Black Beauty

Marine images of shellfish are not high on the list of glamorous marine subjects.

True, most shellfish find it hard to capture attention the way sharks, whales, brightly coloured reef fish and any number of other fascinating marine creatures do though there are exceptions.

The first time I came upon a Black Cowry (Zoila friendii) I was captivated by the lustrous dark glossy shell, the gorgeous yellow, orange and red markings and the black velvet mantle.

In South Australia the Black Cowry is not a protected animal and divers may take one per day from the water in unprotected zones.
In my early diving years I dived with a dedicated group of naturalist divers who were infuriated with the taking of these animals and made it their mission to mark the shell by scratching it with a large cross.
Their argument was that defacing the cowry would make it worthless to collectors.

At the time I could see their argument and every time I found a Black Cowry marked with a cross I new it was safe. I always thought though how sad that divers would never see that beautiful black shell in all its glory.

Now that I am passionate about sharing images of our undersea world I am frustrated when I find a marked cowry.
Obviously the practice still continues but they are reasonably common and it is easy to find one or two on an Edithburgh Jetty dive in all their lustrous glory.

Photo: Robert Rath, ‘Black Beauty’, 1/80s f/3.2 ISO320 50mm

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