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Pacific Gull Turban-shell Drop Site Near Rottnest's Little Salmon Bay

Pacific Gull Turban-shell Drop Site Near Rottnest's Little Salmon Bay

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Published by Dr Paul Weaver
Casual observations of nature and other things on Rottnest Island in May, 2013.
Casual observations of nature and other things on Rottnest Island in May, 2013.

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Published by: Dr Paul Weaver on Jun 07, 2013
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08/19/2014

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31/05/13 8:25 AMFremantlebiz - Paul's Letter from AustraliaPage 1 of 2http://fremantlebiz.livejournal.com/2013/05/31/
Fremantlebiz - Paul's Letter from Australia
 
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Friday, May 31st, 2013
TimeEvent
8:21a
Pacific Gull turban-shell drop site near Rottnest's Little Salmon Bay 
Pacific Gull turban-shell drop site near Little Salmon Bay
It can be seen that the section of rock shelf in the large photo has cracked off and fallen about a foot withouttilting. At some time in the distant past it was used by Pacific gulls
 Larus pacificus
to shatter reef dwellingturban shells
Turbo spp.
and other shell species by dropping them to get at the edible molluscs inside. Thehabit has been widely recorded around coastal Australia. On the sandy ground above the slab are countlessfragments of shell. The site is one of several on Rottnest Island no longer used by the species. Thisabandonment has possibly been to the proliferation of the smaller aggresive Silver gull
Chroicocephalusnovaehollandiae.
Archeologists call these deposits pseudo shell middens because in the past they have beenmistakenly attributed to human activity. A site in the north east corner of the island was determined by radiocarbon dating to be at least 2,500 years old, and that indications of human involvement had occurred from thecolonial 19th century. (Bindon, Dortch & Kendrick. 1978). Turban shells were very large and prolific when Iused to skindive on the shallow reefs of Rottnest in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but while snorkelling in thepast few years I noticed they were generally quite small and very much scarcer.© MMXIII Paul R. Weaver.
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