Melongena corona (Gmelin, 1791) St. Johns County, Florida

    For many years the northern end of the range of Melongena corona on the east coast of Florida was believed to be the Matanzas River just south of Matanzas Inlet near the St. Johns/Flagler County line. Crabbed Melongena shells were commonly found in the river near the inlet but no living specimens could be found.  Beginning in the Fall of 2007 and continuing to the present (5/7/2016), empty Melongena corona shells, in various stages of decay, were found near muddy oyster habitat in the Tolomato River on both the north and south sides of the river near Vilano Beach (immediately north of St. Augustine) but no living specimens were forthcoming. The best of these specimens (which appears to be relatively fresh dead) is illustrated below. Subsequent to the 2007 finds in the Tolomato River, additional crabbed or fragments of Melongena shells were found at Mayport Naval Station at the mouth of the St. Johns River, at Big Talbot Island State Park north of the river (both locations in Duval County), and inside Nassau Sound on the southern end of Amelia Island in Nassau County. Additionally, a anecdotal report was received that an empty Melongena shell had been found in southern Georgia.

    Recently received information indicates that Canadian sheller Harold Lamb, while visiting St. Augustine in 2013, found five live Melongena and egg cases in sucking mud in the Matanzas River near the County Road 206 (CR-206) bridge at Crescent Beach, St. Johns County Florida. This represented a significant northern extension of the confirmed range of the species. During Harold's May 2016 visit to St. Augustine he once again found one live Melongena corona and egg cases near the CR-206 bridge (see page three for images).

   In light of Harold's finds in dangerous and nearly inaccessible mud habitat near Crescent Beach, the existence of similar nearly inaccessible habitat in the Tolomato River and Nassau Sound with the presence of empty Melongena shells, It appears possible that the range of Melongena corona could in fact extend to Camden County in far southeast Georgia where similar mud habitat exists.

Melongena corona (Gmelin, 1791) St. Johns County, Florida

    Crabbed near oysters, Tolomato River near Vilano Beach, St. Johns Co., Florida, 2/20/2008 (80 mm.). Collected and photographed by Brian Marshall.

Melongena corona (Gmelin, 1791) St. Johns County, Florida

    In shallow water near oysters, southern St. Johns County, Florida about 200 yards north of the Flagler County line, 7/22/2009. Digital image by Joel Wooster.


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