Dear Lynn and other sentimentalists,
The memory is more of a man and his style than any ecological take-away
message (except thet the colonies seemed to recognize territorial limits
and, at least in the short term, maintain them).
Aguayo was a man of 65 years when I sat with him in July, 1964. Like our
late friend, Al Romeu, he was a gentlemanly sort, born and raised in Cuba.
As best I recall, he was an adherent of Battista, but he left Cuba in 1958,
shortly before the General's ultimate defeat. He was fortunate in finding a
professorial position at the U of M (Mayaguëz), where he continued work in
conchology. Despite his age, he snorkeled in offshore waters (to depths of
20 feet and more) in pursuit of marine mollusks. It was from vivid
first-hand experience that he mappped out the "turfs" (my word not his) of
the Strombus spp. for me. I should have saved the map/diagram he drew,
full of notations about bottom types, depths, and irregular ploygons for
each colony's distribution.
We went out that afternoon and were immediately disconcerted by extremely
turbid waters. Something impelled us to press on, however. After swimming
several hundred meters, we reached the first polygon indicating an expected
colony. Diving through the murk, we got to within 1 meter of the bottom
(sandy-mud and grass in varying proportions) before seeing anything but our
hands - nada. Again discouraged by the lack of prospects, we dove again
and again. Had the buggers moved on? Was the map defective? Wait! After
a half dozen or so duds (at 20 feet, mind you), there they were - hundreds
of S. pugilis, active and beautiful - to say as far as the eye could see is
certainly not hyperbole. That was a sight to remember! I don't recall the
discovery the other colonies very well, but I'll tell you that, a few
hundred meters away we did S. gigas, then another hundred or so meters, S.
raninus, and (by now in great need of buoyancy to offset our glutted
collecting bags), the Milk Conch, S. costatus. We reported by phone to Dr.
Aguayo that night. That was the last conversation I had with him.
To those who don't know much of the halcyon years of twentieth century
American (sensu lato) conchology, allow me to tell you a very little bit
about Carlos Aguayo. He earned his PhD at age 25 and proceeded to publish
over 125 scientific papers, mostly on marine mollusks and mostly of Cuba.
He was a good friend of Bill Clench and collaborated with him and with H.
A. Pilsbry. Cuba and the U. S. had not just "relations," but warm ones.
In fact the American Malacological Union had its annual meeting in Havana
on at least one occasion. Cuban and U. S. malacologists visited one another
often. Like their mentor Carlos de la Torre, Aguayo, Isabel Farfante, and
Miguel Jaume travelled to Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia often and
were well known and respected by their American counterparts. That is
Today conchology is not dead in Cuba, but, with the exception of some fine
work by (Spaniard) Emilio Rolán and his collaborators, it is close to
moribund. One waxes a bit wistful on reflection of the good old days vs.
the past forty years of relative stasis. And I suppose Prof. Carlos Aguayo
was no less aware of this predicament when I was in his company than we are
today, and I know he greatly regretted the geopolitical catastrophe he
barely escaped. Despite misgivings and nostalgia, he completed a fine
career in his adoptive Borinquen, where he died about 15 years later.
Perhaps others can add to this brief retrospective on a man and his times,
At 10:09 AM 11/1/99 -0500, you wrote:
>"Harry G. Lee" wrote:
>> Dear Alan,
>..... I'll never
>> forget Carlos Aguayo, who had emigrated to th University of Mayaguëz,
>> instructing me on the patterns of distribution of Strombus off the nearby
>> shore (S. pugilis, S. gigas, S. raninus, and S. costatus each had its
>Tell us more about Aguayo's instruction on these distribution patterns,
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Harry G. Lee
1801 Barrs St.
Jacksonville, Fl. 32204
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