I have been a lover
of the sea and marine life for as long as I can remember.
I began snorkeling
in 1951 at the age of 12. Then I spent all my free time in the sea collecting
shells, fishing and discovering the marine life.
For the last years,
as I have now again a lot of free time, I use to travel to tropical islands
and seas for new experiences.
I like to share
the experience of my last shelling trip in Palawan.
The reason that
I choosed Palawan is because it is closer to the China Sea and I
was expecting to
find some different shells.
I arrived with my
wife Angelica on 4 April 99 at the airport of Puerto Princesa, the capital
city of Palawan. There waited for us Roger
Van Den Berghe, my friend shell lover and cypraea collector,
the owner of Princessa Holiday Resort. After driving one and a half hour
South to Aborlan we arrived at Princessa Holiday Resort.
The first impression
of the resort was very nice, it is located in a quite bay, has a wide white
beach with nice bungalows.
Even though I was
tired from the travel, I could not resist to walk on the beach a matter
of testing the shelling and beachcombing. And it was good as the tide was
low. I found Oliva
oliva longispira Bridgman, 1906, Terebra sp. live
in the sand.
The next morning
of the resort waited for me early morning. Roger assured me that the Captain,
knows very well the shelling places
and the exact location
for each kind of shell. The destination was Arena Isl. a private island
where PHR can bring their guests for snorkeling, 30 minutes Southbound
from the resort.
When we came close
to Arena Isl. I saw that it is in the middle of a large coral reef and
the waters go deep very smoothly. I realized that it was a very promising
area for shelling.
I asked captain
Litto to begin shelling from a place where I could find Ovula ovum.
So we anchored about
500 m. from the coast in 5-6 m. depth among corals.
I prepared my equipment
and started snorkeling. What a surprise, just 5 m. from the bancas on soft
coral were 2 Ovula
ovum. Roger has any reason to trust Litto's knowledge of
The bottom around
the Isl. is very interesting and variable, in deeper parts it
big corals. To the direction of the Island the bottom is
very variable. There are places with flat rocky bottom and dead corals
under which you can find Cypraea arabica, Isabella, lynx, ovum, vitelus,
etc. and sandy places with sea
weeds and some small
corals and dead corals, that is the place for Cypraea
tigris which I found mostly in the side of corals and among
sea weeds and some times under dead corals. Usually I found Cypraea tigris
by pair, when I found one, I looked around and almost all the times there
was another one. In the same place I
found under dead
corals Conus magus,
miles, striatus etc. Lambis lambis as well as Hippopus
squamosa, and Lima
orientalis which I did not collect. I took only photos.
By digging the sand with palms, among corals, I found in the sand a very
vespertilio. There are also places with a sandy bottom
with lots of sea weeds but with few shells.
The result of the
first shelling day was very
good. The main shell that I found was Cypraea
tigris (as I am Cypraea collector I give greater attention
to collect them)
and there are lots.
They are small in size but very colorful and they show a big variation
of colors from white to very dark.
I continued shelling
for the next two days in areas of Arena Isl. The harvest of shells was
On April 8
I tried to shell in another place. Captain Litto took me to a reef between
Sombrero and Malonao Isl., 40 minutes Northbound from the resort.
It was a large reef
with colorful corals around and a very different surface. Frankly,
I didn't expect
to find many shells there. It is my opinion that the reefs are not good
places for shelling. I found only two Cypraea tigris, some arabica, annulus,
moneta and some others.
The 9th of
April was relax day, on 10th April we went to Malonao
Isl. 15 minutes away from Sobrero Isl. (I didn't try shelling
in this Island as it has a fishing village
and most probably
the shells are collected by the local people).
The Malonao Isl.
is uninhabited as it is covered with mangrove trees. All around the island
(which is much bigger than the Arena Isl.) is a large coral reef and the
waters go deep very smoothly. The bottom has areas with colorful
corals and areas with dead corals under which I found
several Cypraea as arabica, carneola, isabella, talpa
etc. Conus furvus
(pinkish color with lines found only in Palawan), magus,
monachus, omaria, ratus,
etc. and many others. There are no places with sand, sea weeds and small
corals so I found only one Cypraea
tigris. The sea bottom to the direction of the mangroves trees
was very shallow with sea weeds
and it is impossible
to go close.
The next day we
went again to Malonao Isl. but in different coastal area. The shell harvest
was also good just as the previous day.
On April 12 we went
again to Arena Isl. In a place with sand among corals I was digging with
my palms and I found many different species of Terebra.
I found also many shells as usual I tend to say now.
In all places Captain
Litto went snorkeling too and he collected shells for me.
that I collected from Arena Isl. are: Angaria delphinus
coronatus, magus (in several colors and pattern), miles, omaria,
annulus, caputserpentis (only one), eglantina, erones, isabella,
lynx, moneta, ovum,
Tonna dolium (juvenile
(with elevated cords), crassus.
Some species from
other families and many microshells.
that I collected from Malonao Isl. are: Bursa granularis
ebraeus, frigidus, furvus (pinkish color with lines found only in Palawan),
magus, miles, miliaris, monachus, omaria, ratus, scabriusculus.
carneola (small), erones, erosa, isabella, lynx, talpa, tigris (only one),
Mitra retusa and
4 small species that I can't ID.
gibberulus, luhuanus, mutabilis, urseus.
species small ones.
Turbo sp. 20,3 mm.
with white operculum.
Some species from
other families and many microshells.
As life is not only
shelling I have to tell you that I really love the good foods. I can't
close this short article without mentioning that the restaurant
of Princessa Holiday Resort serves delicious food and I must give my congratulations
to the cooks Benni, Roy, Rommel and Tongtong for the excellent and
nice decorated sashimi, tanguigui, the soup from the strombus luhuanus,
the garlic fried meat of Lambis and abalone that we collected as well and
many others local delicious dishes.
I must mention also
all the staff that was so friendly, willing to help and very kind.
Many thanks to Roger
for his kind hospitality.
I left Palawan on
14th April 99 very satisfied with the shells that I collected and with
the best impressions and nice memories.