Overview

Brief Summary

Pinna nobilis (commonly referred to as the noble pen shell) is the largest bivalve in the Mediterranean, with lengths eclipsing one meter. It has been used by mankind for hundreds of years as a source of food and for its sea silk, and it is now an endangered species. It processes up to 6 liters of sea water every hour, filtering out the phytoplankton it uses as a main food source. It lives in depths ranging from 0.5 to 60 meters.

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Distribution

Pinna nobilis is Endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, and most prevalent in the waters surrounding Sardinia. (Katsanevakis, 2005)

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Physical Description

Morphology

Shell: Composed of two layers. The outermost, more fragile layer is formed by a microstructure of large calcite prisms, while the inner layer, which increases in width toward the anterior end, is made up of aragonitic nacre (mother of pearl) (Garcia-March and Vicente, 2006). Twenty four longitudinal spinous ribs are present (Dillwyn, 1817). The valves are roughened by recurved and semi tabular plates (Cuvier, 1833). As all pinnids, it is roughly triangular with a tapered anterior end. The exterior color can range from gold to more red. Average size of 65 cm, but capable of lengths of over one meter.

Interior: Ranges from a bright yellow or red in the anterior to a glossy-white in the posterior.

Byssus: This is produced by Pinna nobilis in order to attach to the substratum. It is a fine, hair-like substance composed of more than 20,000 filaments, each around 25cm long (Garcia-March and Vicente, 2006).

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Diagnostic Description

Fan-shaped shell typically ranging from 7 to 70cm in length, but can reach sizes up to 120cm (Zavodnik, Hrs-Brenko, Legac, 1991). Width ranges from 2.5 to 25cm at widest point of the fan. 24 longitudinal spinous ribs, which are roughly tubular (Dillwyn, 1817) Pinna nobilis is distinguished from other Pinna members by its valves, which are roughened by recurved and semi tabular plates. (Cuvier, 1833)

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Look Alikes

Pinna rudis is often mistaken for Pinna nobilis. However, Pinna nobilis is an endobyssate and thus found only in sandy, muddy sediment whereas Pinna rudis is an epibyssate and is therefore attached to rocks or seaweed. Besides, Pinna rudis is more oblong in shape, with six to eight longitudinal rounded ribs, compared to the 24 of Pinna nobilis. (Dillwyn, 1817)

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Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 83 - 83
 
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Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 83 - 83
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Found primarily in coastal regions with depths ranging from 0.5 - 60m. Particularly present in soft-sediment areas overgrown by the seagrasses Posidonia oceanica, Cymodocea nodosa, Zostera marina or Z. noltii (Zavodnik, 1967; Zavodnik, Hrs-Brenko, Legac, 1991).

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Trophic Strategy

Pinna nobilis is a heterotrophic suspension feeder, feasting on phytoplankton and other small organisms. Sea stars and carnivorous gastropods represent the main threats of predation (Mikkelsen and Bieler, 2007).

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General Ecology

This species consumes mainly phytoplankton and other small organisms, and is eaten by sea stars and carnivorous gastropods. Pinna nobilis is also capable of hosting other organisms; the surface of the shell is carved out by sponges and polychaete worms, and the mantle cavity serves as a home to pea crabs (Pinnotheridae) and shrimps (Pontoniidae). (Mikkelsen and Bieler, 2007)

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Bury themselves roughly halfway in sand, mud or shell hash, with their pointed anterior end in the sand, leaving the wider posterior end exposed. The byssus of the animal is used to attach to pebbles, sand, maerl, small pieces of biodetritic material, roots and rhizomes of Posidonica oceanica, in order to keep it in place (García-March, 2006). Once anchored, they live out the rest of their lives in the same place.

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Life Cycle

Begins as a larva spending 5-10 days afloat in the sea before settling to the ocean floor. Undergoes fairly rapid early development, growing roughly 10cm per year until sexual maturity is reached at a length of approximately 40 cm. From that point on, Pinna nobilis grows at a slower rate of roughly 3 cm per year, reaching an average adult length of 65 cm. However it is capable of living for up to 25 years and reaching lengths of up to one meter (Garcia-March, Garcia-Carrascosa, Peña, 2002). Pinna nobilis grows fastest during late spring and early summer, most likely due to a prime combination between water temperature and food availability. Conversely, the species growth is slowed during the winter, and later summer, due to extremes in water temperature (Katsavenakis, 2007).

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Life Expectancy

This species reaches sexual maturity within 3-4 years, and can live for up to 25 years (Garcia-March, Garcia-Carrascosa, Peña, 2002).

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Reproduction

The species Pinna nobilis depends on Pavina padonia, a spongy alga which is hosted by the large shell. In return for shelter, Pavina padonia collects and breeds the gametes of Pinna nobilis. They are then left to disperse into the sea usually around May. After a brief larval period (5-10 days) the young bivalves settle to the sea floor and anchor (García-March, 2006).

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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Has been around at least since the end of the Miocene (Gomez-Alba, 1988).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pinna nobilis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 26 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

TAT------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AATCTGAGATTTTGGCTATTGCCTTCTTCGCTATACTGTTTGTTCTTATCAGCTTTTGTAGAGGGCGGTGCCGGGACTGGTTGAACTATCTATCCTCCTCTTTCTACTTATCTGTACCAT---GGGATGGCTGTCGATTTAGCTATTTTTTCTCTTCATCTGGCTGGATTAGCTTCTATTTTTGGCGGAATTAATTTTATTGTTACAGCTCAGAATATACGT------CGAATGGAGAGACATTTAATGGATTTGTTCCCTTGGGCTGTTCTAGTAACTGCTGTGCTGTTGGTAGTCTCTCTTCCTGTGTTGGCGGGTGGAATTACTATGCTTTTAACTGATCGACACTTTAACACTAGGTTTTACTTTCCTGGAGGAGGGGGAGACCCTGTTTTGTTTCAGCACCTTTTCTGGTTCTTTGGTCATCCGGAAGTCTATATTCTTATTCTTCCGGCTTTTGGGATGATTTCGCATATAGTGTGTCATTGATCGTTTAAGCTAGAGGTATTTGGGGGCTTGGCTATAATTTATGCTATACTAGGAATTGGGGCCCTTGGATTTTTAGTTTGGGGGCACCATATGTTCACAGTCGGAATAGATGTTAATAGACGGG
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pinna nobilis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 26
Specimens with Barcodes: 26
Species With Barcodes: 1
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As of March, 2011 there were no published gene sequences of P. nobilis.

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Conservation

Conservation Status

Heavy commercial fishing in the past has made Pinna nobilis an endangered species. Fishing the species is banned by the European Union, but poaching in the form of free-diving is still a problem (Centoducati et al, 2007).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Sea Silk

Sea silk is an extremely fine, rare, and valuable fabric that is made from the long silky filaments or byssus secreted by a gland in the foot of pen shells (in particular Pinna nobilis). The byssus is used by the clam to attach itself to the sea bed.

Sea silk was produced in the Mediterranean region from the large marine bivalve mollusc Pinna nobilis until early in the 20th century. The shell, which is sometimes almost a metre long, adheres itself to rocks with a tuft of very strong thin fibres, pointed end down, in the intertidal zone. These byssus or filaments (which can be up to 6 cm long) are spun and, when treated with lemon juice, turn a golden colour, which never fades. 

The cloth produced from these filaments can be woven even finer than silk, and is extremely light and warm; however, it attracts clothes moths, the larvae of which will eat it. It was said that a pair of women's gloves could fit into half a walnut shell and a pair of stockings in a snuffbox. In addition, Pinna nobilis is also sometimes gathered for its flesh (as food) and occasionally has pearls of fair quality.

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Previously heavily fished for commercial purposes, populations have dwindled to the point that the species is now endangered (Centoducati et al, 2007). Sea silk has been made from its byssus since the 4th century, and is used to weave novelty items. Due to its large size, the shell is also used for decorative purposes (Mikkelsen and Bieler, 2007).

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Wikipedia

Pinna nobilis

Pinna nobilis, common name the noble pen shell or fan mussel, is a large species of Mediterranean clam, a marine bivalve mollusc in the family Pinnidae, the pen shells. It reaches up to 120 cm (4 ft) of shell length.[1]

Description[edit]

Live specimen of Pinna nobilis, in Levanto, Liguria

The bivalve shell is usually 30–50 cm (1.0–1.6 ft) long,[2] but can reach 120 cm (4 ft).[1] Its shape differs depending on the region it enhabitates. Like all pen shells it is relatively fragile to pollution and shell damage. It attaches itself to rocks using a strong byssus composed of many silk-like threads which used to be made into cloth. These keratin fibres that the animal secretes by byssus gland are even 6 cm (2.4 in) long. The inside of the shell is lined with brilliant mother-of-pearl.[3]

Distribution[edit]

This species is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, where it lives offshore at depths ranging between 0.5 and 60 m (1.6 and 196.9 ft).[4] It could be found buried beneath soft-sediment areas (fine sand, mud, often anoxic).[5]

Human relevance[edit]

This species is the origin of sea silk, which was made from the byssus of the animal.[6]

In recent years, Pinna nobilis has become threatened with extinction, due in part to fishing, incidental killing by trawling and anchoring, and the decline in seagrass fields; pollution kills eggs, larvae, and adult mussels.[7] The noble pen shell has been listed as an endangered species in the Mediterranean Sea. The European Council Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, on conservation of natural habitats and the wild fauna and flora, proclaims that P. nobilis is strictly protected (by the Annex IV of EEC, 1992)- all forms of deliberate capture or killing of fan mussel specimens are prohibited by law.[8]

As part of the Costa Concordia disaster recovery effort ongoing in Italy (2012), a group of about 200 Pinna nobilis were manually relocated to a nearby area due to the threat posed by subsequent engineering work.[9]

Gallery[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b (Zavodnik, Hrs-Brenko, & Legac, 1991)
  2. ^ Acquario di Genova (2006). Pinna nobilis. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  3. ^ Tyndale (1849), pp. 77–79.
  4. ^ (Butler, Vicente, & De Gaulejac, 1993)
  5. ^ (Centoducati et al, 2006)
  6. ^ Hill (2009), pp. 468–476.
  7. ^ Hill (2009), pp. 468–476.
  8. ^ (Centoducati et al, 2006)
  9. ^ Reuters video about the Pinna nobilis relocation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Butler, A., Vicente, N., De Gaulejac, B. (1993). Ecology of the pteroid bivalves P. nobilis bicolor Gmelin and P. nobilis L. Marine Life, 3(1-2), 37-45.
  • Centoducati, G., Tarsitano, E., Bottalico, A., Marvulli, M., Lai, O., Crescenzo, G. (2006). Monitoring of the Endangered Pinna nobilis Linee, 1758 in the Mar Grande of Taranto (Ionian Sea, Italy). In the Environ Monit Assess (2007) 131:339-347.
  • Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd centuries CE. John E. Hill. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1. See Section 12 plus "Appendix B – Sea Silk".
  • Hill, John E. 2004. The Peoples of the West. A draft annotated translation of the 3rd century Weilüe – see Section 12 of the text and Appendix D.
  • Laufer, Berthold. 1915. "The Story of the Pinna and the Syrian Lamb", The Journal of American Folk-lore 28.108:103–128.
  • McKinley, Daniel L. 1988. "Pinna and Her Silken Beard: A Foray Into Historical Misappropriations". Ars Textrina: A Journal of Textiles and Costumes, Vol. Twenty-nine, June 1998, Winnipeg, Canada. pp. 9–223.
  • Maeder, Felicitas 2002. "The project Sea-silk – Rediscovering an Ancient Textile Material." Archaeological Textiles Newsletter, Number 35, Autumn 2002, pp. 8–11.
  • Maeder, Felicitas, Hänggi, Ambros and Wunderlin, Dominik, Eds. 2004. Bisso marino : Fili d’oro dal fondo del mare – Muschelseide : Goldene Fäden vom Meeresgrund. Naturhistoriches Museum and Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland. (In Italian and German).
  • Schafer, Edward H. 1967. The Vermillion Bird: T'ang Images of the South. University of California Press.
  • Turner, Ruth D. and Rosewater, Joseph 1958. "The Family Pinnidae in the Western Atlantic" Johnsonia, Vol. 3 No. 38, 28 June 1958, pp. 285–326.
  • R. Tucker Abbott & S. Peter Dance, 1982, “Compendium of seashells: a color guide to more than 4,200 of the world’s marine shells”, E.P. Dutton Inc., New York. ISBN 0-525-93269-0.
  • Tyndale (1849): The Island of Sardinia, including Pictures of the Manners and Customs of the Sardinians, . . . Three Volumes. John Warre Tyndale. London: Richard Bentley.
  • Zavodnik, D., Hrs-Brenko, M., & Legac, M. (1991). Synopsis of the fan shell P. nobilis L. in the eastern Adriatic sea. In the C. F. Boudouresque, M. Avon, & V. Gravez (Eds.), Les Especes Marines a Proteger en Mediterranee (pp. 169–178). Marseille, France: GIS Posidonie publ.
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