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Brain problems for shell collectors?

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Joined: 04 May 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:59 pm    Post subject: Brain problems for shell collectors? Reply with quote

In the web forum Deep Sea News ( a surprising discussion on shell collecting is reported. 'Shocked''Laughing''Razz'

What do you think about?

Here I report the first post:

Brain Problems Can Make People Spend $20,000 On Seashells'Shocked''Laughing''Razz'

<<Orlean's The Orchid Thief delves in to the psychosis for some that is orchid collecting. In this example, she covers John Laroche's arrest for poaching rare orchids in a Florida state preserve and his obsession to find and clone the uber rare Ghost Orchid. The mindset of a collector is not limited to orchids and is pervasive through our culture. McIntosh & Schmeichel (2004) suggest that "collectors are drawn to collecting as a means of bolstering the self by setting up goals that are tangible and attainable and provide the collector with concrete feedback of progress." Alternatively, severe collecting, hoarding, is seen as a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which may reflect a neurological disorder to the frontal lobe that disrupts a mechanisms that modulates the predispositions to acquire and collect. It suggested that this same region of the brain processes ritual and becomes hyperactive in OCD. So is a malfunctioning brain what drives people to spend $20,000 on a seashell?

You may ask yourself what this has to do with the deep sea. The Brisbane Times features an article entitled Shell out for these beach beauties about shell collecting. Specifically, the article mentions Cypraea (Zoila) mariella, Mariella's Cowry, a deep sea prize that is one of the rarest shells on the market and in auctions (yes there is a shell market and auctions). Its rarity and thus price is tied to a limited biogeographical range. It is only found off NW Australia and in 200-300m of water which also explains it relatively recent description (Raybaudi, 1983). The species is so rare and so heavily sought after that the Australian government lists it as nationally vulnerable. It is not a particularly flashy shell, Mariella's Cowry is the color of heavy cream toped with a hazelnut-colored protoconch (larval shell) but is rather absent of a pattern or sculpture. An individual of this species may go for as much as $20,000 in F++ (gem) quality and of substantial size. I know this because as I study deep-sea gastropods, I am often (weekly) contacted by collectors wanting rare deep-sea shells for purchase. Of course, I don't sell individuals numerous illegal and unethical reasons.

So other than having an extra $20,000 laying around what drives collectors to want such a species? Is it a psychosis? In fairness many of these collectors have made contributions to taxonomy and biogeography of the groups they collect. This may justify spending $1,000's to obtain every individual species in a family. I admit to having a personal/scientific collection of gastropods. All of them in my collection encompass species I have obtained as gifts or through my travels. I can honestly say I have never purchased a shell (although I have thought about it numerous times). Were are the lines and to what extent is this healthy? What are your thoughts? >> 'Shocked''Laughing''Razz'
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Joined: 09 Jul 2007
Posts: 7
Location: Salina,Ks.67401-U.S.A.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:29 am    Post subject: I think it may be a sickness Reply with quote

I think it may because I have had it for years now.I'm 50 years old.But single having never married and no kids and living with my parents now for over 30 years.Though I have dental work,things to get for my car and whatever else I spent $900.00 for a F+++Cypraea Leucodon Tenuidon.I had to have it though because I've been wanting that one for 35 years.Three years ago I worked my VISA up to $17,000 dollars on Cyps only.My parents think I'm crazy and I must finally concede that I'm at least financialy insane.It's been debit card and paypal only now after the bankruptcy.When I stuck my head in the Burgess Book as a kid I read and memorized the entire book and I can't help it.I have not changed one iota in 37 years.When I'm not working 50 hour week at the worlds largest pizza factory I'm on the internet for hours checking every cowry site.My favorites list has around 80 cypraea sites.I'm making improvement but its slowgoing but will advance forward.Thank you for having a forum!
Robert F.Grant
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