Auckland Shell Club
We were all deeply saddened to hear that one of our long standing members, Betty Grange, had passed away.
Betty and Bob spent many years and a lot of energy supporting our club. In particular, Bob was a past President and Betty addressed envelopes and posted out the newsletter for many years.
They have a wonderful collection of shells housed in their home at Houhora in the Far North, and were highly regarded exhibitors at almost all of our National Shell Shows.
We will all miss Betty, and send our sincere condolences to Bob and his two children Ken and Christine and their families.
Bob intends to continue living in Houhora and if any of our members are up that way, do call in on him!
Our first meeting of the year was well attended and even included some new faces.
We were shocked to hear that Betty Grange had succumbed to her recent illness. There followed much reminiscing about Betty, including tales of Bob and Betty's somewhat irreverent sense of humour!
There was some discussion about the failed relocation of Powelliphanta augusta from Solid Energy's open cast coal mine in Happy Valley (Upper Waimangaroa Valley) on the West Coast.
Also discussed was Steve O'Shea's ongoing efforts to raise a giant squid in captivity. His "squidcam" can be viewed at http://www.aut.ac.nz/research/research-institutes/eos/whats-new/squidcam.
Margaret then took the floor with a very interesting presentation on her research into Pleurobranchaea maculata. This is the grey side-gilled sea slug that was responsible for a spate of dog poisonings in the Auckland region in winter 2009. Evidently the poisonings were caused by the tetrodotoxin (ttx) secreted by P.maculata. Tetrodotoxin is a very lethal neurotoxin that had not been recorded in NZ before, however subsequent testing of ethanol preserved specimens now indicates that it has been present in NZ since at least 2004. It is produced by a bacteria, and is present in other species including puffer fish from the Pacific and Japan.
More specimens of P.maculata are needed for testing, particularly from outside the Auckland area. But be aware of handling the slugs - wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when leaving the beach, especially before eating. Do not take dogs or children while collecting. Phone Margaret on 09 576 8323 to report any slugs found, and deep freeze them away from food!
P.maculata is a soft sea-slug, no shell, about 80-100mm adult length. It's body is smooth to touch but covered with minute puckers and folds. Colour pale grey, densely patterned with short brownish-black lines. The feathery gill is partly hidden under the right side and extends further when the animal gets stressed. The rhinopores (antennas) are widely placed on each side of the head. It is found in the North and South Islands in all habitats from intertidal in harbours to depths of 250m off open rocky coasts. It is not usually common, but opisthobranchs are well known to appear either in big numbers or be absent or rare.
Last but not least, our attention turned to Heather's unusual fossils from Coopers Beach.
Heather has scoured that beach and reports that they were only found in the vicinity of the stream. She displayed a large tray full of these fossils which resolved into two distinct forms, both of which bore a resemblance to some type of animal droppings.
Heather had thoughtfully also brought in some recent samples of sheep droppings for comparison!
More than a dozen explanations from knowledgeable and imaginative people have so far been offered. These vary enormously ... Eg. lightning strikes, mining waste, bore holes, fossilised vegetation, natural mineral formations, etc. but the consensus seems to be coprolites (fossilised animal droppings).
In any case, they probably originated a long time ago, possibly millions of years ago - apologies to our Creationist members!
Heather has sent photos to America for identification, so hopefully we can report more on this later.
It is indeed a very interesting mystery!
202 Gillies Avenue, Epsom at 7:30pm on Tuesday 9th of March (doors open at 7pm)
The theme ... Australia!
Heather will present photos and talk about her experiences in Australia since we saw her last. We will be taken on a virtual site-seeing tour of Perth and the Eighth Australian National Shell Show. People from all over Australia and some NZ'ers attended this show that is organised every even year.
Heather's talks are always interesting, entertaining, and bubbling with enthusiasm, so don't miss out on what promises to be another delightful evening!
Please bring along some Australian Shells, even if it is only one shell.
Shell related news and items of interest (Eg. recent finds, media articles, etc.) are always appreciated.
A large variety of shells will be on sale. Bring any thing you would like to sell - remember, one man's rubbish may be another man's treasure!
Supper will be provided, as well as our regular shell raffle kindly donated by Doug & Judith Snook.
We welcome all contributions to our club magazine 'Poirieria'.
Please think about what you could provide. Anything related to shells or collecting would be greatly appreciated - Eg. shelling trips/finds, personal observations/tips, scientific research, historic anecdotes, notable washups, etc.
Please send to Jan Munroe at email@example.com, or 42 Black Teal Close, Albany, North Shore 0632. Contact Patricia Langford on (09) 479 6149 if you have any queries.
We have an extensive collection of books, magazines, and scientific publications available, as well as a biological microscope.
Our librarian Gladys Goulstone will be working on an updated list of books in our library. To facilitate this task it would be appreciated if members could return all library books that you currently have.
These are now due as per the invoice sent with last month's newsletter.
Contact our Treasurer Luen Jones on (09) 834 5195 if you have any queries.
Other Club News
. Ann Crosby is trying to obtain glass vials of about 1cm in diameter. Please contact her on (07) 308 6776 if you are able to help.
. Items of interest for the monthly newsletter are always welcome - email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post to 26 Pendlebury Street, Green Bay, Auckland 0604.
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