Rika Goethaels was born in 1965 and fell in love with shells at the age of 14. She started collecting and studying European shells, especially specimens from Northern Europe. Next to shells, she was also fascinated by marine life, and at the age of 18 she became a nature guide. Her study of languages at university gave her the opportunity to combine her interest in languages with her love for marine life in writing a thesis about the dialect names for sea organisms – the perfect excuse to visit local pubs to interview the fishermen…
After graduating, she first went into teaching for a while, and then joined a shipping company which serviced the crossing between Belgium and Great-Britain. That was where she met her husband Fernand De Donder, with whom she shared her passion for shells. They soon started a collection of Pectinidae together. Trading shells caused their collection of doubles to increase at a rapid pace, and as such they decided to start participating in shell shows.
Rika and Fernand have been in business since 1992, and during this time their knowledge, love and admiration of sea shells has only grown, and its great diversity has never ceased to amaze them.
As you can see, dedondershells sells worldwide sea shells, but tends to specialize in European shells and Philippine shells of deeper waters. Although you will find plenty of Cypraeidae and Conidae on the lists, you will notice that they are primarily fascinated by smaller families which are often treated in a stepmotherly fashion.
Fernand and Rika live in Peutie, close to Brussels Airport, where Rika works with Belgian immigration. They share a house with 4 cats… which really does oblige them to be very careful with their shells. One cat “came with the house” and the other 3 just wandered into their garden.
All of their spare time goes into shells. Together, they regularly travel in search of new shells to study and offer to their customers. Up until now they have discovered some species which were named in their honour (Calliostoma dedonderi, Terebra dedonderi, Antillophos dedonderi, Pararetifusus dedonderi, Pseudotalopa fernandrikae, Talabrica rikae etc.). They also try to attend most major shell shows in France, Germany, Great-Britain, Holland, the Czech Republic and of course their home country Belgium. They always look forward to meeting their customers there and to discuss shells with fellow enthousiasts.
Fernand & Rika