Shell of the month – September 2022

Homalocantha anatomica Perry, 1811

Not all shells are handsome. Not all shells are graceful. Not all shells look like wha we think a shell should look like.

Homalocantha are Murex found in the tropics waters of the Pacific. They reside in coral heads. We have two varieties of Homalocantha anatomical this month, Homalocantha anatomica zamboi Burch & Burch 1960 and Homalocantha anatomica pele Pilsbry 1918. The first is from the Philippines The second is indigenous to Hawaii. Hawaiaans consider Pele to be full species Authorities disagree.

Both are extremely similar with a dominant body while and large varices that look like webbed feet at the termination of growth. The difference being that Zamboi shoot out varies at the end of each growth cycle and in Pele a knob is formed instead Pele is generally larger. This specimens small to make a a better comparison. Adult size is between 2 and 3 inches.

S second difference is that Zamoi is always white. Pele can have brilliant colors, especially on the body white. Intense reds and yellows sometimes occur. shades of lavender are common. The price for a bright red specimen spirals out of control.

The development of the body sculpture is very consistent from one specimen to the next.. Occasional specimens have additional or missing digits. The difference between the two species is clear in the final phot. Look closely!

Shell of the Month – August 2022

Amoria ubdulaata Sowerby 1864 extreme low tide, St. Vincent Gulf, South Australia, Australia

With its elegantly proportioned curves and delicate undulating pattern of fine lines, a decentt size and high gold Amoria undulate is a most beautiful shell. 

Amoriia undulate is a member of the family Volutidae. Its common name is Wavy Volute. It is carnivores eating mainly small sea snails. 

There are multiple specie of Amoria that can be collected in southern Australia. where they  inhabit the tidal flats where they breed. Australia is known for its extensive tides that leave huge amounts of the bottom surface exposed at low tide, even more so on the extreme low tides.  Amoria undulate like many others in its family live at the far end of the tidal bank. They are not found close to the shore. After breeding season they migrate to deeper water.   

To collect one has to watch the tide table and wade out a long distance in hopes to collect, alway keeping an eye on the cock so as not to get drowned by the surging incoming tie. Hence, these shells don’t show up all that often in  collections. 

This specimen was donated by Richard Kent who obtained it from a South Australian shell dealer/collector. It is solid and full adult. It would be graded as a gem. It would be a standout in any collection!

Shell of the Month – July 2022

Terebra areolata (Link, 1807) by diver 20m in sand, Palawam Island, Philippines

Terebra pertusa (Born, 1778) hand dredged 4-8m, Olango Island, Cebu, Philippines 

Terebra nebulosa (Sowerby, 1825) hand dredged 4-8m, Olango Island, Cebu, Philippines 

The Terebridae are a very large family composed of over 400 species. They are world-wide in distribution and live in tropical waters. They prefer a sandy bottom where they feed on sea worms using a harpoon like attachment to poison their prey. They are commonly called Augers, named after a drill bit.

Most augers are small  growing to a maximum size of3 2-3” with many species much smaller then that.  There are a dozen or so species that reach 5+6”, one of which we have here.  And then there is the heavy weight Marlin Spoke, Terebra maculata in a class bu itself. This sold, massive shell reaches 10”.

The Augers a re a colorful lot with an amazing amount of variety. One needs a magnifying glass to identify the smaller species and it would probably take an expert o do so.

The pretty rose colored Terebra nebulosa came out of a dealers lot of 30 that had a few others species mixed in..

All shells were acquired by Richard Kent from a dealer based in Cebu, Phillips.

When shelling in Florida waters, keep an eye open, we have augers here, though all are bland whitish in color.

SHELL OF THE MONTH JUNE 2022

Melongena corona (Gmelin, 1791) Florida Crown Conch

Melongena corona, the Crown Conch, inhabits the shore line of the Gulf of Mexico, especially the west coast of Florida.  It has several closely related species and itself several named varieties. It is variable in size, shape, intensity of color an of particular interest the number and size of the should spines, its Crown of Thorns. Typical specimens reach an adult size of three inches, this one is about four and the rare well fed specimen may reach five inches.

The Crown Conch is cream in color encircled by light to dark brown bands. It has a wide mouth, a claw shaped operculum, and its shoulder is adorned with short atubby spines forming the crown. It is a predator, particularly fond of oysters but will eat any bivalve it comes across. Despite its name, it is not a conch. 

This large distinctive specimen, with its outstanding crown, was donated by Robert Marchiselli, a Tampa Bay area shell dealer. 

SHELL OF THE MONTH JULY 2021

Hexaplex cichoreum
(Gmelin, 1791) [1]

18Hexaplex cichoreum (Gmelin, 1791)  iS a Western Pacific murex of medium to large size, known for its interesting and variable varices. In some specimens they are short and curled while in others stubby. Some populations have long varices (spines) as in this specimen. The shell is commonly white with orange brown bands and the varices are dark chocolate to black. Rare specimens are melanistic and others albino, The spire also varies from short too long.

This specimen is of good size, 4″ long and was collected in the coral reefs by SCUBA off Palawan Island, Philippines in 2018.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – FEBRUARY 2020

             Around the world with cone shells. We welcome our new members with a selection of seven different cone shells from seven different countries.  The cones are venomous and are predators. Most live among the coral reefs in tropical waters. While many species have a natural gloss, others are flat with barely a shine. Cones are a collector’s favorite.
   The collection includes from top left to bottom right the following:
   Conus omaria Hwass in Bruguière, 1792. This popular tent cone is from north west Australia, the southern extent of its range. One could make a huge collection of tent cones as there are so many species. Conus omaria is most typical.
   Conus ebraeus Linn, 1758 is named the Hebrew Cone because the regularly spaced black markings on white resemble Hebrew writing.  This specimen, which is very large for the species, is from Hawaii.
   Conus pupurascens Sowerby, 1833 is the Purple Cone. Unfortunately the purple mottling eventually fades. This one is from an offshore island in Panama.
   Conus janus Hwass in Bruguière, 1792 is an Indian Ocean cone from the island Madagascar. It comes in to two distinct varieties., one with dark brown flamules and other with gold.
   Conus terebra Born, 1758. This plain whitish cone has horizontal striations that completly encircle the shell and that along with its usual shape makes it quite distinctive. This is a Philippine specimen.
   Conus achatinus Gmelin 1791 is called the Agate Cone. It has a striking pattern of clouds and spiral dashes and is quite colorful.  This one comes from the hard to get nation of Myanmar and is the scarcest one in this collection.  
   The final cone is a local representative of the family, Conus regius Gmelin, 1791, and was collected off Key West. The Crown cone has a range that goes down the Caribbean Islands all the way to Brazil.
   All the specimens are in excellent condition; growth lines are natural in cone shells as they grow is spurts and the line marks the end of each growing period.  All shells have a data slip with collection details.  The seven specimens were donated by Richard Kent and should have a combined retail value of $60 or more in today’s market.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – JANUARY 2020

The Harp shells are among the nicest sculpted with the most intricate pattern of all gastropods.  Today there are a dozen recognized species, all of which are very similar.  All but one species are very affordable, making the Harps a favorite to collect. Placing the different specie on a table together is an excellent lesson in differentiation as they are very similar with only minor differences.
   Harpa amouretta is the easiest to identify. It is the smallest harp, generally about 2”, and the only one that is elongate whereas all the others are globular. One element of its pattern, the two by two pairing of fine blackish lines that cross elevated ribs, is unique.
   The common name is Lesser Harp. In times past it was know as Harpa minor, a name that is more fitting. It is extremely widespread in distribution across the entire Indo-Pacific region.  Harpa Amouretta lives either in sand or under rocks and in proximity to reefs. There is a little variation in color and the pattern is consistent.  Harpa amouretta does vary in weight, degree of elongation and thickness of lip.  Also there are populations where the ribs are glossy but the space between is dull.  Several subspecies have been named and generally rejected.
  These three Philippine specimens are 1.5”, 2.25” and 2.5”. All are in gem condition and were donated from the collection of Richard Kent

SHELL OF THE MONTH – NOVEMBER 2019

Conus victoriae Reeve, 1843.
exposed on mud flats at extreme low tide
Broome, West Australia 
   One could easily make an entire collection of textile (tent) cones as there are so many species and so much variety while all share that one common denomination – tents.
   Conus victorae, named in honor of Queen Victoria, is indigenous to the north and western coasts of Australia.  Unlike most cones, it seems any shallow water environment will do and might be found living in mud flats, underneath rocks or in sand at the base of corals.  It is predatory, venomous and one can assume where there is food, it will be found.
   While many tent cones share a similar pattern of tents and fine lines, Conus victorae is distinguishable as its pattern is more complex than most other tent cones. It has a white base overlaid with either orange gold or blueish brown bands, dark blotches, uneven spacing and grouping of small irregular sized tents, fine vertical lines, and often an interrupted pattern. It also tends to have a rougher finish than most textile cones, often with growth lines, healed breaks, and eroded patches. As the shell is common in its locations, there is no reason to collect inferior specimens.
   Conus victoriae is very variable both in coloration and shape,  Elongated spires are often found.  It seems that the colors vary by population rather than within the population. These three specimens came from a lot of two dozen, not one of which had any blue.  I’ve seen other groups where most were blueish and some exceptionally dark.  Albinos also exist.
   These three specimens, are varied in pattern, of near gem quality, but are on the smaller sde,  It seems recently they just don’t grow so big and large specimens will bring twice the price of average ones.
   As with most Australian shells, Conus Victortiae is not easy to obtain due to the exceptionally high price of Australian postage. The shells were acquired from a diver/dealer and are from the collection of Richard Kent. Hopefully the winner will seek out other specimens of different pattern to make an exciting collection of Victoria’s Cone.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – OCTOBER 2019


 
A big mystery in the shell world is why do certain olives cover their pattern with a layer of color, most always black or orange? It is as if they are getting ready to celebrate Halloween! 

   For our October Shell of the Month we have three specimens of Oliva irisans Lamarck, 1811, one orange, one black and an unusual one overlaid with brown yet revealing the pattern underneath. Typical specimens, if there is such a thing, are whitish with faint overall mottling and big bold streaks of brown. Possibly the typical pattern has two interrupted brown bands instead.     

   Olives are scavengers, generally found burrowed in sand with just their siphon exposed.  They are communal by nature and will share a meal.  Up until anout10  years ago olives were abundant off the coast of Broward County.  They were easily collected on the off shore sandbars that weould be exposed at low tide.  After a heavy storm dozens would be found washed up on the beach.  Wiith all the beach reconstructions and dredging in recent years, they are no more.  On the west coast olives are still abundant.

    Olives are fun to collect as there are so many species. Most are colorful, the patterns are interesting and varied and most all are small in size.  Identifification is another story all together as olives are all so similar. Olives have been named and renamed so one needs a very current book to have the latest name. There is a good chance the name on the label of a specimen one bought few years ago is no longer valid. 

   Oliva irisans Lamarck, 1811is sometimes mislabeled as Oliva lignaria Marrat, 1868 as they are quite similar.. Irisans is distinguished by the heavy callous on the apex and spire. The color varieties of irisans all have individual names which are not currently recognized, but still used in the trade.

   Two of the specimens are from the Philippines and the third is from Indonesia. They are matched in size and about gem in condition.  Donated from the collection of Richard Kent

    

 

 

SHELL OF THE MONTH – SEPTEMBER 2019

Chicoreus brunneus, Link 1807 by diver at 10m in coral rubble, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines 2010

The Muricidae is one of the largest, varied and most confusing of all families of mollusks.  Within Muricidae, Chicoreus is the most popular and widely collected.  Worldwide in tropical waters, we have many here in Florida and the Caribbean.  The Philippines have the greatest number of varieties and of those Chicoreus bruneus is one of the more popular and readily available.  Its popularity comes from its deep brown, almost black color that overlays a white shell.  All black and albino specimens are only moderately scare. Orange specimens are rare and quite likely another Chicoreus mislabeled. A common color variety seen mainly in larger specimens is a predominately white shell with black fronds, quite striking! 

Another factor that makes Chicoreus  so interesting are the the fronds on each varicy.  Sometimes short, sometime long, and sometimes fanned out.  Chicoreus brunneus varies too in adult size from under two inches to giant and now scarce specimens of four inches.

Murex are predators and can be found in any waters where there is an abundance of food.

These three beautiful specimens were obtained from a Philippine dealer. At first glance they may appear identical but further examination will reveal differences.  Sizewise they are on the smaller range, about two and a quarter inches, which seems to be what is most often seen nowadays.  Donated by Richard Kent