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Cape Cod Tommy Cod Houses

An early August stroller on Cape Cod’s beaches will stoop down, and with a puzzled look, see near the tide line, a sand ring, shaped like a small stand-up collar, like those worn by grandpa in his courting days. Curious, the investigator will pick it up, only to have it crumble to running sand in his fingers.

These “sand collars” are only one of the hundreds of fascinating formations found on New England and Cape Cod beaches. For years biologists and naturalists tried to describe them in elaborate scientific terms as strange species of living animals, but the small Cape Cod boy, used to such things on his beach, had a less scientific but far more accurate name for the strange “sand collars.”

He called them “tommy-cod houses.” And houses they are. These rings of sand are really houses for the eggs of the sea-snail, that familiar summertime dweller along our seacoast. Although the sea snail is small and rather silly looking, it still has the same mother complex about its young as any other living species.

Some time during July, the sea snail “glues” its eggs together with grains of sand and a gelatinous substance that it secretes. This becomes the “sand collar” —- a sort of snail incubator. This completed, the prolific snail leaves the completed egg capsule on the beach in the intertidal zone to hatch.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 02/13/06
Categories: Nature
Keywords: nature, critters


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