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Cowry "diet" and shelling is out of my league


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Posted by Andy S on March 21, 2006 at 22:18:07:

In Reply to: Pretty cool Cowry Selection posted by seahunt on March 21, 2006 at 13:46:03:

The chestnut cowry is amazingly omnivorous and hardy. It appears to eat anything (vegetable or animal) that won’t get out of its way. They eat urchins, anemones, mussels (once someone has opened them,) algae, etc and any bits of food on the bottom that the other critters haven't eaten. If it dies in my tank, there will be a “pig pile” of cowries and baby keyhole limpets on it by the next day. Of all the critters in my aquarium, the cowries appear to be the most hardy – they just don’t die.

And thanks for the nice words about the shells but I am a novice when it comes to shells and certainly not in a position to give much guidance. As I said, I just put the picture of those shells in to show some of the variations I’ve got living in my aquarium for “visual effect” as I don’t do underwater pictures with our trip reports.

There are some real excellent guides out there to local shells from true experts. Dr. Jim McLean at the LA Natural History Museum has a great monograph called “Marine Shells of Southern California”. It is out of print but you can get used copies from Amazon etc for probably less than $15.00 and I understand he is going to be publishing an updated edition. Hopefully with color pictures. There are also a large number of excellent resources via the web on Cypraea etc. I am less than a novice compared to these folks so I’ll leave any instruction up to the experts here.

Indeed, one of my boat partners, “Sheller” is a true World Class shell collector who has held/holds any number of world records including that for the largest Latiaxis oldroydi found right here in SM Bay while lobster diving 4 years ago. He comes up with a bag of bugs that he unceremoniously dumps into the corner of the boat and is all excited about this dark lump of spongy looking stuff he was holding. We thought he was just having another senior moment but it turned out the dark stuff was a thin layer of sponge on the Latiaxis which when cleaned off revealed the animal in perfect condition and “huge” at 61.5 mm, some 10% bigger than the previous world record. What underwater artifacts are to Swami Pat Smith, shells are to “Sheller”. Me, I just go diving, relax and try to put up with my unruly boat crew - now that statement will get me in touble...

Best - Andy



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