Cape Cod Canal Mystery

The Mussel Shell Mystery

We are daily walkers on the service road next to the Cape Cod Canal. Every day we pass by a section that is strewn with mussel shells. The old shells disappear and new ones take their place. The exchange seems to occur sometime after dark and before the early morning walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers appear. The shells have been picked clean of meat and do not appear to be shattered. They are not broken into small pieces but seem to be split in the manner of a diner in one of the Cape's many seafood establishments.

There are several explanations for these observations.

1. Somebody brings mussels to the road at night, breaks open the shells and eats them. This person then cleans up the shells left on the scene the previous night and replaces them with the new batch of the day. Likelihood.remote
2. Night fishermen who cast their lines from the rocks along the canal will sometimes hear or feel a large short- legged animal scurrying through the many nooks and crannies. If he catches a moonbeam just right he will see the animal has fur and beady eyes and he will readily recognize an unusually large rat. The variety of seafood available between the rocks is better than the fisherman can get at the nearby Joe's Fish Market. Do these residents of the rocks break open the mussels with their jaws, eat the meat and toss the shells up to the road? Likelihood...extremely remote
3. There is an early morning or night cleaning crew that sweeps shells and other debris from the road. New shells appear when sea gulls carry mussels in their beaks and hover over the macadam road. They drop the shellfish from the appropriate height with the plan to have gravity and impact effect the opening. Gulls are known to favor mussels and other shellfish. Why do they go to all this bother when all they have to do is use the strength of their beaks to open the shells? If so, then why are the shells distributed in a small section of the road and not along the rocks? Maybe gulls don't have the strength to break open a mussel. Then again, maybe gulls eat mussels shell and all. Likelihood. Better than the previous two.
If sea gulls break open mussels by dropping them from a height, it would seem there would be other gulls waiting on or near the road for the drop. They are notorious thieves and opportunists. It is likely a top gun who has control of the community can only use the drop method. Should we spend an overnight and dawn at the Canal with the hope of observing the drop? " We? Not likely