You can see compared to the shells around it that this is a pretty big pufferfish that has washed up on the beach on Sanibel Island. I was especially intrigured by those teeth! A little research helped me learn that young pufferfish have a set of two rows of "normal fish teeth" (whatever that means), but as they age, their teeth become fused to form a beak-like shape. Pufferfish jaws are strong enough to crush snails and crack open crabs, but in feeding this way their teeth are constantly being eroded, and therefore to compensate for this, their teeth grow continuously. Fascinating!
I have no idea what happened to the eyes, as you can see, it's an empty eye socket here. But another fascinating fact I learned about pufferfish is that they can move their eyes independent of one another - I wonder how their brain processes looking in two different directions?
Here's a few more of my finds on Sanibel Island while walking the beach late in the day. At left, some sort of organic sea creature (?) or part of one; it looks like a spine of some sort. Does anyone know what this is?
Below right is a man-made find ... a fun and whimsical sand octopus, with small shells used to suggest the eyes, a nose, and a toothy smile.
I was amazed by the density of wash-up seashells on the beach at Sanibel Island. Look at this picture below - you can't even see the sand for all of the shells that have covered the beach! I see that Sanibel Island is called "The Seashell Capital of the World," as it is home to more than 250 species of shells. If you look at a map of Sanibel Island, you can see a wide sloping curve of the geography allows it to receive the impact of strong Gulf of Mexico currents, making Sanibel Island perfect for receiving an abundance of seashells pushed onto the beach.
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