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Auckland Museum Institute

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Newsletter - April 2008

President's Report
In case you missed the last meeting - here's a summary of events.
Doug Snook gave his usual report on molluscan related excerpts from the papers and also some recent photos from visiting Whatipu. Not to mention a pair of fresh Maurea tigris found by his grandchildren on the spring low tide there.
Peter Poortman had a tray of various, in fact all the species of Schizoglossa (Rhytididae) to show us, and a fascinating story of tracking down over many years (by abseiling to difficult limestone cliff crevices) the extremely rare (and extinct) Schizoglossa major.
Barb Bycroft brought a display of freshwater mussels including those she found near Mair Park, Whangarei after heavy floods had disturbed them last year, and larger, possibly American species, acquired in last year's auction. Discussion about the diversity of their family, the Unionidae, worldwide ensued.
Gladys Goulstone brought and read to us, a lovely poem about snails written by her (then 10 year old?) daughter for her father, the late Jim Goulstone much missed by the club and intrepid snail hunter that he was.
Nancy Smith told us about the relationship between the Murex species of the Mediteranean and the discovery in ancient times that they contained an intense purple dye colour. This "Tyrian Purple" caused vast numbers of murex to be harvested and the new intense colour was reserved for nobility like Julius Caesar and spoken of by the likes of Virgil and Pliny.
Nick Britton brought along a tray of 8 superb examples of Powelliphanta he obtained from the dispersal of the Wagner Museum Collection. More than that, he had a story about each taxon, and had either tramped to its habitat location or met the descendent of the original collector, or otherwise had an interesting story to tell about that particular variety of Powelliphanta. He also distributed copies of an article he had recently written about an early snail collector in NZ.
Luen Jones told us about an interesting looking nudibranch he found at low tide at Motuihe Island recently. It had blue spots and feathery gills. Margaret was at Whatipu with the Museum field trip so could not help Luen with its identity.
And lastly, I (Martin Walker) had small several items: a few Corculum cardissa from Philippines to which I wanted to express my admiration for their evolutionary cleverness in reversing their shape from all other bivalves in order to thwart the tenacious pull of a starfish (my theory only, not proven) - study the Corculum's shape to see what I mean. And then an attractive fivesome of Helicostyla recently bought in an internet auction as H.calobapta but more likely a calobapta impersonating pattern/form of the very common H.virgata. And three heavy-lipped and large (to 61.4mm) Cyclophorus bought in an Origins store in the local mall. Also a lovely Camaena mamilla crassiventris most surprisingly found in the same store! Then a Volema cochlidium from Manila Bay, a most perfect and pleasing-shaped shell, and I understand from a most polluted place.

May Meeting
Margaret Morley will be speaking about the New Zealand Ostreidae family. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing Margaret speak - Margaret is wonderful to listen to, very knowledgeable about her topics and always includes wonderful examples and field trip anecdotes.
Please bring along any shell that has been commonly termed an oyster - there seems to be a lot of worldwide shells with this title!
Feel free to arrive from 7:15 pm onwards with the meeting to commence at 7:30 pm. As usual there will be lucky door prizes (thanks to Doug and Judith Snook), supper, shells for sale and a great chance to catch up with fellow club members.
When: Tuesday, 13th May 2008 from 7.15 pm.
Where: Epsom Community Centre, 202 Gillies Avenue.

2009 Shell Show
Committee meeting to be held at 6:30 pm on 13th May (prior to regular meeting). If you would like to be a part of this committee please feel free to attend and assist Doug Snook, Peter Poortman and Heather Smith.

Shell Auction
It was agreed at the committee meeting to reschedule the Auckland Shell Auction for later in the year.
Wellington club are currently sorting out a date (thought to be October 2008) for their auction and we shall try and co-ordinate a time at least four weeks before this.
We shall advise dates as soon as they are to hand.

A gentle reminder that subscriptions are now overdue.
If you have not paid, please forward your payment to Club Treasurer, Luen Jones: 1A Rewarewa Road, Te Atatu Peninsula, Waitakere 0610.

Our 2008 Club Survey and Discussion of the Results
Firstly, thanks to all 32 members who took the time to complete the survey and those who made specific suggestions for activities.
The results are tabulated below.
A word of explanation: Of the 32, 3 are out-of-towners. The out-of-towners and several others had reasons why not all the questions were relevant. For example, several Committee Members emailed me their responses to what turned out to be just a draft of the final survey. On that version there were less questions, in a different order, and no last section (about the Shell Interests of those members). So that is why there are fewer returns for the later questions. And that is why your president is the only one who admitted to using the internet to buy shells!
Now what can we conclude?
I found the survey showed people were very accepting of focusing through the year on widely differing aspects of our hobby. Some keenness to have field trips, but a couple of warnings that they had been less well attended in recent years apart from some "offshore island excursions".
There is a surprising lack of use of the internet either to study their shells or to acquire new ones. We might have to address this soon!
There is relatively little interest in having meetings focused on displaying your shells or computerising them. Nevertheless, a large number enjoy both the scientific side of the hobby, as well as appreciating the sheer beauty and variety of shells.
Perhaps our membership is currently more about sharing meetings together, and listening to interesting speakers, than about acquiring collections or specialising intensively in specific areas. That is my conclusion.
We didn't ask any questions about NZ versus Foreign, nor Marine versus Land/Freshwater but I think 50 years of stats on that tell us what we already know. Please feel free to offer up your own ideas on what we should learn from this survey, or on what we should do about it. It would be great to hear your interpretations.

A = a not to be mised treat
B = I'd try to attend a meeting/event on that subject
C = parts I might appreciate but not entirely, and so I might not get there
D = I might very likely not make it to that meeting/event.

How to house, store, display shells594624
How to computerise your collection, print labels ex computer588526
How to clean or preserve shells or their animals8102626
Displaying and Competing in Shell Shows2661024
A family, books on that family, maybe id'ing shells of that family that were brought along876324
Identifying or discussing any shells that were brought along that particular night10113125
Meeting where we notify of the shells we want ID'ed so members come prepared to help9114125
Fossil Shells6154126
Micro Shells766524
Microscopy, Photography, Dissection676726
Shell Craft Work5451226
Internet Res for shell enthusiasts, from picture sites to literature resources to chat forums598426
Internet Sites where shells are sold or auctioned555924
Conservation Issues affecting shells & shell collectors994224
Reminiscences and Comparisons, past vs. present. Can info be salvaged?8103324
Hearing from Research Students or Professionals on their current (shell-related) research1411.51.5027
History and Anecdotes of historic Shell Workers, plus their Taxonomy, Nomenclature10102224

Field TripsABCDTotal
Low tide collecting12101326
Visits to members collections756523
Visits to Institute collections, aquariums, laboratories, etc9101525
How to house, store, display shells565723
Eating, drinking, telling shelling yarns etc765624

Shell InterestsABCDTotal
I currently attend the monthly club meetings762520
In previous years I attended the monthly meetings55.52.5316
In future years I intend to attend the monthly meetings565.52.519
I enjoy the scientific side of the hobby118.50.5020
I enjoy the sheer beauty and variety of shells1650122
I have a collection1431321
I self-collect, or I would like to1431321
I use the internet to learn about shells751821
I use the internet to buy shells1321420


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