CONUS - CARIBBEAN
Several small to medium sized species adorn the reefs and sea bottoms of this area. Some are among the most coveted by shell enthusiasts. Here I have secelcted some of my favorite species, and best specimens in my collection. Unfortunately, most are F+ only, because they all share their habitats with crabs and sedimentary coral. Some species are also very expensive, therefore one has to find a balance between price and quality.
Conus aurantius Hwass, 1792
56.6mm. Curaçao. Dived in reef at 8-12mts.
These rare shells come in a range of warm colors; from golden yellow, to reddish brown, to almost black, always with the same "holstein cow" pattern. The depicted shell is bright orange, and quite large for its condition. It bears a large but discreet ventral scar, common in this species, which is attacked by reef crabs.
Conus cardinalis Hwass, 1792
32.2mm. Roatan Is. Honduras. Dived in 40ft. by R. Massino.
This is in fact a very confusing clade, because there is virtually a different form for each west Caribbean Island.
The depicted shell represents the kulkulcan form, described by Petuch in 1980. This is large and bright cherry red, which is very desirable, although the shell comes in attractive shades of pink and green as well.
Conus cedonulli Linnaeus, 1767
63.8mm.Young Is. St. Vincent. Dived in 6mts. by M. Coltro.
The matchless cone: Despite the spire erosion, this is an exquisite example from the type locality. The size is quite outstanding and the color scheme is superb: dark orange with bluish gray maps, decorated by spiral dots and dashes, that give the shell a granulated texture, that is evident in the edge of its thick adult lip. This is one of my favorite shells!
(Petuch & Bersschauer, 2015)
49.2mm. Aruba. Dived in 8ft. In sandy bottom.
I got this shell many years ago and was very happy of that acqisition; I could not believe the massive size combined with good condition and exquisite dark brown pattern. Back then this species was hidden in Conus curassaviensis Hwass, 1792, a smaller species from the same area.
Conus mappa Lightfoot, 1786
55.2mm. Tobago. Dived in 90ft. at night.
This endemic Tobago species has always delighted me with its small and elegant, well defined cedonulli patterns in cream, on ochre background, and interrupted ribbons of fine black dots and granulations.
This particular specimen is unusually orange, rather than greenish yellow. The dorsal display is just superb.
Conus spurius Gmelin, 1791
64mm. Guajira, Colombia. Trawled in 60-70mts.
This species is extremely variable in size, shape and color!
The depicted shell is the first shell I ever bought online, back in 2003. It represents the form baylei Jousseaume, 1872, common in the lower Caribbean, specially in black like this one. Shells also come in orange and golden yellow. This shell is of average size, but displays top condition.