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.

February Meeting

Title: Ecological interactions between marine macrophytes and small invertebrate epifauna in tropical shallow coastal systems

Synopsis: Marine macrophytes form biogenic habitats that maintain the biodiversity of marine coastal systems, especially for small invertebrate epifauna that maintain essential ecosystem functions. These macrophyte-invertebrate interactions are prevalent in shallow coastal systems, including subtidal seagrass beds and intertidal sandy beaches. These shallow coastal systems are also challenged with periodic influxes of pelagic Sargassum, a region-wide issue affecting much of the Caribbean, including South Florida, since 2011. Though these Sargassum influxes occur periodically, we know very little about how these influxes affect the local macrophyte and invertebrate epifaunal communities. This upcoming meeting will provide an update on research related to macrophyte-invertebrate interactions in shallow coastal systems. Current findings of ongoing research and further opportunities of investigation, particularly with effects of Sargassum influxes, will be discussed. 

Biography: Lowell Andrew Iporac is a Ph.D Candidate at Florida International University’s (FIU) Biology Doctoral Program. Lowell obtained his B.A. in Biology from California State University, San Bernardino, where he completed four different undergraduate projects. Among those four research projects, it was an internship at Shannon Point Marine Center that sparked his interest in marine biology. Upon moving to FIU, he joined the Marine Macroalgae Research Lab (MMRL) with Dr. Ligia Collado-Vides in 2016. When not doing his research, Lowell likes snorkeling, diving, hiking, and playing with his Nintendo Switch. 

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

Black Water Diving by Linda Ianniello. 


Back by Popular Demand

You asked and Linda answered yes. Linda Ianniello gave us a magnificent program on Black Water Diving in May of 2017 and you wanted more. 

What is Black Water Diving you ask? A group of divers go out in the dark of the night and dive over 500 feet of water where the largest daily migration takes place. Small sea creatuures come from the depths to feed closer to the surface and the underwater photographers are waiting. In a holding formation 40 feet deep and drifting with the currents, the photographers take photos of minute sea creatures that come to the surface. Tiny veligers of shrimp, lobster, fish and mollusks. Most under half an inch.  Linda has a new program and I guarantee you will be awed at the photography and the beautiful creatures captured by her camera. 

Since she was here last, Linda, along with her dive buddy Susan Mears has written a book Black Water Creatures. She will have a few copies of her book with her to sell.  

Please join us for an unforgettable program 

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

July Program

Caitlin Shea-Vantine is a second year Masters student working under Dr. Stephen Kajiura at Florida Atlantic University on the Boca Raton campus. Caitlin attended undergrad at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, VT and previously held positions at the University of Georgia Aquarium in Savannah, GA and the Northeastern Marine Science Center (Nahant, MA). She is very passionate about conservation and getting young girls interested in STEM.

Caitlin will be talking about the Stingray’s in our Waters. She will give an overview of they types of Stingrays to be found here, how they use their defense system and how dangerous they are to humans. Caitlin works with Stephen Kajiura, the shark expert at FAU and the photo is of her helping tag a shark to then monitor where it goes.

Program for June Meeting

This month’s program will be Carole Marshall. The title of her program is “So You Think You Want to Write a Shell Book?” Carole has been writing a shell book on the “Seashells of Peanut Island and the Lake Worth Lagoon”, for about 12 years now and she still isn’t finished. This is a humorous tongue in cheek, informative program on the things she has learned along the way and why she still isn’t finished. There is also a lot of good information for anyone who is interested in learning about mollusks, web sites that are important for everyone to know and how technology has changed Malacology in the last 12 years. There will be a hand out on important web sites as well.

Carole has always been interested in Natural History, collecting fresh water snails along the Rock River in Wisconsin as a child, majoring in Science in High School and later learning about sea shells. Her mother started collecting shells on trips to Ft. Myers Beach in the 1960’s and Carole soon realized how many interesting stories came with the shells. At a small club she gave a talk on shells to the group during hobby night when a woman came and asked her if she would be interested in joining the Chicago Shell Club. (Her response was “They HAVE CLUBS for People who Collect Shells?) For several years Carole and her parents, John and Lorraine Landers made the trip to the city (Chicago) from the suburbs. Shortly after 1969, when her parents moved to Ft. Myers, Carole and family moved to the West Palm Beach area in 1970.
Although she swears it was extreme mental incapacity that made her do it, Carole has been President of 3 different Shell Clubs. She has written many small articles for the clubs, COA magazine and for Of Sea and Shore Magazine as well as having given talks at Jamborees, COA Conventions, at the American Malacological Society, Florida United Malacologists meetings and for many local groups and organizations. She loves to teach about shells and finds the stories about shell use from ancient times to their uses today, of endless fascination.
Carole also discovered that the stories she loves about shells, can also be found on coins and paper money and Carole has an extensive collection of paper money, coins from ancient to modern, other exonumia, poker chips, medals and trade tokens.
Hopefully you will come to the meeting, be amused, laugh a little and learn.

SHELL OF THE MONTH – FEBRUARY 2019

Cypraea pulchella (Swainson, 18230, Mergui Archipelago, trawled 100 meeters by fishing boats, Andaman Sea, Myanmar
Cypraea pulchella (Swainson, 18230, trawled by commercial fishing boats @100-150Meters off Hainan Island, South China Sea, China

Not only is Cypraea pulchella (Swainson, 1823) one of the most sought after cowries, it is also one of the most distinctive. Its deep brown teeth that extend across the base make it impossible to confuse with any other. The common name for this elegantly pyriform shell is the Pretty Cowrie and pretty it is.
The dorsum is pale, faintly mottled with light brown and typically has a large dark chocolate colored blotch on both the right and left side of the dorum, but not always. Less attractive specimens have the blotch on only one side or the other. The most interesting specimens have multiple blotches or one huge one in the center and they bring the highest prices. The occasional specimen has no blotch at all! (specimen #2 in our raffle). Normal size is between 35-45mm. Shells retail in the $15-25 range and two to three times that for the exceptional spectacular specimen.
Originally the north-western Indian Ocean variety, Cypraea pericalles (Melvill & Standen, 1904) was a distinct specie, separate from the more common Pacific one, but recently Cypraea pericalles has been downgraded into a subspecies. When the names were first described there was a gap in the range, but this was due to the nonexistence of shelling in Burma and Thailand. Specimens that come from the Andaman Sea (this area) often appear to be an intermediate of the two, but are usually sold as pericalles. The difference is that the original pericalles has shorter teeth, is less callus, and is of smaller average size, with a less pronounced blotch. Possibly the two subspecies fully intergrade.
Cypraea pulchella favors deep water, is variable in size and pattern and is widespread though uncommon in distribution. Most specimens on the market come form the Philippines, South China and Thailand. There are two other distinct subspecies, one unique to the southern Philippines and the other quite rare from New Guinea. The true pericalles from the west coast of India is currently very difficult to obtain.
Today with revisions of nomenclature the proper name is Ficadusta pulchella (Swainson, 1823). For old time collectors these revisions in Cypraea are hard to accept.
Donated from the collection of Richard Kent.

February Program

Our Program for February is Dr. Thomas Annesley,

Thomas Annesley is “Active Professor Emeritus” at the University of Michigan and Deputy Editor of the journal Clinical Chemistry. He has always had an interest in oceanography and spent summers in California, where his uncle dropped Tom off at the coastal tidepools on his way to work and the picked Tom up on his way home.

Tom has been listed in Who’s Who in Medicine Academia, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, and Who’s Who in America. He has published more than 200 articles and presented more than 175 invited lectures in 10 countries.

At the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Tom does public lectures, beach walks and the live tank talks. He is also President of the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club.

The title of his talk is “Cone Snails, Tennis Rackets, Pain Medications, and the Broward Shell Show”

Tom’s presentation will focus on scientific discoveries involving cone snails and their toxins. But as with many advances in science, there are elements of luck, happenstance, intrigue, mistakes, and creating lemonade out of lemons that contribute to the story. Dr. Annesley will show us how the supposedly unrelated topics of tennis, pain medications, and even the Broward Shell Show fit into the story of cone snails.