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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Conversation with Marilee McNeilus

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Marilee McNeilus

John Bradshaw - Conversation with Marilee McNeilus
TOPICS: Conversations

John Bradshaw: How did you get into collecting seashells?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, that's an interesting question because I'm really not sure how it evolved. I know my first recollection of a shell was when we went to Galveston... saw the ocean for the first time as a child. And I took my little bit of savings, or my allowance money, went into a store, and bought shells, because I was just fascinated by, by shells. The beauty, the intricacy, I don't know what it was. And then years later, after I was married, we went in our little camper with our two young children and headed to Florida. And we camped on the beach in Bahia Honda State Park. And then the tide went out, and our boys had their little buckets, and they would go out and pick up all things, sorts of things, and it was like, what is all this? And what are we seeing here? I mean, it was just amazing. And then the people next to us, camp... were actually collecting shells. So that just opened up this whole world to me of like, wow! What am I...what beautiful things that I'm seeing! Little did I know or realize at that time that shells, or mollusks, are the second-largest phylum in the animal kingdom, so there's, you know, almost 100,000 species of shells to get to know here.

John Bradshaw: That's a, that's a vast array, or, or a, that's a, that's a very big field, isn't it?

Marilee McNeilus: It's a big field. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And shells are everywhere in the world, you know. And people collect shells everywhere in the world.

John Bradshaw: Hey, let me ask you this. I'm gonna, I'm gonna... pick up a shell here. I need a, a crane, I think, to help me with this one. And I'm going to ask the question, I don't know quite the best way to put this, but, this looks like it was cast in concrete or made of plastic or some such thing. This might not be representative of every shell in the ocean, but that's a seashell. It's a big fellow. So, I'm going to ask you, what in the world this is, and then I'd like you to explain to me...because I see these as marvels of creation, utter marvels of creations... I need you to explain what this is and then tell me what a seashell is. Maybe we should do it one way and the other, but we'll do it the other way and then the one... what's this? This is a beauty.

Marilee McNeilus: That is a Syrinx; this is from Australia. This is actually an example of the largest gastropod being a one-unit shell, which 80 percent of the shells are gastropods.

John Bradshaw: As opposed to bivalves like oysters?

Marilee McNeilus: Right, correct. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: And this one is a representative of the species, but the largest ones are much larger, the record shell, but this is the largest gastropod in the world, and, um, from Australia.

John Bradshaw: Which part of Australia, do you know?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, uh, Western Australia.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. I've actually collected some in Broome.

John Bradshaw: Does Broome's location, isolated on the northwestern coast of Australia, does that lend itself in some way to being a great shell destination?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, there's a lot of good species of shells. Australia...

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus:, is really good shelling in Australia.

John Bradshaw: And this is an example of one?

Marilee McNeilus: And this is an example of one...

John Bradshaw: That's fantastic.

Marilee McNeilus: know, extreme example.

John Bradshaw: Now, now, someone camping on the beach is going to find one of these on the beach?

Marilee McNeilus: No, no, no. When we were in Broome, we were at a equinox of the, of the tides of the sun, and there was 30-foot-minus tides.

John Bradshaw: Oh, okay.

Marilee McNeilus: So that means that where there was 30 foot of water, the tide went out far enough that, that you were now, could walk there.

John Bradshaw: So that's a lot of beach that was...

Marilee McNeilus: That's a lot of beach, and mostly it's not beach; it's rocky, uh, puddles, holes, all kinds of just fascinating, fascinating sea life that you're seeing there...and exposed.

John Bradshaw: So, it's a...

Marilee McNeilus: And this is laying, the one I collected was, of course, much smaller than that, and I think I've given it away, but, um, it was laying on the sandy mud. Mm-hmm. But to think that this grew from a little egg... most people don't realize that shells grow. They're egg-laying. They lay eggs in masses. I think we have some examples we can show you, but there's some, you know, little growth series, and we could find these in these little pools, these little teeny-tiny shells.

John Bradshaw: So these grow from eggs?

Marilee McNeilus: They grow from eggs. Shells are egg-layers. They lay in mass, like amphibians, you know.

John Bradshaw: So let me ask you the, the basic, maybe ignorant person's question, but I think there's a lot of people who will resonate with this question. What's a seashell? What are we looking at when we're looking at a, at a seashell?

Marilee McNeilus: We're looking at some animal's home.

John Bradshaw: Oh, yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: So there's an animal there, not now, of course, but there was an animal inside this?

Marilee McNeilus: That lived in that home.

John Bradshaw: Well, okay, I think the easy thing... you think about an oyster or a mussel or a scallop that many people are familiar with; there's, that's the animal; there's, the casing is the home. Similar principle here?

Marilee McNeilus: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Uh, so how does this happen? Something laid an egg, and it...

Marilee McNeilus: Grew. It grew. Just like a...

John Bradshaw: How, how...

Marilee McNeilus: ... just like a baby, just like a child, just like...

John Bradshaw: So how did these grow?

Marilee McNeilus: Just there's, uh, the animal in, in the shell...

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: ..secretes in its mantle cavity, a part of the shell, secretes this liquid calcium; it's like a calcium carbonate; that's what it's made up of, like a bony structure. It's just like reverse of a body, the animal lives inside the hard surface. We have our skin, and our bone structure internal. So the shell grows. He always lives in that same shell. He doesn't move out of the shell. He constantly is growing. His rate of growth would depend on food availability, water temperature, other factors in the sea. And he just continues to grow and maintain; at some point he reaches adulthood. And then you can see on some shells where they, they're continually keeping their shell maintained. It's like you maintain your body; they maintain the sh..., they maintain their shell.

John Bradshaw: I have to ask you the question everybody wants to know the answer to. And that is, people like me who, we go to the beach, and we're always looking, my wife even more so, looking down, looking for a shell, hoping to find a nice shell. But it seems like there are some beaches you can go to over and over and over and over again... they don't have any shells. So, so the amateur enthusiast, the person who just likes to find a pretty shell at the beach, what do we need to know to increase our chances of finding a nice shell when we go to the beach?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, you need to know what you're looking for. That helps.

John Bradshaw: I wouldn't have a clue. A shell, anything will do.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, well...

John Bradshaw: Something nice.

Marilee McNeilus: Then, then you look and you find... it's, it's a known fact that all the west coast of Florida is good shelling, Sanibel in particular, because of the way the... the coastline is one way, and the island sits the opposite way to that thing. So if you look at a map and you look at the Florida coastline, and then you look at Sanibel and Captiva and their, the other islands up from there; they're sitting horizontally to that or vertically to that. And so, there's something about the currents and things that bring in a more abundance of shells. And of course, storms do this, you know. Summertime shelling is not so great, but storms, and tides, following the tides, the moon phase.

John Bradshaw: So it sounds like real estate, then. "Location, location, location".

Marilee McNeilus: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: So, when we go to the beach in southern California by Malibu, there were never any shells. And you go to Daytona Beach; it looks like there's never any shells. And that's just the way it is, right?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. They don't live there.

John Bradshaw: No? They don't live there?

Marilee McNeilus: They don't live there.

John Bradshaw: So where do they live?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, they live, actually most, the majority of shells live in the first atmosphere of the ocean, the first, like, 33 feet.

John Bradshaw: Oh, really?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah. Mm-hmm. You know, that first, well, they call it atmosphere, you know. You go down 33, 66...the feet, you you're going down. But, but, shells occur in thousands and thousands of feet of water. Now, those, that's when it gets to be a little more uncommon.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: Actually most people don't collect. I've, I've had the privilege of collecting in deep water.

John Bradshaw: Hm.

Marilee McNeilus: But, um, most people obviously don't even ever see those shells unless you go to a shell show, a shell show or shell shop, where they sell shells. And that's kind of fun to do. It's like, if you go to Sanibel... I keep bringing Sanibel up because it's one of my favorite places.

John Bradshaw: And that's kind of the, the, the, the place...

Marilee McNeilus: Shell capital of the U.S., probably.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And they have pictures...or examples. They'll say what local shells... these are things you're capable of finding on this beach.

John Bradshaw: Ah, okay.

Marilee McNeilus: And, of course, to me, you need a book. You need books...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: ...multiple, multiple books to look and see pictures of...and it's like, "Oh, I can find that," or, "I will look for that," or, "I think I found something that looks like this," and, and that's, that's the fun of it. It's the exploration. It's the thrill of the hunt.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. So when I was a little kid growing up in New Zealand, and we'd go to Raglan, a, uh, a black sand beach on the west coast of the North Island, you're only gonna find what you're able to find, and that's that. You're kind of wasting your time if you're hoping to find something really special. Is that right?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: And shells are endemic to certain areas, you know. You know, they live, they live in certain areas, so you have to go to a, you have to go to where they live.

John Bradshaw: Now, I understand that there's a shell that's been named after you. Is that correct?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Okay. All right. We're gonna have to take a look at that. We'll have to. And what I want to ask you about is shells in the Bible. Does the Bible speak much about shells? What does it have to say?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, one of the most interesting things that I think a lot of people don't realize, that there's this lady in the Bible, in Acts, who was very hospitable. She was a businesswoman, which is pretty rare for Bible times. Her name was Lydia. And it says that Lydia was "a seller of purple".

John Bradshaw: Purple.

Marilee McNeilus: Now, most people don't realize that, that purple in that day came from a mollusk, from a shell.

John Bradshaw: From a shell?

Marilee McNeilus: From a shell.

John Bradshaw: So her business, her enterprise...

Marilee McNeilus: Is, was from shells.

John Bradshaw: ...was connected to shells.

Marilee McNeilus: Shells, uh-huh. They were shells that were shallow-water shells, and I'm assuming, although we don't know, that she probably hired men or somebody to go down into the sea, collect these shells, and then they would break them. And then there's a small gland in this shell.

John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.

Marilee McNeilus: And it secretes this purple. And it takes hundreds, maybe literally thousands, of these shells to make just a very small dab of purple dye. So, that's why purple is associated with royalty, and actually is today, to a certain extent...

John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.

Marilee McNeilus: know.

John Bradshaw: So, Lydia, the seller of purple...

Marilee McNeilus: Purple.

John Bradshaw: the book of Acts...

Marilee McNeilus: Acts. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: ...was dealing with something that she derived from a seashell?

Marilee McNeilus: Seashell. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Fantastic.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, yeah.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: Uh-huh. So, she probably associated with the wealthy. It was only the wealthy that could afford this, you know, It took a, a lot of shells to make this little dab of dye, and then they had to put the cloth into this dye. I don't know if she sold the cloth or she sold the actual vial of the purple.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: Not quite sure how, we don't, we don't know that.

John Bradshaw: In a moment, I want to ask you about shells in the Bible. Shells in the Bible. Don't go away. We'll be right back.

John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining us today. I'm talking with Marilee McNeilus, a shell collector. Uh, not the kind of shell collector you were when you were a child, or I was when I was a child. We're talking about serious shell collecting. And now I want to ask you about shells in the Bible. And I wonder if you can explain this to me.

Marilee McNeilus: That shell that you're holding is called Murex brandaris. Murex are a family of shells; they're a carnivorous family, and that shell was one of the shells that was collected in Phoenicia by probably fishermen, or workers, collected this shell for Lydia, and collected them in large quantities, because it took a lot of dye. You can imagine that shell... they probably whacked it with a hammer or some similar object, took the animal out, took one gland, one small part of that shell, and put all these pieces together and came up with this dye. This dye doesn't turn purple till it hits the air, and then it becomes purple.

John Bradshaw: So this is Lydia, the seller of...

Marilee McNeilus: Purple.

John Bradshaw: ...purple, we read about in the book of Acts.

Marilee McNeilus: Right. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: And that purple was extracted from this?

Marilee McNeilus: From that shell. There are, there are other Murex that also excrete it, but that was the most common one in that area.

John Bradshaw: So, where Lydia was, were these shells nearby, or were...they had to be brought from quite a distance?

Marilee McNeilus: Oh, maybe it's 30, 40 miles from the...

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: ...from the sea, you know. And then, then the dye was brought up, probably cooked or something somehow, cooked down, and then this purple was extracted from that. It took about an ounce of that purple dye to, to...make just a, a small fraction of fabric purple.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: So you can understand why it was so costly.

John Bradshaw: She was quite the businesswoman.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, she was. Yes, and fairly successful, because you realize only the upper echelon of the society could afford the purple. So they made contact with Lydia. So she was quite, quite a lady.

John Bradshaw: So, Lydia, the seller of purple, uh, derived her income from seashells.

Marilee McNeilus: Correct.

John Bradshaw: Just like this.

Marilee McNeilus: And it took hundreds and probably thousands of shells to...get the purple that she needed to dye cloth.

John Bradshaw: Now, these shells are still there today.

Marilee McNeilus: Not so many.

John Bradshaw: Oh?

Marilee McNeilus: They actually almost became extinct because of the over-collecting of that shell.

John Bradshaw: Now, you'll have to pardon my ignorance. I just thought these things grew, like, uh, you plant a seed in the ground, and a tree grows, and somehow this just grows. But these, every shell... and correct me if I'm wrong... every shell is made by the little creature who inhabits the shell?

Marilee McNeilus: Correct.

John Bradshaw: So, so, looking at this from a Creation point of view, you've got a little guy, some, some creature making this, so, so he's laying down the, uh...

Marilee McNeilus: But he starts, he starts here. He starts here.

John Bradshaw: At the top?

Marilee McNeilus: At the top, this little...and he, and he whirls around. He's got a spire, a center column, columella, in the center of the shell.

John Bradshaw: Right, I see.

Marilee McNeilus: Okay. If you look in there, in the aperture, you can see there's a center column, and he, he works around that column, and it grows.

John Bradshaw: And when he gets to here, he says, "I want a spike there," and he builds a spike.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: And he goes half an inch and he says, "I want to put another spike," and this is all architected and designed and made by that little...

Marilee McNeilus: That little animal.

John Bradshaw: How complex a creature is he?

Marilee McNeilus: Very, very simple. Very simple.

John Bradshaw: Wow. So a simple creature...

Marilee McNeilus: Makes that beautiful shell.

John Bradshaw: It's, uh, it's remarkable. It's remarkable. I'd like you to tell me about some of your favorite shells. And I don't know that you have a favorite. I'm not going to ask you what's your favorite. But this is where we want to talk a little bit more about design and Creation. Because as I've considered some of these things, it just seems to me to be compelling evidence that we worship a Creator, that these things...I guess you could believe, if you wanted to, that this evolved, but that would take a whole lot more faith than believing it was created.

Marilee McNeilus: Right. Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, exactly.

John Bradshaw: So, so tell me the story about some fascinating shells.

Marilee McNeilus: I'm going to look at some of the shells and put...we'll talk about this later... this is the babies here. But these are Cypraea, or cowries. They seem to be a, a fascinating shell, that most people like them because they're shiny.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: The reason they're shiny is because the animal, the animal that lives inside the shell, actually has a thin membrane that covers the shell.

John Bradshaw: They're beautiful, aren't they?

Marilee McNeilus: They are.

John Bradshaw: The, the colors and the designs...

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Isn't that amazing?

John Bradshaw: Yeah, they are amazing. Where would you find something like this?

Marilee McNeilus: That's, that's leucodon, and that is in the Philippines.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Are these all...

Marilee McNeilus: Deep, deep water, they're a deep-water.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: And, and, how do find, how you find a deep-water shell? It comes up and washes up onto the beach, or you gotta go down there...

Marilee McNeilus: No, usually they're netted by, by fishermen. They have them put on... they actually have a net called tangle nets.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: And they kind of drag it along the bottom, and these get caught in the tangle net.

John Bradshaw: They're, they're, they're remarkably designed. What can you tell me about how, how, how these work or function?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, they grow also from the center column, and they just grow around. When they're, when they're immature, the final thing is to make the lip and the teeth. And, and...collectors look at the teeth as an identifica... identifying characteristic. But you hardly ever find one that's broken or immature. It seems like they really do all their development in, you know, like big, big stages of development.

John Bradshaw: And the other ones that we got in the tray here, they're all beautiful; these ones are remarkable.

Marilee McNeilus: Now, this is Crypraea fultoni. This is an interesting shell because this shell is only found in the stomach of a musselcracker fish. In other words, the fish comes along, eats the shell.

John Bradshaw: Eats that whole shell?

Marilee McNeilus: Eats that whole shell. And then people that go fishing find the fish. And then they open up the fish and, lo and behold, there's a shell inside the fish.

John Bradshaw: So that's the only place you find them, inside a fish?

Marilee McNeilus: That's the only fish they've found them.

John Bradshaw: Why don't you find them somewhere else?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, nobody goes diving there. It's just in a, a small area where they're at, and so the fish there, they're fishing. And they've discovered these shells in these fishing and found out that the shells were more valuable, of course, than the fish.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: So...

John Bradshaw: So if these shells are only found in the belly of the fish who ate them...

Marilee McNeilus: Of the musselcracker fish.

John Bradshaw: There can't be that many of these shells around.

Marilee McNeilus: No, there aren't too many of them around.

John Bradshaw: No?

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: So you speak about something... some shells are valuable?

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: Quite valuable, some shells?

Marilee McNeilus: Some can be.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Wow, okay.

Marilee McNeilus: And, and this has kind of been polished over or maybe painted over to make it shiny, because the fish is going to start digesting. The digestive juices of the fish are going to start really going to town on that shell.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: So they find a lot of them that are... in fact, that one's, you know, not really a gem... you can imagine gem quality would not... be very difficult to find, would not be too available.

John Bradshaw: This next one over, that, that again looks very similar to the first one we looked at. Same place, is it the Philippines as well?

Marilee McNeilus: Yes, this is Philippines, and this is broderipii. and this is another uncommon Cypraea.

John Bradshaw: Okay. And this, uh, I'm intrigued...

Marilee McNeilus: These two are called, this is, this is rosselli, and this is... they call this "snow on the mountain," but I, I feel like that this maybe has been altered, that maybe they kind of, because they're very clever in... fixing shells up a little bit to make them look good. You know, you can polish them, or you can buff them, or you can do something. But there is, underneath this shell, there's this, the white, there's white as it's growing. And then it closes, and you can find in, in the shell shop or whatever, you can find rosselli in different stages of the white showing. Sometimes the white is zaggy, and sometimes it's not. But if you look, highly look under the magnifying glass, I'm not sure that that actually grew that way. I, you know, bought that a long... actually my husband bought that for me a long time ago.

John Bradshaw: Now, there's a shell I've seen, and it has the most amazing way of closing together, fitting together. When you look at it, it's, it's got this incredible design, which to me suggests it had to have been designed by an intelligent Creator.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Tell me about that one.

Marilee McNeilus: Well, it's right here. This is a cardium. It's an allied cardium. And it, it hinges, I mean, the whole mechanism here. I mean, no, no human can design that little baby. But it fits together. Look at that. It's just the most beautiful thing. But not only, not only the hinging, but look at the, the rows, the... it's a beautiful, beautiful cardium.

John Bradshaw: Oh, it's almost like, um, like teeth or something like that. Not teeth, but...

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, but just...

John Bradshaw: There are rows of them.

Marilee McNeilus: Like rows of beautiful pearl.

John Bradshaw: Uh, do, do many shells have that kind of, um, irregular edge that closes?

Marilee McNeilus: Not, not quite that pronounced.

John Bradshaw: So where would you find something like this? I'm not going to find it at wherever my local beach might be.

Marilee McNeilus: No, no, no. That's a very large specimen of that shell.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: And that's a super shell.

John Bradshaw: And this is found in what part of the world?

Marilee McNeilus: The Philippines.

John Bradshaw: In the Philippines again. So this is not the first time you've mentioned the Philippines. Is the Philippines known as a place that has some impressive shells?

Marilee McNeilus: It is.

John Bradshaw: It is?

Marilee McNeilus: It is.

John Bradshaw: And what do you think it is about the Philippines, or, or...

Marilee McNeilus: It's the water, the islands, the habitat. You know, think about, think about the places in the world where there's beautiful habitat. The islands, the cor...the reefs, the, you know, not deep, real deep water. But, although, there is deep water in some of those places, because some of these things have been coming up in tangle nets. They're found in tangle nets. I've got some other ones that they found in tangle nets, and it's amazing.

John Bradshaw: When I look at this, to me, these are just incredible design pieces. I can't look at that and, and think that nature just got lucky.

Marilee McNeilus: No! That couldn't evolve. There's no way.

John Bradshaw: No, that's really something else. So what are these little guys we've got here?

Marilee McNeilus: This is Harpa costata, another little pretty harp shell. This is from, uh, the Seychelles.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: Uh-huh. Rare shell. And this is a, um, Epitonium rugosa. And these two shells are fairly uncommon. I've collected them, found them myself. So, that was, this is cardinalis, and this is ramulatus.

John Bradshaw: Now, when you find something like that, do you always know what it is you've found? I bet you know more about this than the average person, and you see it, you go, "Aha"! Or will you find a shell and say, "That's interesting. Now, what is this"?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, usually I kind of know.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: I'm looking for something specific. Or I recognize, first of all, cones. The cone is a very common shape, you know; that's recognizable as a cone shell. Cone shells in the Atlantic are very, very... there aren't many species of them in the Atlantic. The color is amazing. Usually you don't see the red. So you know immediately. Like this one was kind of covered in some stuff. You know, I cleaned it up, obviously, but I knew immediately what I had. And the same way with this one, was kind of covered up, but I knew what it was because of the shape.

John Bradshaw: So after collecting shells for a few years now, how often is it that you stumble across... well, probably you don't stumble across too many; you, you purposely go find them. How often now do you find something you've never seen before?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, more often than you think.

John Bradshaw: Oh, really?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah. Even in Florida, even in Sanibel, where I go.

John Bradshaw: So you can go back to Sanibel for the umpteenth time and see something that you've never stumbled on before?

Marilee McNeilus: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Well, that's a bit of an adventure, isn't it?

Marilee McNeilus: It is. It is. It's...-

John Bradshaw: I suppose when you think about it, too, I read a statistic that said something like, it, something like, the oceans are vast, but human beings have only ever explored about five percent of the ocean, or some infinitesimally small amount of the ocean. And if that's the case, then I guess there's a lot out there that's waiting to be found...I suppose. Well, wonderful. I mentioned before that there is a seashell named after you. So, in just a moment, I'd like to see it and find out the story behind the marileeae. I don't know there'll ever be a "johnae" seashell, so, I'd like to have a look at that. Don't go away. We'll be right back in just a moment.

John Bradshaw: Thanks for joining me today. Our conversation today is with Marilee McNeilus, an avid shell collector. Marilee, someone who has even had a shell named after her. What's this little one?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, that is called Conus marileeae.

John Bradshaw: Conus marileeae. It's called Conus because...

Marilee McNeilus: It's a family of cone shell.

John Bradshaw: Cone-shaped.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: And it's called marileeae because you discovered this one?

Marilee McNeilus: Yes.

John Bradshaw: How in the world... or maybe the answer is, is pretty simple, but how in the world do you discover an undiscovered shell?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, I had the privilege of shelling with the Smithsonian on a submersible on the island of Curaçao. And we dove at about 900 to 1,000 feet. And along the way we picked up bottles or anything like debris, ocean debris. And we also were looking for specific shells that were endemic to that area of the world. And then when we came up from the dive, we would sift through this debris. And then the working in the microscopes, because we were looking at it for really small things, and then, you know, the bigger things. And this was one of the, maybe pretty close to one of the bigger things that we found.

John Bradshaw: And you saw this, and you said, "Hey, I've never seen that before".

Marilee McNeilus: Right, and...

John Bradshaw: Really, you did?

Marilee McNeilus: ...everybody said... well, yeah, yes.

John Bradshaw: And folks who were with you said the same thing?

Marilee McNeilus: Yes. And they said, "Yes, we think that might be something different". So we, uh, take this off to the, back to Washington, DC, back to the Smithsonian, back to the... let the malacologist, the curators, have a look-see.

John Bradshaw: Have you found a second one?

Marilee McNeilus: No.

John Bradshaw: No?

Marilee McNeilus: No.

John Bradshaw: I guess if you found this at 1,000 feet in Curaçao, then maybe you're not likely to find one washed up on Sanibel Island.

Marilee McNeilus: No.

John Bradshaw: No?

Marilee McNeilus: No, it won't happen.

John Bradshaw: Fantastic. All right. Let's talk about another couple of, uh, interesting shells, fascinating shells, the ones that you think are cool. What would they be?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, there's a family called Epitoniums. Common name is wentletrap, and they're a beautiful family. I think they're intricately designed. They're worldwide. They're in cold water. They're in warm water. They're on the beach. They're deep-water. And, um, this is an example here; this is what goes in here. You can just look at the intricate design of them. Uh, "wentletrap" is German for "staircase".

John Bradshaw: Do you think many people go, uh, there at the beach or on the rocky shore, and they find something without knowing that they've just discovered something rare or exquisite? Do you think that happens a lot?

Marilee McNeilus: I think that happens a lot.

John Bradshaw: Yeah. It's probably good that we don't know what we picked up, looked at, and discarded while carrying on.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah. But...

John Bradshaw: Some of these are just so remarkably beautiful, and detailed as well.

Marilee McNeilus: That's why it's nice to have a book. You know, I would recommend if you're going to go specifically shelling in a place, or you would want to go, and you're interested in shells, that you would say, "I think I need a book for this area to see what's available here," you know.

John Bradshaw: Now, you've found some interesting shells that aren't shells, or that aren't shells anymore: fossils.

Marilee McNeilus: Oh, yes.

John Bradshaw: Tell me about those, because I believe you found some, or you know of some that have been found, in the least likely places.

Marilee McNeilus: Right. Well, it, that brings up the subject of the chambered nautilus, Nautilus pompilius, and I think we all are kind of familiar with the nautilus. It's a very beautiful shell and very common shell. But there are about three species of nautilus, and, um, the thing about a nautilus is that it, it is a solid, compact thing, but it, it goes up and down and there's the chambers within the nautilus. There's 36 chambers. And there's a siphonal tube that connects the chambers. And, you know, when we go down, if you dive, your body contracts because of the weight of the water. And this shell is down in the deep, and then it comes up, and then it has to go back down again. So it regulates the pressures through this tube in the shell.

John Bradshaw: And these are simple creatures, aren't they?

Marilee McNeilus: These are, yes. But the nautilus is one of the most complex of the, of the mollusks. It's a cephalopod, the same family as a squid and octopus, so they're more intelligent of the, of the mollusks. But, um, the chambered nautilus is also... I, when I see that... you look at the design. We can look at one cut, cut in half, and you can see, and you can see the principle, the mathematical principle of Fibonacci, and the, the golden mean of the design. And that's, that's, to me, a sign of creation, of nature. I mean, God designed this perfect symmetry for strength, for durability. It's the same symmetrical pattern that we see in vegetation and other things in the world, you know, that, that God created. And it's just...that, that's not by accident. That is a divine design.

John Bradshaw: Absolutely. It just has to be.

Marilee McNeilus: It has to be. And what is interesting to me is we've got nautilus, a lot of fossil nautilus around not much different than the original. Where, where's the evolution here?

John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.

Marilee McNeilus: When you're finding them today, and this thing is millions of years old, or so they claim, these rocks. But yet, how can that be?

John Bradshaw: So explain this to me. This looks remarkable. Go ahead.

Marilee McNeilus: This is a slice of a chambered nautilus, and I would like you to look at the shell, and this is the intricate part of the shell. As this nautilus grows, he lives in each section, and he grows and he matures. He closes off a section, and this little opening in here, he regulates his buoyancy through those chambers, because he's, he moves. His, his, his shell, this animal that lives in here, he is, be in the bottom during the day. At night he may move up to feed, in a hundred or change, maybe like a hundred feet or more.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: And so, that, that can't happen unless you regulate the chambers.

John Bradshaw: So, unlike an oyster, which is a shellfish that sits on the bottom and doesn't really move.

Marilee McNeilus: Right. No.

John Bradshaw: This one goes up and down by means of these chambers.

Marilee McNeilus: Chambers.

John Bradshaw: And if you look, there's these little apertures that allow, what, what, what goes through this? Air or water? I don't know.

Marilee McNeilus: I'm not sure. I think it might be a little bit of both possibly.

John Bradshaw: And something passes through here to increase...

Marilee McNeilus: Increase and decrease...

John Bradshaw: ...or decrease the buoyancy...

Marilee McNeilus: ..the buoyancy of this creature. And he bobs along, and he's,, remember, he looks like an oct...he's got a lot of tentacles.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: He's, he's feeding for fish. He's, he's, he's eating fish and squid and other little things, a lot of the little animals.

John Bradshaw: And here is a nautilus. This is, this is a little strip.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Uh, but this is the whole thing...

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: ...pretty much. And when you open it up like that, that's what you see.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: And this evolved?

Marilee McNeilus: No, of course not. Of course not. He created that.

John Bradshaw: This is, this is remarkably intricate...

Marilee McNeilus: It is.

John Bradshaw: ...for, for the purpose of being able to ascend and descend...

Marilee McNeilus: Right. Right.

John Bradshaw: ..and remain buoyant or, or less buoyant.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: I look at these, these simple things... well, it, it's, it gets harder to refer to this as simple.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: You, you, you look at these, these creatures, and you have to simply be in awe of the Creator God who, who gave some simple little creature the ability to build this. This is constructed by the little animal that lives in here.

Marilee McNeilus: Right. And when did, when did man decide the mathematical equation of this shell, or any shell? That, you know... Fibonacci, that Italian mathematician, you know, the golden mean about the, the mathematical equation to strength that is in all kinds of, in all nature.

John Bradshaw: And we find that equation here.

Marilee McNeilus: Yes, yes. You find it in lots of shells.

John Bradshaw: Now here, look, I want to, um, look at this. This isn't...this is or was a nautilus?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: And this has been fossilized, I suppose.

Marilee McNeilus: Right. Uh-huh.

John Bradshaw: Amazing. Where does something like this come from?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, they come from different parts of the world. We've found them in, in South America, you know, in the mountainous areas. And what's neat is... if you want to bring up some of these other trays, I'll show you. [clatter and clinking of shells] And now, these are called ammonites. Ammonites are fossilized...

John Bradshaw: They're heavy ones.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, they're heavy. They're rocks. They're solid rock.

John Bradshaw: So this is obviously a nautilus.

Marilee McNeilus: That's a nautilus. And that one came from Madagascar.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. That little one.

John Bradshaw: Like this?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: But the rest of these, well, I guess these, are what this was; these are rocks.

Marilee McNeilus: Uh-huh, these are rocks.

John Bradshaw: And this one here is from Minnesota.

Marilee McNeilus: Right, from the Red River right over here along the western side of Minnesota.

John Bradshaw: And when you open it up, look what we see inside.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Now, do you find many nautiluses in Minnesota today?

Marilee McNeilus: No, of course not.

John Bradshaw: Okay, so what does this suggest to us?

Marilee McNeilus: It's the Flood. It's the Flood. As the waters receded... you know, you think about the Flood covering the earth and, and the animals in the ark, but the oceans, all these shells and everything were...survived through the flood waters, you know, the turbulence and everything, and, and settled. And so there's, that's why there's so much life in the sea, is because it, it was there from Creation.

John Bradshaw: I want to ask you where this came from.

Marilee McNeilus: Well, I saw it on a table. We were camped at the base camp of Everest, and apparently the people there had collected different rocks from the area. And the man said that it came... pointed up the mountain, so apparently it just probably slid down through a rock slide, or somebody's gone up I don't how many, how many feet.

John Bradshaw: So where were you? At what altitude were you when you found this?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, when I found it, when I bought it from this gentleman, we were at 17,000 feet.

John Bradshaw: At 17,000 feet.

Marilee McNeilus: A little over actually.

John Bradshaw: As far as we know, there aren't too many oceans at 17,000 feet.

Marilee McNeilus: No.

John Bradshaw: So this says, once upon a time, either the ocean was at 17-and-a-half thousand feet, or 17,000 feet was down at the ocean.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: Because the mountains were pushed up...

Marilee McNeilus: Up, right.

John Bradshaw: ...and sometimes in a big hurry.

Marilee McNeilus: Right, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Uh, this appears, would appear to me, particularly with my creationist bent, to demonstrate that at one stage the oceans covered the earth. Things were very, very differently...

Marilee McNeilus: Turbulence. We don't know, you know, the, all the things that went on, the storms and everything, the sea, everything got tossed around and...yeah.

John Bradshaw: That sounds to me like evidence of a flood. And we have more. Oof!

Marilee McNeilus: Now, that's interesting, because these came from Nepal. I was in Nepal in Banepa, working at the Scheer Memorial Hospital. And, um, the rock, there were people along the road that were breaking rocks. Because they break these rocks that come down in kind of slides from the, from the mountains. And they are breaking them up with a hammer. And apparently when they break them, and they find the shell inside, then they toss them aside.

John Bradshaw: They don't want them?

Marilee McNeilus: They don't...well, they know that they can probably sell them...

John Bradshaw: Oh, I see.

Marilee McNeilus: ..for something.

John Bradshaw: They do want them?

Marilee McNeilus: So they want them. So they put everything... if they find a shell inside of a rock, then they toss it over to the side, and, um, so I bought them from these people.

John Bradshaw: Again, that's a nautilus.

Marilee McNeilus: That's a nautilus.

John Bradshaw: At however many thousand feet above sea level.

Marilee McNeilus: I don't know how high we were there...

John Bradshaw: High.

Marilee McNeilus: ...but high.

John Bradshaw: Even in Nepal you're high.

Marilee McNeilus: Well, yes, uh-huh, and we were up in Banepa. Actually just, just above us was one of the Everest base camps.

John Bradshaw: And this one... more of the same, sort of... but this one looks different. This looks like a clam to me.

Marilee McNeilus: It is. That's the Tridacna; that's a shell today. And that, interestingly enough, I bought in Machu Picchu, in Peru.

John Bradshaw: Oh my! In the Andes?

Marilee McNeilus: In the Andes.

John Bradshaw: So a clam in the Andes?

Marilee McNeilus: Andes, right. Definitely marine.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And, uh, the lady, I kind of circled it for a while, and, uh, whether I was going to buy it or not, and she said, "You need to buy that". She says, "You'll never find another one like it". She said, "My father found that up in the hills". So...

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Marilee McNeilus: Anyway, I just thought it was quite unique.

John Bradshaw: It surely is. And so the seashells tell us a story.

Marilee McNeilus: They do.

John Bradshaw: Not just about the, the, the amazing wonders of creation, but also about the Flood story...

Marilee McNeilus: The Flood story.

John Bradshaw: ...validating what happened down through time.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: The waters once covered the earth and left behind telltale signs.

Marilee McNeilus: Signs. If we look, if we notice, if we know. And in those shells in Nepal, there are actually three different species of mollusk, and there's a Scaphopoda in there, and there's also the bivalve in there. I, I looked through all these shells and found, kept looking for different, different species of shells.

John Bradshaw: Seashells in the mountains?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Evidence, again, that the story of the Bible is a story you can believe and trust. I'm going to be right back with more in just a moment.

John Bradshaw: Welcome back. Marilee, we've been exploring your magnificent collection of seashells and other related things. Beautiful creatures, intricate, they speak of an amazing Creator. They speak of the way that God purposely designed some of the most incredible things. So let's take a look at what we have before us here. Walk me through this little part of your collection. What have we got?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, let's start over here with the growth series. We talked about shells and about the fact that they grow and they lay eggs. And we talked about the fact that they grow mega amounts of eggs.

John Bradshaw: And these, these here are eggs, huh?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, those are little, those are actually little villages. They actually are going to be little shells. They came out of this. It's an egg case. This, this shell here lays this beautiful, intricate case for his shell, for his eggs.

John Bradshaw: Oh, is that so?

Marilee McNeilus: Yes.

John Bradshaw: And so the eggs are...

Marilee McNeilus: Are in each one of these little sections. And you look...there should be a little hole in this little sections where the, where they come out when they're developed far enough to survive.

John Bradshaw: Amazing.

Marilee McNeilus: And these are washed up on the beach. What you're holding in your hand has been washed up on the beach.

John Bradshaw: About how many eggs would be in one of these? Got any idea?

Marilee McNeilus: Oh, thousands.

John Bradshaw: Thousands? Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And then you, in the little box that you have...

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: ...those are some that were in there, probably about ready to hatch when they got whipped up on the shore. So they, that's where their life ended, was on the beach.

John Bradshaw: On the beach? So these little guys here, and there's lots and lots of them... I'd like to get, just get one... and so they're ready to... did you say, ready to hatch?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: So from this...

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: ...and they grow to...

Marilee McNeilus: That.

John Bradshaw: ...this?

Marilee McNeilus: Correct.

John Bradshaw: Isn't that something?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah. Isn't that amazing?

John Bradshaw: Fantastic! So they, they just grow, I, I, I guess, like things grow.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: And go from here to here.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Fantastic!

Marilee McNeilus: And the little animal spends his life in that shell eating, growing, developing.

John Bradshaw: By the way, this, this fellow here, this is heavy.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: But it's not immobile. It moves around.

Marilee McNeilus: It moves around. It crawls around.

John Bradshaw: The, the creature inside literally carries it on his back.

Marilee McNeilus: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: It's a one-unit shell gastropod, which means... "gastro" is "stomach"; foot..."pod" is "a foot". So he crawls around on his belly basically, on his foot. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Hey, something earlier you mentioned, some of these are carnivorous.

Marilee McNeilus: Correct.

John Bradshaw: So rather than just filtering... I don't know what they eat... filter-feeders just filter the water and keep whatever they can find.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: When you say some of these creatures are carnivorous, what do they eat?

Marilee McNeilus: They eat each other.

John Bradshaw: Heh...okay. Wow. Doesn't sound very nice. Uh, how does one of these eat one of these?

Marilee McNeilus: Well...I'm not sure. The horse conch, that's a Florida, the large Florida shell, will come along and will work its way into the shell underneath the operculum.

John Bradshaw: The operculum being this little trap door.

Marilee McNeilus: Trap door, mm-hmm. It'll wiggle its way in and attack, basically attack tulip shells, which are another one that's... I can show you... they also are carnivorous; they will attack that whelk.

John Bradshaw: So you have the little creature in here...

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: ...will spy another creature like this, will creep out from behind his trap door, and just go after him and, and kill him and eat him.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: It's pretty rough. There's some rough justice down there under the waves.

Marilee McNeilus: Yes, there are.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: This, these are quite shallow-water animals actually.

John Bradshaw: Are they? And, and, and where would you find one of these? What, what part of the world?

Marilee McNeilus: That's from Sanibel.

John Bradshaw: Ah, again?

Marilee McNeilus: Florida.

John Bradshaw: United States?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Okay. Now, this here, this is a, this a conch, right?

Marilee McNeilus: A Strombus.

John Bradshaw: And you find these in the Caribbean?

Marilee McNeilus: The Caribbean, Florida.

John Bradshaw: Yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: They were, they're pretty well wiped out in Florida.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, you go to some parts of the Caribbean, they eat these like crazy.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: And so these, the, the, the supply must be dwindling.

Marilee McNeilus: It is.

John Bradshaw: They're very beautiful.

Marilee McNeilus: It's a very beautiful shell. The animal, again, carries... and, and it's heavy, it's a heavy shell.

John Bradshaw: That's really heavy.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, so he's a strong animal. There's two notches there where his eye stalks come, right on that end, right there.

John Bradshaw: This on the end?

Marilee McNeilus: Uh-huh. That's called a stromboid notch, and that's where he crawls along and...

John Bradshaw: Looks?

Marilee McNeilus: ...and looks out.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Now, if you go to the Bahamas and you pay 5 or 10 dollars for one of these, can you bring it back home to the United States?

Marilee McNeilus: No, no, no.

John Bradshaw: Ah. Okay. So you've gotta be careful with that, right?

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, they're kind of, they're... they'll probably sell them to you, but they're, they would confiscate them probably at customs...

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: ...because they are endangered.

John Bradshaw: And this one there is similar but different.

Marilee McNeilus: This one is different because... I'll let you carry that; that's pretty heavy.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, it is!

Marilee McNeilus: Um, it's got a little hole in it.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: And how'd that hole get there?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, that was the fisherman that did that. They know...they take the tube; they look at the notches, one, two nodules back.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: See? Look at the back side. Turn it over. See there's one, two...and then they cut on the bumps...

John Bradshaw: Oh.

Marilee McNeilus: ...on the nodules.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And...

John Bradshaw: That's to get the creature out?

Marilee McNeilus: That's to get the creature out.

John Bradshaw: So that's how they...

Marilee McNeilus: And they...well, they pull him the other way. They've just released him from the shell, because he's attached, you know.

John Bradshaw: Oh, I see.

Marilee McNeilus: So they...

John Bradshaw: They bring him out this way?

Marilee McNeilus: And then they pull him out.

John Bradshaw: Ahhh.

Marilee McNeilus: And then they throw the shell overboard. Or if you're lucky enough, like I was, to find a fresh conch pile. What I call "fresh" means the animal hasn't started to deteriorate. Um, then you can bring them home. I think they probably let you come in with, with one that's been cut... I don't know that.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, that's really beautiful.

Marilee McNeilus: You, if you'll notice the lip on that...

John Bradshaw: That's this part?

Marilee McNeilus: Mmm, this part. See, as the animal, when the animal's alive, he's constantly maintaining, because he goes, slides part, partial of his body, where his foot comes out, and so it's nice and shiny.

John Bradshaw: He's polishing it as he goes?

Marilee McNeilus: He's polishing it as he goes. There's a layer of nacreous coming down. So you can see it's thick, it's thick there.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And so that means that he's kind of old.

John Bradshaw: Now, this here, this is fascinating.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Uh, again, these shells are made by the little guy inside.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: So he, he fashions and forms each of these spikes.

Marilee McNeilus: That's right.

John Bradshaw: What's the idea? Is this, is this defense?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, I think it's helped, it helps with actually a food source, because, you see, he lives in a fixed position; wherever this little villager falls, he lives there his entire life. So on these spines, when you see them in nature, in the, in the ocean, those spines are covered with little sponges and algaes and all kinds of growth around them. So it's just like their own little ecosystem.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: And then the fish come and eat this, and then they bring this, and then pretty soon all this life is going on around this shell. And he opens just a little tiny bit. You can just open him just a little ways. Just like that, there he is.

John Bradshaw: Like that?

Marilee McNeilus: Uh-huh. And then he's filtering his nutrients out of this water. But what keeps the nutrients going on there are all the life around him. So the spines help capture what is around him.

John Bradshaw: Fascinating, isn't it?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. But when he's cleaned up, he looks pretty good.

John Bradshaw: Oh, he looks really good.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Uh, so the spines help create the ecosystem that guarantee he's got a food supply?

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: Magnificent. Now, this here looks like a prehistoric tool. Uh, but it's more than that. In fact, look at the way this is made, how this just goes together like that.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: That's amazing. And this is...

Marilee McNeilus: It's a hammer oyster, common name, hammer oyster.

John Bradshaw: A hammer oyster.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. He lives just in that little dark spot there. That's where the animal lives.

John Bradshaw: That's an elaborate home for a little guy.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: Wonderful. And I would suggest that the reason there's so much variety is because God is a God of variety.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: And all these various means are God's way of saying, "Look at what a great Creator I am".

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: "I designed all of this, and these processes take place," and these animals are given great, I think, intelligence, and, and they have tremendous amounts of skill. That's just beautiful.

Marilee McNeilus: It is.

John Bradshaw: Really. That's, that's cool. Now, when you see this in the, in the sea, and where would this come from?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, that was from Fiji.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: And it just laying, just laying, wasn't hooked to anything, it was just laying.

John Bradshaw: Just there?

Marilee McNeilus: Just laying on the ground.

John Bradshaw: Cool. Okay. How about these guys? What are these?

Marilee McNeilus: Okay. These are, this family here is called Pleurotomaria. This is, um, common name is a slit shell. You can see the long slit here.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: All this, characteristic of these shells. The only time most people are going to see these would be in a shell store or a museum.

John Bradshaw: And that's because of what?

Marilee McNeilus: That's because they're very deep-water.

John Bradshaw: How deep?

Marilee McNeilus: How deep? Well, I was with the Smithsonian and collected this in about 2,500 feet of water.

John Bradshaw: Oh. Wow.

Marilee McNeilus: Deep. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Not even easy to see down there.

Marilee McNeilus: Well, it is with the lights of, lights of the submarines.

John Bradshaw: Otherwise... So, so these guys... and, and I, I don't want to break it, break it, but I guess, I guess it's pretty hardy. This here is really beautiful, but no one sees it.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: Even at 2,500 feet under the water, where you and I... well, you are the exception, but most people will never go, never see it... there's beauty down there.

Marilee McNeilus: That's right.

John Bradshaw: Wherever you go you can see God's handiwork.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, that's...

John Bradshaw: In these out-of-the-way places.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah, you know, here again, the Flood. Why is, you know, why did God put all these beautiful things so deep in the ocean?

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: It's just like, you know, for us to explore.

John Bradshaw: That's right. And when you get to wherever it is you're going, you can, you can see God was here first.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And He left, uh, telltale signs of His wonderful creative power.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm, yeah.

John Bradshaw: I see. And this little, the trap door, that's the operculum?

Marilee McNeilus: That's the operculum.

John Bradshaw: And he lives behind that?

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: All right. And he, he can move that, he can move that at will?

Marilee McNeilus: He moves, he moves, he moves, he crawls along, just like he's a gastropod; he comes out like a snail; he goes along. And this is, this is midas. We also collected midas on that, in that same area.

John Bradshaw: This here, what is this?

Marilee McNeilus: That is a glass sponge. It's a Hexactinellid and it is deep-water from the Philippines. And this is the living animal. Sponges are living animals.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: They're living animals?

Marilee McNeilus: They're living animals, and if you look at that closely, you can look at the beautiful pattern, and if you touch the end there, it feels like glass sponge, because that's what it is. It's sponge, but it's like glass sponge.

John Bradshaw: Like fiberglass?

Marilee McNeilus: Fiberglass, mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: So, here, this has got...

John Bradshaw: For something living, it seems like it has a few bits missing, but that's okay.

Marilee McNeilus: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: And what's on the inside?

Marilee McNeilus: Well, I'm not sure, but I think they're dead fish.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah?

Marilee McNeilus: And we just saw a special on Nat Geo about them being crabs in there.

John Bradshaw: Ahh.

Marilee McNeilus: But, the, the story, or the legend is, um, that the fish when they're very teeny-tiny, they swim in and out of this little basket. This is called a Venus wedd... it's called Venus wedding basket. And the little fish swim in and out, in and out, and then if you don't get busy and swim out pretty soon, if you're going to grow, you're not going to be able to get out the little holes.

John Bradshaw: Oh, is that so?

Marilee McNeilus: So, you get a male and a female in here, and they grow, and they keep growing, and pretty soon they're never going to get out. And then, if they reproduce, their little babies are gonna go, and they're gonna get away. And they can swim out and swim out. And these are presented to a bride and groom at the wedding in the Philippines. And it's presented as "Till death do you part," because you cannot...

John Bradshaw: Oh, how interesting.

Marilee McNeilus: ...cannot leave your home...

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Marilee McNeilus: this basket thing.

John Bradshaw: Okay, one last thing I want to ask you about. In the Bible you don't read lots of mentions of seashells. There's Lydia, who traded with shells, but there is the pearl of great price.

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: Talk to me about that.

Marilee McNeilus: Well, every shell basically is capable of producing a pearl, because a pearl is a irritant that comes into the shell. The irritant comes into the mantle where the shell, where the liquid is being produced by the shell, and the first instinct is to get rid of it. Just like if something, if you and I have a problem, we just get rid of it, ignore it. But pretty soon it's pretty fixed in there, and it can't. So as it's building the nacre, nacreous, from the shell, it starts coating that irritant, be it sand, rock, or whatever, and so every time it secretes something from the shell, it puts it around that irritant to smooth it and cover it. So in that process, a pearl is made out of the shell.

John Bradshaw: So, of course, the pearl of great price was something harvested from a seashell?

Marilee McNeilus: From a seashell.

John Bradshaw: So Jesus, in one of His great illustrations, Jesus in one of His great lessons, spoke about a seashell...

Marilee McNeilus: Right.

John Bradshaw: ...which produced a pearl, very valuable.

Marilee McNeilus: Very valuable. And you think about where they were and where the best pearls are today, like off the coast of Australia, Japan, you know, where the shells, pearls are being produced, the shells that produce the best pearls. How did that shell there produce the pearl that ended up in the Middle East?

John Bradshaw: So, the story would indicate that the pearl of great price was of great price partly because, in all likelihood, it had been imported from a great distance away.

Marilee McNeilus: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Fantastic.

Marilee McNeilus: And, in that time, people didn't know about cultivating pearls. Now we have cultured pearls where they take a shell... I want to show you an example. [rattle and clinking of shells] And an example of, this is from Western Australia, where they've actually gone in and taken and put a plug here and let the shell put the nacreous on top of it as it's growing, and then they take this, cut it out, put the two halves together, polish it off so you never would realize what you've...what they've done. The odds of a pearl producing, a shell producing a pearl are great odds.

John Bradshaw: Sure, very, yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: And especially a perfect pearl. And here are examples of little pieces of pearls, mostly produced by the Strombus.

John Bradshaw: Oh yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm. You can see the color, the color variations.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, they're magnificent.

Marilee McNeilus: They're beautiful, but they're irregular.

John Bradshaw: Sure.

Marilee McNeilus: They're not perfect. There would... they wouldn't command a price anywhere. You know, we don't know in Christ's time what... you know, they knew the value of a pearl, because Paul talks a lot in the Bible about wearing pearls and about casting your pearls to the swine, and so they knew there was some value in the pearl.

John Bradshaw: Yeah.

Marilee McNeilus: Mm-hmm.

John Bradshaw: Well, this has been fantastic, a lot of fun. It's been amazing, enlightening, and, for me, a great encouragement that we have a wonderful Creator who has produced some incredible things.
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