My dive buddy Andy spotted this extraordinary scene last weekend as we made our way north on the outside of Port Noarlunga Reef.
His odd gestures to me seemed to be asking, ‘did I stage this”, ‘did some other divers before us stage this’, or is there something special about this sponge that made three black cowries all come together like this? In nearly 30 year of diving I have only every seen black cowries on their solitary own.
Back cowries are one of our most beautiful mollusks with their glossy shells often protected by a thin velvety black mantle. Once they were prized by collectors but now the collecting of live shellfish is frowned upon and strongly discouraged. I once dived with with someone who horrified me by taking out his knife and defacing the beautiful shiny shell of any black cowrie he came upon. When I challenged his actions he said, ‘I’m just making sure the collectors don’t poach them’. I never did agree with him but I could see his point.
Again our local underrated Port Noarlunga dive site continues to delight and surprise with things I’ve never seen before in all my years of diving.
Photo: Robert Rath, ‘Bowl of Cowries’, 1/200s f/16 ISO640 16mm