On 20th January(2018 Stuart Belshaw collected some small shells from the sandy beach in Geodh’Gainmhich (NC003324), south of the Stoer Lighthouse carpark, which he passed on to us. Four were cowries, all with the dark spots identifying them as the spotted cowrie Trivia monacha, the usual species found around the coast of Assynt, but generally only in small numbers.
Two others were also familiar, a small rounded valve of the queen scallop Aequipecten opercularis and a lovely translucent shell of the blue-rayed limpet Helcion pellucidum pellucidum.
However, the remaining small pinkish bivalve, just 12mm long, with a couple of darker markings radiating out from the central umbo, was not one that we have noticed before. It is readily recognisable as one of the sunset shells Gari spp., of which four species occur in British waters, and we have tentatively identified it as the smallest species, Gari tellinella.
There is an excellent new website entitled The Marine Mollusca of West Scotland and the North Coast of Ireland by Shelagh Smith and Julia Nunn (2017), which may be accessed at www.ccmap.co.uk/nmws_atlas/index_scottish_mollusc_atlas.htm. It has up-to-date distribution maps for 700+ species with illustrations of their shells. There appear to be no previous records for this species of sunset shell from the coast of Assynt, though it is fairly widespread in the area covered by this referenced website. Well done, Stuart!
Ian Evans and Gwen Richards