Sunday, February 27, 2011

Buli Kula!

Click for detail!

Just wanted to show you the above.

It's a Buli Kula, or Golden Cowry (Lyncina (formely Cypraea) aurantium).
I happened to stumble across this remarkable specimen in only seven meters when off-gassing after yesterday's second Shark Dive. Golden Cowries are generally rare but locally abundant - and the region around Beqa is such a location. Normally only found below 20 meters, they regularly migrate to much shallower depth, this possibly in connection with reproduction.

Much valued by collectors, Golden Cowries from Fiji are particularly expensive.
This is because they play an important role in indigenous Fijian tradition and are thus kept and only rarely sold. But worry not: the cowry is alive and well - and well hidden within a deep cave in a place that only I know!
Incidentally, modern lore has it that finders are particularly blessed with luck, and I consequently fully expect something really positive to happen shortly! :)

Of interest, there is a reason why all cowries are so shiny.
This is because when the animal is active, the shell is fully covered by the living tissue, called mantle. The mantle is generally very complex and may thus not only protect but also conceal the shell when the animal is foraging out in the open at night.
This is a picture of a Golden Cowry crawling along on a reef in Kwajalein - the front end with the feelers is on the right.

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