National Geographic : 1969 Mar
The pristine finish of the cones in their fa mous textile and parchment patterns lay be neath abrownish skin called the periostracum. Back on shore, I transferred the catch to a battery of aerated sea-water aquariums I had set up in my workroom. At first the creatures seemed hesitant in their new surroundings. Then as I watched, a stromb cautiously ex tended its stalked eyes for a look around (page 395 top), and a cone began to move tentatively over the sandy bottom. A friend, Professor Jose Domantay, a ma rine biologist retired in Zamboanga, suggested a place where I might photograph gastropods in their natural habitat. He described a sand bar on a nearby island that was a favored haunt of the beautiful bat volute, Aulica vespertilio. "Volutes spend much of their time in the sand," he said, "but if you can be there during the last half hour of an ebbing tide, you'll possibly find some." A day later I was on that bar, wading through clear, shin-deep water, alert for tracks on the ripply bottom. During their brief emer gences from the sand, volutes leave a telltale trail an inch or so wide and as much as twenty feet long, stopping abruptly where the animal has dug in again. Having found a track and its Precious gems of the animal world IKE JEWELS, shells vary in value depend ing on supply, demand, and condition. Beyond price, the King Midas' slit shell was lifted from 2,000-foot depths during research in the Bahamas. The long notch serves as an opening for the gills. Differing from 14 other species of slits, it earned a new name, Perotrochus midas, and now graces the Smithsonian's collection. One of three Cypraea leucodon in collec tions, this spotted cowrie was found in the stomach of a fish caught in the Philippines. Dealers value the shell, owned by Mr. du Pont, at $3,000. Rare in the 17th century, the precious wentletrap fell in value when collectors found scores in the Pacific. Specimens that once sold for hundreds of dollars now bring only about $4. The shell's name derives from the Dutch for "spiral staircase." Beauty and scarcity give value to Conus gloriamaris.This specimen, one of 70 known, belongs to a Philippine collector. EKTACHROMES BY VICTORR. BOSWELL,JR. (TOP) ANDJOHNE. DU PONT; KODACHROMES (LOWER)BY PAULA. ZAHL © N.G .S.