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Charonia tritonis (Trumpet triton - LAMARCK, 1816)

A couple of years ago I cam across a Charonis tritonis and I am ashamed to admit that I removed the animal and used its shell as a trophy. When I found out that this species is actually endangered because too many people do exactly the same thing I felt really bad but there was nothing I could do.. or so I though. Well, this year (2003) I came across one more C. tritonis which I found at a depth of about 8 meters in Syros island. It was a good opportunity to correct my previous mistake by moving this animal to safer deeper place thus making its collection more difficult. But, why not take some close up pictures first ? After all, you don't come across it every day (actually it was the second C.tritonis I ever saw alive). So I took it, found a rock in shallow waters to have enough sunlight and turned it upside down so it would have to get out in order to regain its normal position. I got my pictures and then left it in a hidden spot which was much deeper than before.

I can almost hear some of you wondering why didn't I collect it for my marine tanks. Well, I had already collected information about most of the fishes and invertebrates I would likely meet during diving and this was not among the ones that could fit in my tanks. First, it gets quite large; 40 cm when fully developed (the animal in the photo was about 35 cm). Second they need a big tank since they like to move around - and they move all day and night. Thirdly, because of its size is will bother all other invertebrates (and not only) in the tank. Indeed, when id decides to move from A to B it will choose a straight path and will follow it, no matter what lies in between. However, the most important reason not to keep it is its dietary needs. I already have an Octopus vulgaris, which greatly reduces the variety of animals that can live with it (actually only invertebrates and not all of them). Charonia tritonis will simply eat all the other... Its saliva contains sulfuric acid and is able to dissolve the calcareous bodies of sea urchins while it will also attack and eat all sea stars. Actually, in tropical waters it is the only animal able to kill and eat the "Crown of Thorn" sea star. I will not say I was not tempted - it will be a lie. While in the water, I kept on thinking of possible arrangements which would allow me to keep this beauty in my tank. However, I think I took the right decision. Its place is in the sea. As simple as that. 

Charonia tritonis laid on its back. This was the only way to "force" the animal to come out of the shell without using force.

As you can see, the animal is slowly emerging from its shell - Photos by G.J.Reclos / MCH

More photos in next page

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