Out of the shells I have found, the Lambis family are beautiful specimens of molluscs.
Never expecting to find anything but broken ones, given their size, imagine, when one day, walking along a rock shelf at low tide, I spied a vivid pink, shiny blob on the dull rocks in the distance. Deep down, knowing what it could be, hoping against hope it was intact, I crabbed across the slippery rocks in record speed.
There, lying on the rocks was a near-perfect specimen, just waiting for me. The last high tide had cast it up. Picking it up, I realised its mollusc was still at home, sadly and smellily deceased. Followed by an army of flies, I called my shell partner over and said inhabitant was buried at sea. The euphoria of the find dissipated the terrible smell on the two hour drive back to Dubai…
Since then, on Indo-Pacific travels, beached lambis seem to fall into my field of vision. I have quite a collection of variations found on such diverse shores as Indonesia, Borneo, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
In Asia, lambis is food in the fishing villages, sadly a smashed shell is often all that remains on the beach, but often the smaller ones are thrown overboard once netted and a fishing village shoreline is often the place to find some .
In Arabia, two types are documented (it’s a fairly vast and diverse family) Lambis Lambis, according to Bosch (Seashells of Eastern Arabia) listed by Melvil and Standen,1901:381 from Muscat, but not found since.I have found these in other Indo-Pacific areas, but not in Arabia.
Lambis truncata sebae (Kiener,1843) is the other Arabian Lambis. Huge shells that can grow to 350mm, they have a heavily glazed parietal wall with the outer lip bearing 7 to 9 open digitation at maturity. Their habitat is on sand near rocks and coral. This is my Arabian find. Last weekend, visiting a small beach on the Oman coast, we found another, heavily crusted, ancient inhabitant of the sea bed cast up on the beach. Surrounded by broken parts, we realised that close off-shore is a local habitat. Marked on the map for future visits….
A few I have found and seen…
Just as a small postscript, I do not collect live shells. My finds are beached and such shells as these are not used by hermit crabs as they are too big. If not smashed open for food, they are eventually ground down by tidal action.In Sri Lanka, a regular haunt, most finds are donated to the resort. Used for decoration, as it’s a rustic, feet-in-the-sand sort of place or gifted to anyone who asks. In Borneo we did the same, gratefully received by the owners who had no idea such was to be found less than two kilometres down the beach…