Black Creek Field Trip
By Mary Reynolds
    On Saturday, July 8th, five members of the Jacksonville Shell Club and two guests made shell club history by going to Black Creek in Clay County for the first club field trip of the new millennium. Participating were Teresa St. John, George Hapsis, Harry Lee, Harold Hatter, our guests Michelle and Mark Neill, and myself. In preparation for the trip, we all met at my home in Green Cove Springs at 10:00 am.

Elliptio occulta (I. Lea, 1843) Hidden Spike     I had wondered what could be found in Black Creek other than Pomacea paludosa (Say, 1829) (Florida Applesnail) or the introduced species Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774) (Asian Clam). These species were perhaps something that most shell collectors in Florida had collected already, or, in the case of the latter, were not interested in.

    Harry was interested in learning what naiads (pearly freshwater mussels) might be found and suggested that we look at the Rideout Bridge. The shoreline dropped off quickly, but we were able to find some shallow water in which to look for shells although we had to swim around each other when we wanted to move. I found a Mytilopsis leucophaeata (Conrad, 1831) (Dark Falsemussel), and we found some dead Corbicula and Elliptio occulta (I. Lea, 1843) (Hidden Spike) . Harry suggested the die-off might be due to a rise in salinity. The only live shells were the Mytilopsis leucophaeata, which were healthy and attached by their byssus to submerged branches. As we climbed onto the bank, a neighbor told us that the place was private property.

    We then went on to the bridge on Florida Highway 218. A narrow lane led down to the spot, but access to the water was much easier, and the shoreline had a gentler slope. It was a lot easier to nose around. As we took our time exploring this locale, each person found something of interest.

    Michelle found a big Pomacea paludosa; Teresa found a record sized Campeloma floridense (Call, 1886) (Purple-throat Campeloma); George found a Rangia cuneata (G. B. Sowerby I, 1831) (Atlantic Rangia) and Uniomerus carolinianus (Bosc, 1801) Florida Pondhorn. Harry and Harold found Campeloma floridense, and Mytilopsis leucophaeata, and Mark found the tiny clam Taxolasma paulum (I. Lea, 1840) (Iridescent Lilliput). This find was good news. It is an indicator of the health of the river, which is sensitive to environmental changes. I found a Villosa vibex (Conrad, 1834) (Southern Rainbow). We all found some living Elliptio occulta and Corbicula fluminea. These were quite abundant and were thriving in this upstream ecosystem.

    Black Creek, features water that is cola colored like a lot of Florida's rivers and also full of "gators." As good citizens, we decided to clean up some of the monofilament fishing line in which a lot of us were getting tangled. Some of us also salvaged some of the fishing tackle that was attached.

    We bid goodbye to George, who had to leave early, and then headed back to my house for the pot luck lunch. I thanked everybody for being good sports for riding in the back of my pickup. We felt it was a good trip and that everyone had a good time. We agreed that we should have more field trips.

    This is a complete listing of what was found:

  • Rangia cuneata (G. B. Sowerby I, 1831) Atlantic Rangia
  • Mytilopsis leucophaeata (Conrad, 1831) Dark Falsemussel
  • Campeloma floridense (Call, 1886) Purple-throat Campeloma
  • Pomacea paludosa (Say, 1829) Florida Applesnail
  • Elliptio occulta (I. Lea, 1843) Hidden Spike
  • Uniomerus carolinianus (Bosc, 1801) Florida Pondhorn
  • Villosa vibex (Conrad, 1834) Southern Rainbow
  • Corbicula fluminea (Müller, 1774) Asian Clam
  • Toxolasma paulum (I. Lea, 1840) Iridescent Lilliput

Complete Listing Of Northeast Florida Aquatic Mollusks