The Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman Island was visited for a two-week exploration of the shallow and deeper water habitats. We had set up station on the west coast, with an access to the beach that was quite suitable for divers. Felix and Jana spent five days exploring an area along a coral reef slope from 2 to 25 m. They collected numerous specimens of a plain white species of Conidae, which later turned out to be a new species. It was subsequently described as Jaspidiconus janapatriciae Petuch, Berschauer & Poremski in August 2016 issue of The Festivus 48(3).
Furthermore, we found the habitat of the elusive Conus explorator and re-discovered Conus sphacelatus Sowerby 1833. This distinctive Cone was listed as a "lost" species known only by the type shell of unknown origin. It turned out that Grand Cayman yields a rich fauna, especially of Toxoglossan Gastropods, which is poorly known, despite the frequent visits by shell-collectors from the USA.
It was good to see that the reefs are intact and there are no obvious traces of pollution, despite the intense building activities along the southerwest of the island. The Giant Conch (Strombus gigas), listed as endangered species in many areas of the Caribbean, and protected by the Washington Act, is still found in abundance in all shallow water habitats. Our short trip shall not be the last one to this place, which probably yields a lot of further malacological surprises.
From left: Conus janapatriciae, Conus explorator, Conus sphacelatus (all approx. 15 mm). Grand Cayman Is.