Low tide in Australia and how it all started

This little beauty is the reason that our interest in shells started
 pic errones
 Cypraea Errones Azurea found alue at Broome, Australia, 29.2mm.
                        The Mascott of our collection since

 

As a family in Australia we used to go on fishing trips every weekend or during the holidays. Sometimes traveling hours on end, to find new places. On one such trip we ended up in Broome, Western Australia, 600 miles from where we lived. It had a low tide that day, much to my delight and once we had set up camp, the rest of my family started looking for dinner, octopus and crabs, while I (Maria Demertzis), being a very curious child indulged in my favorite sport, exploring every hole, rock or crevice,  I could find with my fingers. It was a miracle that I still continued to have them all intact. Upturning a hollow rock, I discovered underneath a shiny and strange looking blue stone, (which I came later to learn was a shell, Cypraea Errones Azurea). Catching up with my family I showed them my new treasure and after everybody had examined it closely, all wondering what it was, my father (Peter Demertzis) took it for safe keeping. Full of enthusiasm I returned to exploring in the hopes of finding another one, only to return wailing and running at top speed, ( believe me if Id been in the Olympics, I'd probably have gotten a gold) some time later, with a crab claw dangling from the end of one finger. The rest of the poor creature left behind: minus one claw. That certainly put a damp on my exploring for a while.

pic fish   pic fish2 pic prawn  pic-crab 
 A  days catch of red snapper, spanish makrel and other fish from windy  island.  TDinner for 4-5 days and still have left overs.
As a child I loved to fish, but eating them was another story.
 PRAWNS
Fished at Finican Is. with nets among mangrove trees,  while mosquitos fished on us.
I didn't have any problems eating these fellows. YUM!!!!
 Boiled just right and long gone 

 

Among all the places we visited for shelling, I can say without hesitation that my favorite was eighty mile beach, (the name says it all ).

 pict wind  pic low tide
WINDY ISLAND
At low tide you could pass across by foot.
The closest point being from the main land 3 miles.
At night sleeping on the Island was impossible, due to the birds that flocked there.
Dozens of diffrent speices from seagulls to pellicans, exetera. 
Low tide at 80 miles beach. An ideal plaxe for finding volutes and sharks.

 

There we collected Volutes, such as Amoria damoni, Amoria ellioti, Amoria grayi and this fantastic blue specimen found by my father. To find these shells, sometimes we had to get up as early as three in the morning, to catch the low tide, walking in towards the sea for an hour.

pict damoni pict grayi pict blue pic eighty2

 Amoria Damoni,at night searching for food. Eighty mile beach

Amoria Grayi meets Jamrachi.  Sometimes the animal is more beautiful than the actual shell.

 Amoria Ellioti. One of a Kind found 80 miles beach . Blue specimen

Would you believe that small ships pass here at high tide?

 

On those occasions, there was a lot of complaining and grouching from my brother's part and my own, but once out there everything was forgotten. Especially when we came upon a sight like this.


 pict hiding
 Volute. Digging its way out of the sand at low tide.

 

Shelling wasn't always fun and joy and we've had our share of dangerous experiences. I remember the first time we had gone shelling to eighty mile beach. Walking some distance out to sea, there was a natural trench in a semi circle about two and a half meters wide, which even at low tide to a grown man, it was waist deep. When the sea returned it was the first to fill with water. Not knowing this and having lost track of time, when we finally realized that the tide was coming in and deciding to return we came upon this trench. Confused also by the night (the land could not be seen) we thought we had walked in the wrong direction, so we turned back the other way. I cannot describe our fright and panic, when we realized that we had walked back towards the sea and that the land was far behind, with the tide coming in all around us fast. How we managed to scrape that one I still sometimes wonder. It taught us a lesson though and on our next trip we were equipped with compasses and flashing light beacons.

Now if your still here and haven't fallen asleep yet, let me tell you about One Arm Point. It was an aborigine resort and to be able to visit, first you had to have permission and second you had to travel over 550 miles of bad gravel road (there was a great deal of bouncing around ). Having an aborigine friend with relatives living there, we were fortunate enough to be given a pass and thus able to see in my opinion the best bush landscape and clearest sea water we had seen in Australia. A place I know for sure that my father will certainly never forget, due to the shell we came to find there and how he found it. He had first seen a picture of this very rare Bednalli in the book, "What Shell Is That" by Author Neville Coleman, page 77, and for him it was love at first sight. So can you conceive dear reader, this mans shear luck to finding one alive.

 pict onearm point  pict bednali
One Arm Point, an aborgine resort at night we went shelling for Pterynotus Bednalli.  The priize of our collection Pterynotus Bednalli, yellow with black brown wings found at One Arm Point.

 

Writing the story as I have heard it over the years, in my fathers words: It was April the 8th, 1980 and a quarter to nine at night. After having walked 3 hours searching for Pterynotus Bendnalli, in an area full of huge piles, of big rocks and not finding anything, disappointed my company and I came to meet at one such mount of rocks. There along with our aborigine guide we discussed the idea of moving on to another area. Being tired, I decided not to follow them, no matter how hard they tried to persuade me. So they continued on, while I scrambled to the top of the rocks and sat down. I stayed there for about 20 minutes resting and enjoying the night. Finally climbing down to return to camp and shining my flash light in front of me to watch my step, it's beam came to lay on the very same shell I had adored from the first time I saw it in a picture. I couldn't believe it, thinking that my mind and eyes were playing tricks on me with an illusion. Only when I bent down and picked it up, I came to realize it was real. Falling to my knees, I thanked God for putting this treasure in my way and for not going with the others. Wanting to keep the joy of finding it to myself just a little longer, three days passed before I showed my Bednalli to the others. And their reactions, well they cannot be described by words!!!

So .......people....that's how it all started.   Thanks for reading.

MARIA DEMERTZIS