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Posted: Sep 3 2010, 08:55 AM
Member No.: 2
Joined: 12-November 05
The initial general discussion began in response to my request for help on Conch-L identifying a Cone from north Lake Worth, Palm Beach County, Florida and presentations of Conus pealii Green, 1830 and Conus stearnsii Conrad, 1869 , and eventually Conus jaspideus Gmelin, 1791 . As usual the discussion quickly went off in several directions, mostly related to differing species in the "Jaspideus Complex." One of the directions (the possibility of C. stearnsii occuring off North Carolina) had its genesis with an email from Bill Fenzan (8/24):
“You have put together an interesting article on these puzzling small cones that keeps getting better. It is surprising that we know so little about cones that are found in so many collections. Some additional questions and comment:
In Seashells of North Carolina by Hugh J. Porter & Lynn Houser, the authors report the collection (by SCUBA divers on a sandy bottom at 65 feet) of Conus stearnsi Conrad. The single black & white photo in the book looks like a specimen I would expect to find off the west coast of Florida. Despite the small distance from where I live to North Carolina, I have not visited many collections with documented material from North Carolina. It would be interesting to compare these specimens with those of other areas to see more of the picture.
I hope your study will encourage others to report more information.” (I hope so too.)
I responded to Bill in part with:
“That’s a lot of information to deal with and it’s five minutes to quitting time. So, just a few comments.
There are two NC sources I can check with. Gastropods Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach, NC (Harry has worked with Jo for her presentation of mollusks).”
Bill investigated the link to O’Keefe’s webpage on North Carolina Mollusks and commented:
“The NC website in your e-mail seems to be limited to materials picked up intertidally. The information in Seashells of North Carolina only records habitat for the Conus stearnsi Conrad listing as: "Collected by scuba divers on sandy bottom at 65-foot depth." It could be that only divers have found material in North Carolina. Perhaps a posting to CONCH-L will encourage someone in North Carolina with more information to join the discussion?”
To which I replied:
“You are correct, but then anything can wash ashore and that would at least indicate it was there. You can try Conch-L. I think they may be tired of hearing from me. I did write the NC Shell Club to see if anyone there can help.
I note that Malacolog lists 712 species with distribution records in North Carolina; but not C. stearnsii.
I note that the NC Museum of Natural history has only one C. stearnsii in their collection – from Monroe Co., FL.”
So, while I was searching elsewhere regarding separate confirmation of C. stearnsii off North Carolina as reported by Porter & Houser in Seashells of North Carolina, Bill posted the following inquiry on Conch-L:
8/25/10 “In the book Seashells of North Carolina, Hugh Porter and Lynn Houser report Conus stearnsii Conrad, 1869 as having been collected by scuba divers on (a) sandy bottom at (a) 65-foot depth. Is there anyone on the list who can confirm this or help me contact either of the authors? I am trying to find good photos of these cones to see how they differ from specimens collected off the Florida coast.
The book indicates there may be voucher specimens of species treated in the collection of the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences collection, but it is not clear whether or not a voucher of this species is there.”
While Bill was posting to Conch-L and contacting others directly, I sent an inquiry to the Secretary of the North Carolina Shell Club:
“I administer Let's Talk Seashells. We’ve been discussing a group of shells known as the Jaspideus complex of which Conus stearnsii is a member.
The question has come up regarding the report by Hugh J. Porter & Lynn Houser, authors of Seashells of North Carolina, of C. stearnsii taken off NC by SCUBA divers at 65 feet. We’re trying to ascertain if anyone with first-hand experience has indeed collected this shell off NC. Per chance would you know or can you canvas the club members?”
The following correspondences are the responses to Bill’s and my inquiries:
8/25 Lyle Therriault, a Cone enthusiast from North Carolina:
“Personally I have never seen nor collected them here in NC. I mentioned to Marlo that I was suspect as to the ID of this cone.
Since they typically favor very shallow water, one would expect to find them in the flats.
Perhaps I will search for some soon.....will let you know if I find any, dead or alive.”
8/25 Vicky Wall, Secretary NC Shell Club:
I will check with Karlynn Morgan, Mark Johnson and Doug Wolfe to see if they can help. We do have some interesting species offshore that normally one wouldn't expect to see off NC.
8/25 Everett Long (firstname.lastname@example.org), a North Carolina collector, provided Bill the following information:
“You can contact Hugh Porter at 252-726-4265. I would contact the keeper of Dr. Porter’s collection at NCSU. Dr. Arthur Bogan could tell you if the shells are in the collection and maybe a picture. You can contact him at 919-462-0815 ( H) or email@example.com.”
8/25 In separate email Everett Long reported:
I have never picked up this shell anywhere in NC except one speciman from the NC shell pile back in th 80's. No telling where it came from since our boats would go off the Fla coast at times. I talked to a couple this morning, but they also had nothing."
8/26 Mark Johnson:
I'm sorry, but I do not have any jaspideus-type shells from off NC. The only similiar cone that I have collected from off NC is C. largillierti, of which I have only one dead-collected, small specimen.”
8/26 Marc Nathanson, a diver who collects off North Carolina reported to Bill that:
- He has not collected C. stearnsii, or any small cones that could be mistaken for it from off North Carolina. He has collected C. stearnsii off West Florida, though, so he knows what it looks like.
- The cones he has collected were all from an area where the gulf stream current comes near to shore. This is an area of warm water where a rich mixture of species has collected around the shipwrecks at 85-120 feet (deeper than the 65 feet mentioned in the book).
- Most of the warm-water species he has collected (~80%) came from the wrecks themselves, the remaining (~20%) examples came from the coral rubble bottom near the wrecks. This does not sound like the "sandy bottom" mentioned in the book.
- Water outside the gulf stream is green, colder and supports different species - none of which are cones.
8/27 Leslie Crnkovic (Texas):
"I have found members of the stearnsi complex in deeper environments off Texas and in Honduras. So I'm not surprsed they are found of NC, given the flow of the Gulf Stream."
8/27 Vicky Wall, Mayodan, North Carolina, after seeing Les' comment, expressed a rationale for a possibility:
"After my recent trip to Hawaii, I have discovered that I have to take locality information with a grain of salt. I can't remember the species name at this moment but I found a live cone in about 6 feet of water with book information giving it's habitat as 65-80 feet.
NC is lucky to have the Gulf Stream off the coast...with SCUBA and also after storms, we often get species more common to areas further south. The many shipwrecks (accidental and artificial reefs) provide great habitat for mollusks."
Bill also sent the following inquiry to Dr. Arthur E. Bogan Ph.D. Research Curator of Aquatic Invertebrates North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences regarding the report in the Porter and Houser book:
“The book indicates there may be voucher specimens in the collection of the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences collection, but it is not clear whether or not a voucher of this species (Conus stearnsii) is there.
Can you tell me if this specimen is in the collection? If it is, can you provide more information (better photographs, more details about where the shell was collected, are there more than one specimen in the lot, etc.) about the occurrence of this species than is available in the book? I am unable to find any other records for the collection of this species off the coast of North Carolina. Do you know of any?”
8/27 Dr. Bogan replied:
“I checked the volume by Porter 1974 the atlas of marine and estuarine mollusca and he did not list specimens in the collection. I have double checked both the alcohol and dry collections and found no specimens from NC. We have Hugh Porter’s collection and are updating the taxonomy as we have time and adding it to our computerized database.
Alan Kohn has been working through our cones for a paper he is working on. If you have further questions about this species you might want to contact him at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Good luck and thank you for your interest.”
8/27 Based upon Dr. Bogan’s reply and the lack of any confirmations up to this point, Bill commented:
“This looks like no confirmation of C. stearnsii from North Carolina. Looks like a dead end, unless Alan has some information.”
8/26 John Tucker reported his statistical analysis of the Jaspideus Complex shells in his collection (555 specimens he classified as Jaspideus complex shells). It included a significant sample of Florida shells. He interpreted his findings in part as they applied to the possibility that a single shell identified as Conus stearnsii from North Carolina might indeed be this species. He concluded, “It is my opinion that J. j. stearnsi is restricted to Florida's Gulf Coast.” “So it is folly to try to say that one North Carolinian shell is a Jaspidiconus stearnsi.”
CLICK HERE to read John’s entire analysis and discussion.
MORE TO COME - Maybe?