Femorale - +25 Years
Available shells
Photo gallery
Sally Kaicher Cards
Peggy Williams Cards
No message at this time.
Be the first to post a comment.

Shelling on Roatan, Honduras by Marcus Coltro

It's not easy to get to Roatan from Brazil. Since we hadn't planned the trip (as usual), flights were fully booked and there were not many options. Most flights to Roatan come from the US, but our diver, Paulo Gonçalves, does not have a visa, so we had to fly to Panama, stop in Costa Rica, stay one night in Tegucigalpa (Honduras' capital), fly to San Pedro Sula the next day, then take a tiny plane (it looked home-built) to Roatan. Paulo never flew before, so for him everything was very exciting at first (by the time we got back home he was sick of it...).

see photo presentation »

We had a whole day in Tegucigalpa, so we went to the Museum of Anthropology. Shells were present during most of Honduran history, from handicrafts to musical instruments, and also as food. And for those who think dental drilling or filing are modern developments, we saw some very weird and probably painful adornment of teeth from hundreds of years ago.

Our friend Tony McLeery was waiting for us in Roatan harbor, so we took off right away on our first shelling trip. Due to our short stay, we remained on the west coast and went up to Barbareta Island. I understand why Roatan is one of the best diving spots in the Caribbean: its waters are very beautiful and full of life. But not full of shells... The marine life is quite distracting even after the many trips that we have taken. At least this time I had my digital camera with its underwater case, so that I can share some images with you.

see photo presentation »

Since I lost one of Tony's dredges last time (it got stuck and the line broke), I promised to bring him a new one. I had made a very precise sketch to build it myself and went to buy stainless steel parts. After getting dirty selecting those parts, I saw some big stainless steel tubes, about 30 cm of diameter and 60 cm long, so I came up with an idea: why not put a mesh on one end of the tube and use it as a dredge? Not to mention that it would be much easier to build and carry. Indeed, the idea worked, but the place where we tried it brought no results. Tony kept the dredge and will try in some other places. It is very sturdy and even resists hitting hard rocks.

One of the shells we were looking for was Conus kulkucan, a beautiful species from the C. cardinalis group. The first one I found was amazing, dark blood-red! We found others, but this first one was the best. We found several Fissurellidae -- the animal is beautiful in some of them, Turbo caillettii, fantastic dwarf Strombus costatus, nice Turridae while diving and many other interesting shells in the few dredgings we did.
We tried to get some land shells, but it was very dry and the only thing we found on Barbareta was a Potamididae: Cerithidea pliculosa veracruzensis Bequaert.

Most of our diving was in shallow water, so our tanks last forever. I used up most of the time without even looking at the gauge to see how much air I had left.... Just in one place did I go to deeper water to see if anything could be found. I don't have a meter gauge with my regulator, I use a Citizen Aqualand watch on my wrist. But Murphy again traveled with me (he must have lots of miles on his frequent traveler program...) so the battery went dead just as I was going down. The water was very clear, no current, and warm. All three things that can mislead even experienced divers. But I felt the pressure and decided to return slowly while I still had plenty of air, and since it was on a reef wall, it was easy to stop and check for shells. After I used my first tank, I changed to another one with a working gauge so that I could control my bottom time better. Well, I went down to 40 meters! And as usual, the deeper you go, the fewer shells you find.

see photo presentation »

Usually when diving in very shallow water, my diving buddy and I do not always stay together (I know, it is not the right procedure...). Since we did not have much time left for shelling, we each went to a different part of the reef. The current was very annoying - again I did not have enough weight so I kept grabbing pieces of dead coral to stabilize. I was going straight to this large coral head when I noticed something bright and round near the sand and went to check it out. I usually don't pay attention to large fish when I am collecting shells, and don't bother much with sharks as long as they don't come too close, but of course I avoid them especially at night. When I got closer to the "bright spot" I realized that it was the eye of a huge sand shark! These sharks are not man-eaters but one of this size (much bigger than I) could harm you if it hits you when trying to get away. I got as close as I could to take a picture, but it was not close enough since I was stuck under a coral head and if I tried to get closer, the shark would certainly hit me to escape. I left it alone and went to the other side of the coral head to check for shells.

This was our third trip in less than 2 months, first New Zealand then Cook Islands. I discovered that this is the best way to lose weight, especially when I have to cook for myself: I lost 6 kilos!
Perhaps I could open a weight-loss spa for collectors and make them eat what I eat! The price? Well, I would keep all the shells collected!

© Femorale 1999 / 2024 All rights reserved