This will likely not excite any but the anoraks amongst us: Last week in Utila, I witnessed hatching West Indian Chanks (I was excited) and I can report that they are as slow when hatching as they are as adults moving across the sand. Although the word chank is often used interchangeably with conch, chanks are gastropods belonging to the family Turbinellidae, while true conchs are in the family Strombidae. Over the years, we have received several inquires about a strange object, usually found attached to a gorgonian, that looks sort of like a vent hose from a clothes dryer. They are the egg cases of the West Indian Chank, Turbinella angulata, and while I have seen quite a few, I have never seen them unattached.
We were diving in a large grass bed, just off a shallow reef, surveying fish for REEF, when I saw an egg case rolling around in the sand just under the boat. The strong winds and heavy seas all week may have contributed to the separation of the egg cases (I saw several) from their holdfasts – or maybe the shells growing inside became too heavy, causing them to tear away – who knows? Anyway, I showed it to a couple of divers and moved on to continue my fish count. Near the end of the dive, I returned to the one under the boat and saw that some of the tiny mollusks had moved, so I settled in to watch several of them crawl out of the protection of their egg case. Watch the video below, or on our BlennyWatcher YouTube channel. ~ Anna DeLoach