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

SHELL OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2019

   Dove shells have long been popular among crafters. In fact, they have been strung as beads as far back as ancient history. They are a standard in Sailor’s Valentines and due to their abundance used as filler on shell vases and mirrors. They can also be found cascading in shell mobiles.
   Dove shells live in huge colonies on rocky shorelines at the tideline and are easily collected. They are small in size, not quite 1/2″. They are found throughout the Indo-Pacific region in tropical waters.
   Known in the trade as Nassa columbella, the proper name is Pictocolumbella ocellata (Link, 1807). They are called Lightning Dove Shells in spite of their Latin name. The lightning stripe is one of three patterns, one being white dots on a black background and the other white bands on a black background. The shells may also be deep dark red instead of black.
    There is a good chance when sorting through the bag of shells that other similar shells are mixed in as there are dozens of species that share similar habits.
    These shells were purchased especially for the August raffle table and are donated by Richard Kent. Supposedly there are 1000 shells in the zip lock. We are hoping the winner will share with the club photos of their creations.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – JULY 2019

Mauritia mauritania Linn, 1758 is an impressive unmistakable cowry. It grows to over four inches and is decidedly a heavyweight.
It is a member of the Arabian complex although it hardly resembles its siblings. Mauritania is the only specie in the group with a solid color base and a dorsum that lacks all over fine reticuations. Its flanged callus is distinctive as is its tall hump.
Mauritania is brown to black/brown in color on both base and dorsum. The dorsum has large irregular white spots that vary in number with the very rare specimen virtually lacking in spots. Hawaiian specimens are as a rule darker in color than the more readily available Philippine ones. Dwarf specimens are found in the Andaman Sea.
Mauritania has a very wide distribution across the Indo Pacific region but apparently only lives in areas of high surf pounding against a vertical wall. It is nocturnal. In Hawaii it is associated with lava. Although not scarce its habitat makes it difficult to collect and due to the rough surf many specimens have scratches and dings. A true gem from Hawaii is scarce.
This specimen came from the small island of Lanai that sees little collection. It was collected this January and has a gorgeous glassy surface. It is a real treasure. Donated by Richard Kent and obtained from the diver who found it.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – JUNE 2019

Tellina Foliacea Linne, 1758
netted burrowed in sand at 30 meters deep
Bantayan, Phillipines 2018

The genus Tellina is a widely distributed marine mollusc and a member of the family Tellinida. Tellins are filter feeding bivalves that inhabit tropical waters around the world. They are edible. All together there are about one hundred species, most of which are rather bland, solid whitish in color. Tellina Foliacea Linne, 1758 is one of the few exceptions with its bright uniform orange color.
One of the most beautiful bivalves is Tellina radiata Linne, 1758 which comes from the Caribbean Sea. It is called the Sunrise Tellin because of its colorful radiating bands of purple on a yellow and whitish shell. Unfortunately it is rather hard to come by recently. Large specimens over three inches are impressive.
Here in Florida we have Tellina lineata W. Truton,1819, the Rose Colored Tellin, which is a shell crafters favorite. It is white with rose color overtones and often about an inch and a half in size.. It can be found burrowed in sand bars at low tide in the Keys and on both coasts. Halves often wash up on shore.
The most commonly available Tellin is Tellina virgata Linne, 1758, a Philippine shell widely wholesaled for shell crafting. It is similar to the Sunrise Tellin but the bands lacks the colorful yellows.
We are offering in this raffle a half dozen pairs of Tellina foliacea, large in size of about 3″. They are very fresh specimens, collected by native divers in 2018. Donated by Richard Kent and recently obtained from a Philippine dealer. Tellina foliacea is not an easy shell to obtain, making this a very desirable raffle to win, whether the shells are won by specimen collectors or shell crafters.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – MAY 2019

Trona stercoraria (Linnaeus, 1758) by diver at night, low tide in seaweed at 3 meters, M’bour, Senegal
Trona stercoraria (Linnaeus, 1758) dwarf. by diver on rocks at 10 meters, Gulf of Guinae, Limbe, Cameroon

Trona stercoraria (Linnaeus, 1758) is a popular cowrie among collectors due to its extreme variability in size, shape, color and even pattern. Its common name the Rat Cowry or Droppings Cowry. Certain populations have overcastings that make for bizarre specimens which may look as if they were infected by disease (and possibly they are). These are common in some locations.
Even with all the variation stercoraria is easily recognized and can’t be confused with any other cypraea. Its coloration could be considered drab (mousy, hence the name Rat). It is certainly not flashy. Typical specimens have a mocha colored base with dark brown chiseled teeth. The dorsum is similar in color and covered with blurred brown blotches. Some specimens are light, others dark in color. Scarce specimens have a largely clear dorsum, others with an irregular pattern while the occasional one has the blotches fused to almost sold and even scarcer almost black. The margins are calloused and both extremities are rostrate. Sizes run from extreme dwarfs of 1″ to giants of about 3.75”. The majority fall between 2 and 2.5″. While typically rhomboid, sone specimens are oval.
There are populations with an extreme hump that were named Trona stercoraria rattus (Lamarck, 1810). Linnaeus call the dwarfs “minima”. Even with all the variation the vast majority have the patterns and shape of the two offered here.
Trona stercoraria is a West African cowry with a restricted range below the Bulge of Africa. Most specimens come from the Gulf of Guinea. It is fairly common in this area and lives in a variety of shallow water habitats.
The two shells were donated by Richard Kent and were obtained from European dealers. Average sized specimens retail for $20-25, dwarfs though much scarcer somewhat less. Large ones go for over $30. Giants and unusual specimens can be found on eBay from $60 to over $300. In fact there is one very dark 95mm specimen with blueish borders listed for sale at $520!