Thursday, December 31, 2009

Homing Behavior

One of the things I have found fascinating about being married is all of the stories that are a part of another family's history. We all have stories and I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing the many that the Fresh/Rogers/Stalvey clan has been known to tell.

Eddie and I visited Myrtle Beach as a faux second honeymoon in October after our wedding last year. I was on Fall Break and Eddie took a few days off so that we could have a long weekend at his family's beach house in Garden City, South Carolina.

While we were there we only had one good beach day. The weather was cold and wet for the most part, but the day after we arrived we had fairly good, albeit cool, beach weather. I sat and sunned for several hours while my can't-sit-still husband roamed the beach. I couldn't understand why he didn't want to sit and relax until he told me a story about his family.

Eddie's "Grandmama," Barbara, taught him that he could spend hours at the beach and enjoy it all he wanted, but their tradition was that they couldn't go home until they'd each found a limpet. The tradition, as I understand it, actually originated earlier than with Grandmama. Regardless, you must have a limpet in your possession in order to go home for the day.

A limpet is a snail that has a simple shell which is more or less broadly conical in shape and which is not coiled, or appears not to be coiled, in the adult snail. Some species of limpets return to the same spot on the rock known as a "home scar" just before the tide recedes. In such species, the shape of their shell often grows to precisely match the contours of the rock surrounding the scar. This behaviour presumably allows them to form a better seal to the rock and may help protect from either predation or desiccation. It is still unclear how limpets find their way back to the same spot each time, but it is thought that they follow pheromones in the mucus left as they move. They are one of the few invertebrates to exhibit territoriality and will aggressively push other organisms out of this patch by ramming with their shell, thereby allowing their patch of algae to grow for their own grazing. (Wikipedia)

I had no idea how much a part of Eddie's family this was until Jimmy's funeral on Tuesday. Each family member that passes away has limpets placed in his or her hand. Each person goes home with their shells.


pcb said...

Lauren, this is lovely.

Anna Catherine said...

What a sweet story.
p.s. I was really impressed with your knowledge until I saw you quoted wikipedia! haha! You could have fooled me!