CORAL: Guido, how long have you been working inten-
sively with marine snails?
Poppe: My interest in these snails began when I was
about 14 years old, when my parents gave me a little
book on the subject. My father was a hobby fisherman,
so during my childhood I spent a lot of time on the rivers and coasts of Belgium and France, where I had the
opportunity to collect snails even as a young child. Over
the years this passion became my profession, and when I
was 40, my snails found their way into important collections, such as those in the natural history museums in
Paris, Brussels, and Genf. The move to the Philippines,
instigated by my son Philippe, made possible access to
an incredible, practically undisturbed biodiversity right
on my doorstep.
CORAL: What do you feel are the most significant books
you have published?
Poppe: The books on the marine mollusks of the Philip-
pines are without doubt the most important: Philippine
Marine Molluscs, Volumes 1 and 2, have already been
published, and we are currently working on the third.
They represent the definitive information on the spe-
cies of this archipelago. As regards my earlier works, the
monograph on the Pectinidae of the world (co-authored
by Bret Raines) should be mentioned; it documents the
biodiversity of the family and also the economic impor-
tance of these mollusks. Then there is European Seashells,
Volumes 1 and 2, early works that remain very popular
among snail experts and other enthusiasts.
CORAL: How many dives have you made in recent years in
the Philippines, and how many photos have resulted?
Poppe: Since 2003 we have made 1,752 dives in the
central Philippines, visiting more than 200 different
dive sites—the northernmost at the island of Boracay
(north of the island of Panay) and the southernmost
at the island of Aliguay to the northwest of Mindanao.
To the west we have investigated the coasts of Panay
and Negros, and to the east the islands of Ticao and
Samar. There are usually four of us when we dive. Two
or three of us look for unusual specimens and bring
them to the attention of the fourth, the photographer.
This has resulted in 300,000–400,000 photos, 60,000 of
them unusual and of adequate quality to be used in the
documentation of the underwater fauna of this region.
Some 500 of them are top-notch photos. Typically, the
camera shutter has to be released 700 times to obtain
one such exceptional photo. One thousand seven hun-