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Peter Clarkson famous Cypraea collector killed by sharks.

The shell world is devastated by the loss of Peter Clarkson.  February 15 he passed away in horror after a brutal attack by two great whites!  Clarkson was the co author of the for all of us famous book Australia’s Spectacular Cowries. He was a very renowned Zoila diver and instrumental in the knowledge in Australian cowries we have today.

I hope all of us will not take it for granted anymore to be able to buy nice Zoila just like that. They sometimes come with a price. A very high price! The life of a good man! Let us all take a minute to pray for the family, close friends and admirers he is leaving behind.

I have never had the pleasure and honor of meeting Peter Clarkson in person. I’d wish I had. But one of my close friends has known him very well and said it was a privilege to have known such an honest, straight forward and great person. “There are very few of his kind,” he told me.

Peter Clarkson died while doing what he loved the most: diving for shells and being in the ocean. Let us remember him every time we look at his wonderful book or at one of our Zoila!

Submitted by Willy Van Damme of Belgium, a leading seller of rare cypraea.

Additional information: The Australian press stated, “It has been reported that the diver was returning to the surface … when two sharks, believed to be great whites, have grabbed him.” The shark attack occurred, near Perforated Island, about 25km from Coffin Bay. Clarkson was a commercial abalone diver.

Shell of the Month April 2011

In honor of Easter, the April Shell of the Month is the Egg Cowrie, Ovula ovum, Linne 1758 along with its sister shell, the Elongated Egg Cowrie, also known at the Spindle Shell, Volva volva, Linne 1758.  Side by side they certainly make for an odd couple!

These are members of the family Ovulidae and are closely related to Cypraea.  Although this is a fairly large family, the majority of the specie are small shells with many under 10mm in size. The ovum and the volva are clearly the giants of the clan.

Ovula Ovum is a porcelan white shell that has a great range in size, from 32mm all the way up to 120mm. Our specimen is on the smaller end.  The animal is black with a mantle that fully covers the shell. It is at home in corals and soft corals throughout the Indo-Pacific range.  This specimen was found grazing on soft corals in near Port Moresby, New Guinea

Volva volva has an even greater size range running up to a whopping 186mm. Volva volva although normally white will sometimes be found in rose, pink or even a pale purple shade. The extremities are drawn out into long canals and the shape too is variable. Our specimen is large in size, typical in shape and color. Its mantle is white with long tan to brown papillae ringed with a darker shade. Our specimen comes from a coastal reef off Negros Island in the Philippines.  Both shells were donated by Richard Kent

Shell of the Month February 2011

This set of Heart Cockles is most appropriate for February Shell of the Month as we honor St. Valentine. Corculum cardissa, Linné 1758, is a most unusual bivalve. It’s anatomy is rotated ninety degrees. The valves open down the center rather than at the sides.
Corculum live in sandy bottom where sea grasses grow, often in dense colonies. They attach themselves to the sand with a byssus thread. They are most prevalent in the offshore waters of Cebu, Philippines, but range north to Malaysia.
Splitters divide this shell into multiple species. “Shells of the Philippines” by Springsteen and Leobrera site 5 different specie but admit they might be “morphophenotypes of a single taxon.”
Heart cockles are attractive shells, coming in a variety of delicate pastels, often solid, sometimes speckled, with pale yellow to white being most common with orange, pink and lavender harder to come by. They are seeming endless in variety of heart shapes. Average size is about 40mm but they come smaller and rarely from 55 to 65mm. The heart shells in this set range in size from about 35 to 55mm. The top left and top right are often sold as Corculum impressum, Lightfoot 1786. All came from off the coast of Cebu and were collected in 2010.

Shell of the Month January 2011

Set of seven Terebra, from left to right

Terebra areolata, Link 1807 off shore shallow water in sand Nha Trang, Viet Nam

Terebra dimidiata, Linné 1758 20′ in sand  Nago Bay, Okinawa 1985

Terebra pertusa, Born 1778 diver 7-10m  Olango Island, Cebu, Philippines 2008

Terebra crenulata, Linné 1758 40′ in sand night SCUBA Tuamotus, French Polynesia 2000

Terebra nebulosa, Sowerby, 1825 diver 7-10m Olango Island, Cebu, Philippines 2008

Terebra, subulata, Linné 1767 in sand at night Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Terebra guttata, Roding, 1798 15-10m inside reef by diver Balayon Bay Batangas, Philippines 2007

Terebra are closely related to Conus and Turris. They all have a poison apparatus to kill their prey. Terebra feed mainly marine worms. Terebra live worldwide, with most species in the Indo-Pacific region.  Terebra is one of four genera in Terebridae, the others being Hastula, Duplicaria and Impages.  Many of the smaller species are near impossible to identify. The largest specimen presented in this group just over 5″ and the smallest is 2 1/2″. Terebra maculata, LInné 1758, not offered here is far and away the largest growing Terebra reaching a size of 10″. In Florida we have Terebra taurinus, Lightfoot 1786 which grows to 5″ and Terebra floridanus, Dall, 1889 which grows to 3″ plus several dozen much smaller species.

Shell of the Month November 2010

Cypraea aurantium, Gmelin 1791. In the  Fiji and Solomon Islands the Golden Cowrie is a symbol of power and rank for chieftains. Until recently it was considered very rare. Then its habitat was discovered and now reaches the market in sufficient numbers. The cowrie lives in deep water inside of caves which explains why beached specimens are seldom seen. When Philippine divers first learned where to find the golden cowrie they kept the habitat and locations secret to preserve the value. Until recently very few specimens came with data. Although available now to collectors, gem quality specimens are extremely rare. Something in the growth cycle cause stress marks as the animal reaches maturity and virtually every specimen has a few growth lines, often making the shell ugly.  Our specimen, while not a gem is has minimal growth lines that do not distract. The specimen is from the collection of Richard Kent.

Cypraea aurantium, Gmelin 1791, Collected under ledge inside cave by hookah diver at 25 to 30 meters deep, night time, off Prieto Diaz, Albay Gulf. Philippines 2006. Size about 3 1/2″ or 90mm