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martin ibarra on 17/11/2009
Excelentes fotos y muy interesante el relato! Gracias por traducirlo al espaņol. Las playas neozelandezas son parecidas a las del sur de Argentina. Tienen que ir alli algun dia a recolectar caracoles. Saludos a todo Femorale desde Buenos Aires!

New Zealand 2006 by Marcus Coltro

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New Zealand is still a poorly explored country when it comes to shelling, especially the South Island. So I "invited" myself to visit our friend Andrew Grebneff in Dunedin to collect some shells.
Andrew always told me that there were not enough shells in his area to make a trip worthwhile. Well, I think he changed his mind after Carlos Henckes and I collected so many nice shells with him!

At the airport we saw many warnings about bringing fruits, seeds, animal products and even shells into the country. This was my third trip to NZ, so I knew that we had to declare the shells we were bringing for Andrew - some marine and a few land shells. Well, after I convinced them that the only marine gastropod listed on CITES is Strombus gigas (which could not fit inside the small plastic container....), they decided we had to leave 8 land shells to be "fumigated" to avoid contamination. I tried to explain that we cleaned them properly with bleach and there was no animal left inside the shells, but they took them anyway. Andrew was going to request them later (I don't know if he succeeded). So, when entering NZ, declare all shells!

Of course, it was way too cold even though winter was far away in March (remember, lower hemisphere...), so since freezing was not in my plans, we did not dive and collected only low tide shells. We also obtained some trawled material including beautiful Chlamys delicatula, dichroa, dieffenbachi, some great Buccinidae and other shells. The variety of low tide shells was great: beautiful limpets and Trochidae! Andrew took us to some nearby beaches where we found some material, particularly because the tides were very good. Most of those beaches are still very deserted, so we could crawl onto the rocks looking for shells and scream after each find without fear that someone would call an ambulance to take us to an asylum.

The wind was pretty cold, 9°C in the morning, felt especially since coming from São Paulo where it was 30°C! Andrew drove a few minutes and we got to this nice rocky beach. We climbed rocks at low tide and it was not too difficult since there was enough room to keep our feet dry. But when the tide came in, we had to jump from one rock to another, a quite difficult task when you are carrying collecting gear, shells, digital cameras, coats, and did not feel like falling into freezing water! Also, we are talking about razor sharp volcanic rocks - Carlos and I had a few cuts on our hands but did not get wet!

One afternoon, Andrew took us to collect land shells in the hills around the city. Did I mention that I hate collecting land shells? Why? Well, when you spend hours in the jungle and come out with 4 or 5 itty bitty small, microscopic (ok, enough adjectives) shells, you'll understand why. This was one of those times, we found some Charopidae under rotten pieces of trunks and left the place before our fingers froze and we still had some blood in our bodies after the mosquitoes sucked most of it.

Not only was the shelling great (marine, that is...), the scenery was breathtaking. Huge cliffs, deserted and clean beaches, a very civilized place! At the same time it has its countryside: when we were going up a hill we had to let a herd of sheep pass, guided by their shepherd and his dogs. Very bucolic!

On the last day of our trip, we visited the Otago Museum. A very nice place, lots of interactive activities (I did not see a single "do not touch" warning). In the anthropology section, we found several artifacts made with shells from the Cook Islands, which was to be our next stop. But that you will need to read in my next article...


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