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Conchology Section
Auckland Museum Institute

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Newsletter - April 2000

The April meeting was well attended although the treasurer and a new member were nearly left out in the cold. Fortunately Nick attracted attention to their plight by knocking on the window. Glenys welcomed new member Rosa Tyson, 16 Kain St. Mt. Eden, Auckland, Phone 620 4523.

The Conchology Section sends condolences to member Don Watson (Wellington) who recently lost his daughter, Ann, in the Lindis Pass plane crash. Our thoughts are with you.

SPEAKER FOR THE EVENING was Dr. Carol Diebel, the recently appointed curator of the Marine Department of the Auckland Museum. Carol showed a video with fascinating footage of what you might see from a submersible descending to1000m in the Caribbean. The video was made to persuade possible sponsors that the work was important. They were impressed by the fact that some of the animals are new to science. One of the vertically striped fish in this category was christened “Bambi”!

Two people are seated, the pilot in front operating numerous complex controls and the scientist behind controlling cameras and obtaining samples. Each trip lasts about 4 hours in relative comfort. On the sea floor the bottom is mushy made up of calcium carbonate. As well as video recording and photographs there are options to collect specimens. There was a sequence of the crayfish that got away despite most careful manoeuvering of the catching device which includes suction. Many of the species are blind, but respond effectively to other stimuli. It was expected that olfactory senses would be important, but experiments found this is not always the case. Fish can rely on the lateral line to pick up vibrations while crustacea have antennae up to three times the body length. One of Carol’s favourites is a blind lobster that lives in a burrow.

The more fragile jelly-like creatures showed all their wonderful gyrations on the screen, but have a tendency to arrive at the surface to greet the eager scientists as a jar of tinted water! This was especially frustrating in the case of an orange ctenophore (comb jelly) not seen before! It was exciting to see the complete animal then be treated to close-up action shots of structures like cilia. An artistically inclined decorator crab held a glass sponge over its carapace with the back legs. Other animals on the video included rat fish, sail fish, ray sharks, crinoids, holothurians, polychaete worms and a huge isopod measuring 30cm which had been attracted to bait. A finned octopus demonstrated its speedy locomotion and very large eyes. Many species of squid are present, some blast ink at the submersible. As the submersible raises there is a lot of bioluminescence. Tuna sometimes follow the vessel up and down.
The temperature at 1000m is 6°C, but 26° on the surface, so the ascent is done very slowly to minimise damage to the specimens. The majority arrive alive and are immediately transferred in specially cooled tanks on deck where they can be observed. Scientists expert in different systematics do their research onboard the vessel . They carry out various physiological experiments in a special cold box.. A place to wear winter clothes ! Other specimens are sent away for further study.
We thank Carol for showing this unique video with her personal commentary.

Glenn Carter brought in a tray of colourful overseas Haliotis spp. Among them were specimens of H. discus hannai, H. spadicea, H. scalaris, H. ovina, H. roei and H. corrugata.
Joan Coles showed a display of shells taken from Northland craypots. They included Tonna, Alcithoe, Astraea heliotropium, Penion and Ranella australasia, Semicassis pyrum and S. royanum.

Glenys thanked Peter Poortman who is now updating the home page on the internet. You can check out the newsletter, list of members and Shell Show information. If you have high quality specimens for lots in the Shell Show auction contact Glenys Stace. If you need any help in preparing entries for the Shell Show contact a committee member.

If you have not paid your subscription this will be your last newsletter. Please post overdue subs to the treasurer, Nick de Carteret, 117 Wood Bay, Titirangi, Auckland. Phone (09) 817 7019.

We thank all contributors to the memorial Poirieria for Jim Goulstone, especially Nancy Smith who wrote the bibliography, compiled the articles and prepared them for publication, with some help from Margaret. Does anyone know the references for reports written by Jim on the Waiau River, a fossil deposit from Mangere Sewage ponds or arboreal snails from a reserve near Bethell’s Beach? Phone Nancy (09) 4789915.

NEXT MEETING TUESDAY 9 MAY 2000 At the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Entry by the Administration door between 7 15 and 7 45pm. No late admittance.
The speaker will be our patron, Professor John Morton. His title is “Rupert Sheldrake and the new biology”. No doubt John will thoroughly intrigue and entertain in his unique fashion.
Bring a tray of Struthiolaria species or other specimens of interest. There will be a door prize of Strombus pugilis, live taken at Pine Island, Florida in 1983. As usual Doug will be offering tempting shells on the trading table.

Margaret Morley Phone 576 8323     Email Peter Poortman
Conchology Section website http://members.tripod com/~nz_seashells


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