Posted: Jan 15 2007
Propustularia surinamensis (G. Perry, 1811) Suriname cowrie
P. surinamensis is a rare shell throughout its range. However, in Florida it is one of the rarest of all. P. surinamensis is a deep water species most frequently making it to the market place from Brazil where it is retrieved from fish stomachs. In Florida the only known, confirmed live collected specimens I’ve been able to identify were collected by Tom and Paula Honker. Tom collected a dead specimen around 1967 on the outside of the reef off Ocean Ridge, Boynton Beach, in 70 ft. of water and a live specimen off Boca Raton at 60 ft. in October of 1983. This specimen survived very shortly in Tom’s aquarium. News of this shell was first published in Hawaiian Shell News, New Series No. 297 -- September, 1984 by Mr. Francisco Blanco. Tom and his wife Paula often dive together. In 1990 Paula found another P. surinamensis off Boca Raton. Tom reports that he’d heard, but could not confirm, that David Akers found a live specimen off Boynton Beach (Ocean Ridge) probably in 130-170 ft. of water in the early 1970s or late 60’s. Harry Lee reports that Ted Yocius dredged a P. surinamensis off east Florida in the early to mid-1970's.
An inquiry on Conch-L resulted in the following responses regarding P. surinamensis collected in Florida waters:
On 1-24-07 Wayne Harland wrote, "I have collected 2 specimens of Propustularia surinamensis in Florida. Both came from 65' of water off Boca Raton. One was live taken and the other was crabbed. I collected the dead one in 1984 and the live one in 1989. I have heard of other live specimens being taken from as far north as Palm Beach (Harold Gordon) in the early 1980's." On 1-28-07 Wayne added, "The live specimen was found diving on rubble piles on a live reef structure. As I remember, it was found by turning rocks. I originally thought that it was C. spurca acicularis. It was found in the daytime. This is an exceedingly rare specimen -- I have dived this locale and similar ones 1000+ times over a 20 yr period and these were the only ones I ever found."
On 1-25-07 Mike Gray responded to Wayne's post and wrote, "I have what I believe are the same species, from the same location, all collected dead, in the middle and late 90's. Having been told that is impossible, I never again mentioned it."
Marlo: At this point (Jan 2007), the only known photos of a live-collected P. surinamensis from Florida that I have been able to locate are the following two photos of the specimen Tom Honker collected in 1983.
Black and white Photo - Blanco & Honker
The adjacent color image is a scan provided by Tom
Honker of a print photo of the specimen collected
in 1983. Thanks to Tom for his efforts providing
For more information, see Propustularia surinamensis at the Cowrie Genetic Database Project , currently (March 2008) maintained in the Invertebrate Department at the Florida Museum of Natural History located at the University of Florida in Gainesville.