Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sea Shells 1.7.1986

Merja sent me this pretty First Day Cover. The information on these sea shells is courtesy Cyprus Postal Department. Issued on 1.7.1986.

Molluscs are found on all sea shores in Cyprus, but in most people's view, they are of no interest or importance. However, the ease with which the delicate beauty of their shells may be preserved in dried specimens has, recently, begun to attract the attention of an ever increasing number of people. The phylum mollusc is one of the largest groups of the marine invertebrates. The world "molluscus" means "soft" and denotes the soft fleshy body of the animals. Because of their structure most of these animals are often enclosed and protected by a hard shell. The shell is secreted by the mantle, a tissue that is present at the soft body of the animal. The molluscs are divided into six classes: Monoplacophora, Loricata, Gastropoda, Scaphopoda, Lamellibranchiata, Cephalopoda. In Cyprus waters there is a wide diversity of species. The stamps of this issue depict four of these species, one classified in the Lamellibranchiata (Bivalves) class and three in the Gastropoda class.

Chlamys pesfelis. Family Pectinidae. Valves convex up to 30mm. Surface has finely grooved ribs. Shell colour is pink or yellow-pink. Ears are unequal. It is found in deep waters. Rarity: Occasional.

Charonia variegata. Family Cymatiidae ("Triton shells"). Shell is large, up to 250mm, fusiform, yellow-brown. Spire highl aperture with toothed lips with a horny, ovate operculum. Found on rocky shoes around the island. Rarity: Common

Murex brandaris. Family Muricidae ("Rock shells or whelks"). Up to 95mm. Shell is yellowish, Siphon canal long. Surface with long spines. Operculum is thick and horny. They feed on other animals, especially bivalves. Found in shallow waters around the island. Rarity: Occasional.

Cypraea spurca. Family Cypraeidae ("Cowry shells"). Up to 35mm. Shell is thick, oval with a very well developed inflated body whorl. Surface is smooth, beautifully coloured, grey-yellowish with small brown dots. Its aperture is long and narrow; operculum is absent. Found on rocky shores around the island. Rarity: Common

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