The Big Button Shell

Button or Pearly Top Shell (1) - Trochus (Tectus) niloticus Linnaeus found on the shore of Normanby Island off the coast of Northern Queensland, Australia. The mother-of-pearl from this type of shell was and still is used commercially for making buttons and similar decorative objects. Trochus niloticus Linnaeus is a large heavy Top Shell with a lot of internal mother-of-pearl which has, in the past, been commercially exploited for use in button-making. Hence its common name of Button or Pearly Top Shell. The numbers are reduced now but shells are still found washed ashore. The examples shown here were photographed on Normanby Island near the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Northern Queensland in Australia.

The island is a nature reserve and nothing can be removed. Whatever lives there, or is found there, stays there – so that it can be enjoyed by all subsequent visitors. Hidden among the trees on the island is a table top covered with some of the unusual or colourful treasures that have been picked up on the beach – comprising clams, cowries, cones, corals, cuttle bones, conchs, helmet and turban shells. The collection also includes several worn and faded specimens of this large Pearly or Button Top Shell – but none as splendid and intact as the ones I found (and left) on the strandline.

Button or Pearly Top Shell (2) - Trochus (Tectus) niloticus Linnaeus found on the shore of Normanby Island off the coast of Northern Queensland, Australia. The mother-of-pearl from this type of shell was and still is used commercially for making buttons and similar decorative objects.

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2013

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