Sunday, October 19, 2008

Beautiful things: part I, Siratus beauii

In keeping with my efforts to write about drawings as I finish them, this drawing was just finished recently. I was in Bermuda earlier in the year and when visiting the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (just on the left as you come into Hamilton from Middle Road), I spent some time in their Jack Lightborne shell collection. It is an amazing collection of shells from all over the world. There were many there that caught my eye. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that this one was almost pure white, with only a few pale tan streaks -- this made for an interesting challenge. The shell was labeled Siratus beauii and was found near Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. The species falls into the family by the name muricidae -- all members of this family are carnivores and they prey primarily on bivalves and marine snails. After I got home and finished the drawing, I did a little further research: their range extends from Florida down to Uruguay and their morphology and coloring can be quite varied. A very pale example of the species, such as this one, does not seem to be very common (at least if one uses the sample size of the 10-20 images available on the web as comparison... probably not a good mechanism for determining frequency). It seems that the species was renamed Chicoreus beauii; both names were given in 1857 by P. Fischer and Bernardi (at least according to this online source). The shell has also been featured on a Brazilian stamp (shown at this link).

Siratus beauii, 2008.
Pencil on paper, 7" x 5".

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