One of the most notable attractions inside is the revolving restaurant which provides 360-degree views of Dallas. Seagulls and other marine birds will eat the animal inside the Scotch Bonnet once they have extracted it, often by dropping the live shell from high up in the air. To defend themselves against predators, these animals can tuck inside the shell to hide. Their predators, besides birds, are blue crabs who can crush the shell with their claws and eat the snail underwater. Scotch Bonnets live in the deep, tropical waters of the Gulf Stream and the proximity of the Gulf Stream to the land on Hatteras Island can determine if any of them will be found on our local beaches. Their migrations and reproductive behaviors result in their inhabiting a variety of seasonal habitats in temperate and subtropical waters including the surf zone, bays and estuaries, on coral and rocky reefs, and over sandy and muddy bottoms. Storms from the Southern Atlantic region that hit Hatteras or Ocracoke islands tend to leave Scotch Bonnets on the shores because the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, where the seashells live, have been pushed a little closer to the shoreline. The best part about silk bonnets compared to using scarves or caps is that it can accommodate any length of hair.
Silk and satin bonnets have been around for years. Other times, huge amounts of seaweed wash ashore and the Scotch Bonnets can be found mixed up in these piles of seagrass. The varieties of treasures that can wash up – and the quantities of them that can appear – are determined by many elements, and is more than just knowing a secret spot, as many people tend to think. About the Author: Kristin Hissong is a North Carolina native and UNC Charlotte graduate, an Outer Banks resident of 15 years, and is a dedicated, “professional beachcomber.” She has spent more 20,000 hours walking on both our local shores and shorelines around the Eastern Seaboard, and has collected thousands upon thousands of items from the Atlantic Ocean. On occasion, Engadget will accept travel and lodging from auto manufacturers to test drive vehicles not yet available for review from a local fleet. Our test car, finished in non-traditional Misano metallic blue, certainly stands out among the comparatively bland motors parked on my street. Father bought the car, and he and Mr. Astell drove to Liberty.
Moon snails are similar to the sundial, in that their circular shape contains a mouth opening, and spirals that wind all the way into the center of the shell. Nautica shell, with a flat, circular shape, and spirals running all the way from the perimeter-located mouth to the center of the shell. Augers are tiny, with long conical shapes and spirals that encompass the entire length of their bodies. Whelks generally produce the most confusion among new Outer Banks beachcombers, as they are commonly and mistakenly referred to as “conchs.” They certainly have many similarities to the Florida conchs, with conical shapes, wide openings, and fat spirals that line the top of the shell, but whelks are much more common on the Outer Banks and the northern East Coast beaches. However, the moon snail is one of the more common shells on the Outer Banks, and while the sundial rarely gets larger than 3″, a moon snail can be 5″ or more.
The Cameo Helmet shell, for comparison, has a record in our state measuring more than 10 inches, as does the Clench Helmet, and both of these shells are typically found in more tropical areas, like the Caribbean. The Scotch Bonnet does not get very big compared to the other helmet shells, and in fact, the North Carolina state record measures only 3.5 inches. Beachcombers often find parts of Scotch Bonnets scattered along the beaches of North Carolina, so finding a complete one is a real reward for a dedicated collector. Seashells were the first gift I fell in love with from the ocean, so I decided to highlight the Scotch Bonnet in this inaugural beachcombing article, as it is one of my absolute personal favorites to find, and incidentally, is North Carolina’s official seashell. The Outer Banks frequently has rough waves, especially outside the summer months, which can violently toss seashells around and throw them ashore with force. But there are so many more different types of gifts that wash up besides seashells for beachcombers to discover, like fossils, sharks’ teeth, driftwood and seaglass, just to name a few.
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