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Collective passion for shells

Peter Holt

IT'S safe to say there are some unique hobbies out there.

And despite my own personal experience, shell collecting still rates outside the box.

But for others like Slade Point resident Geoff Taylor, who has been collecting shells for about 45 years, it's opened a world of friendship with like-minded people.

Mr Taylor, 69, began collecting in his early 20s. It was an interest that grew from a simple walk along the beach with his wife Audrey.

"People we knew invited us to come along to a meeting... I just got into it from there," he said.

There are many different families, however, the main players are murex, cowries, cones and volutes, also known as the big four.

Serious collectors generally choose to specialise in at least one of these families.

Mr Talyor said this was true, however, he also favoured pectons, which is the symbol seen on Shell garages.

"I'm refining my collection now. It's too big," he said.

Snorkelling and reef walking are two popular ways to manually collect shells, however, dredging, attending shell shows and swapping with others are other methods.

Those involved in the hobby share a camaraderie, which Mr Taylor said was also behind its popularity.

It's what's kept him interested for almost five decades.

"The company, the people that you meet... You have similar interests, therefore you develop friendships," he said.

It can also be quite competitive, with collectors attempting to outdo each other.

"There are so many different types of shells, you can always have a different collection," he said.

Funnily enough, distorted shells are more highly sought after because they are something different.

Mr Taylor said sadly shell collecting was an ageing hobby in Australia and as such annual meetings had dropped down to two - at Keppel Bay and Townsville - as interest died out.

"Worldwide it seems to be very popular still but here in Queensland it seems to have lost its flavour," he said.



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