in the waters of New England, more specifically the Southern Cape and islands.

  1. On the shore, the sand is littered with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of shells. These are usually white (though maybe sun-bleached) univalves, about an inch long and 3/4 inch wide. They are slightly teardrop shaped, but with a slight curve.There’s not much of a chamber, just a little bit of wall near the smaller end. While in the water they are sometimes stacked one upon the other, sometimes as many as 10 high. I sometimes see them inhabited by hermit crabs, but they don’t seem to be the typical hermit crab shells.

  2. Crabs–they are around the size of blue crabs, but their shells look like fuzzy black rocks. They have long slender black legs, making them look a little like tarantulas. (Or really large daddy long legs.) Their claws are pretty small, and they don’t use them to threaten intruders like a blue crab might.

  3. Something that looks like a bag of crap. They look like either bags or long sausage casings resting on the sea floor. (Shallow water.) They are a translucent dark reddish brown. They look like they’d disintegrate on contact.

  4. What might be sand, piled up into what looks like a pile of string. Around an inch or two tall, slightly wider. Almost looks like a small sea critter took one mighty dump, all in one place.


Sounds like slipper shells

Indeed, they do. Thanks!

Sounds like a sea cucumber to me.

I googled on sea cucumbers and the pictures looked like nothing I saw. Unless the things molt. It very definitely looked hollow and very flimsy, almost like wet tissue paper. And more flora-like than fauna-like.

I think I’ve seen what you are talking about. It’s not a sea cucumber, but I don’t know what it is.

There are an awful lot of marine invertebrates that look like “translucent bags of crap,” lumps of snot, etc, :slight_smile:

I’ll take your word for it that they weren’t, but keep sea cucumbers come in a VAST array of sizes, colors and shapes. I Googled them, too, before I posted my response, and none of the pictures I found looked anything like the sea cucumbers that are in the Puget Sound, Hawai’i or Mexico (and those all looked different from each other).

Anyway. Now you’ve got me all curious, so I hope someone will come along with the answer. Colibri is right, too. There are an awful lot of marine invertebrates that look like “translucent bags of crap.”

  1. could these be mermaids purses ?, the egg casing of small sharks and rays

  2. Sounds like worm casts - these are formed when the worms excrete small piles of sand and mud outside their burrows

I wish I could post a picture, but my underwater photos are really fuzzy and murky, and entirely non-digital.

I am not an expert on East Coast coastal critters, but you crab sounds like one of the many species of Loxorhynchus. They use camoflage and spiky shells more than claws to defend themselves.

Your #3 is likely a sea cucumber as Beadalin said.

From what I was able to google, they don’t look like that. And I’ve never seen a ray or shark in these waters, though that may mean nothing.

“Worm casts” may not be right, but certainly sounds descriptive.

No, it wouldn’t be translucent, and it wouldn’t look like it was about to disintegrate on contact.

I have seen these things in the waters around NY. They are elongated brownish casings of gelatinous material. They are not sea cucumbers.

My vote is for eggs of some sort, even if not shark or ray. Have you tried poking one to see what it does, i.e. will it wriggle away or fall apart?

My dive was right before lunch–I wasn’t about to stick my fingers in it. Next week I’ll bring a plastic poking stick and see.

Hmm, like I said, I am not an expert on East Coast sea creatures, but some sea cucumbers are translucent, and they look very fragile. They vary a LOT in what they look like:

(this includes one which is almost transparent)

I think we’d have to know more, like “size?” Were they moving? Did they seem to all be lined up the same way? Did you try and touch one?

Try going to Google Images and “sea cucumber”.

I’ve spent many summers beachcombing on the northeastern coast of the US. I’m certain these things are not sea cucumbers.
Linking to random images of sea cucumbers that don’t occur anywhere near this area isn’t particularly helpful.

I only saw two, on was more of a blob and one was a sausage. They were not together. The size of each was probable equal to that of a grapefruit (the sausage one looking like a really big human poop). They didn’t move except for with the undercurrent.

Then, I guess we need a picture or failing that, you to pick one up carfully (with gloves) and examine it.

It could be excrement, eggs, or even plastic bags.

Despite Colibri’s skills at beachcombing, this could be a type of sea cumcumber that inhabits deeper water than the one he is used to. They do come in translucent versions, and some do look fragile.

My point in linking to the fotos- was that there are scads of sea cucumbers, of wildly varying appearance. I have no doubt that Colibri is familiar with the most common species that lives next to the shore, and he has eliminated that species. But that doesn’t mean it’s not another species.

Here’s a link to a east coast species that is somewhat rare and translucent:

Cucumaria pulcherrima look down to Echinoderms.

But there are also lost of other pics there that may help our OP>

From **tdn’s ** more extensive description, these objects are unequivocally not sea cucumbers.