Today as I begin to get ready to go diving in Curacao in a couple of weeks, I pulled up my manuscript of the E-shells of the Caribbean that I have been putting off finishing while I worked on marketing my Civil War book, “Rough Enough.” Can’t let the old classification stuff get rusty! Boy it’s amazing how quickly the list of things to still complete seems to multiply every time I take one last look through the book. Of course part of this is because as an interactive smart-book, which allows you to jump back and forth and from one key to another, it is beginning to be a morass of little buttons or highlights that all have to work properly in order for the book to be as completely useful to the biologist, collector, malacologist or week-end explorer, as it can possibly be. It’s a challenge and I think I may float a draft in a couple of weeks just before I head for the Caribbean and then see if there are any glitches picked up by a select group of users. Then I can do repairs and get it online for the world.
Below you can see the underside of a great West Indian Top Shell showing the deep umbilicus and the typical black or deep brown blotches so typical of this shell. Note the pretty red dots; they are encrusting coral and not a part of the shell itself. This particular shell used to be a major food item on many of the islands in the Caribbean. These top shells has been cleaned out by over zealous hunters in many places and so are now rare on some islands, but giant piles of shells (middens) can be found where these shells were harvested for the meat. This particular shell came from a heap on the West coast of Aruba in the Netherlands Antilles. My largest shell of this type came from the South West beaches of Barbados where it had been thrown high up by a storm.