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Newsletter - March 2008

Upcoming April Meeting - Member's Choice!
This will be held on Tuesday, 8th April at Epsom Community Centre, 202 Gillies Avenue, Epsom.
The April meeting will be an open format with sharing and participation by members. It would be great if everyone that attends could speak for five minutes on something shell-related that has stimulated them, pleased or distressed them - the subject may be an event, a species an observation. Bring along examples of shells that you need help with identifying, shells from a favourite location, or a favourite family, with an interesting story behind, or one that has pride of place in your collection - take your pick - your choice!
Looks to be another great night of sharing, stories and laughter. You are welcome to arrive from 7:15 pm with the meeting commencing at 7:30 pm.
The April meeting will be preceded by a committee meeting at 6:30 pm. Please advise Jan if you are on the committee and unable to attend.

A Note from Heather Smith
Hi everyone! Looking forward to catching up with you in May.
Yes! Another apology from me for the April Meeting but I've got an opportunity to go to Mayor Is. for a week!!
Since Christmas Day I have been on the move and making the most of temporary retirement knowing that on May 5 I begin teaching full time again until the end of the year.
January I had 3 weeks at Coopers Beach. Some shelling including a pearl oyster bivalve on the Southern end of Great Exhibition Bay and a single on Rarawa Beach.
February we were in a "Tag a Long" group of 12, 4 wheel drive vehicles driving from Blenheim to Wanaka on sheep stations. It was an extremely well organised trip and we crossed 22 sheep stations on farm tracks. Heaps of steep narrow tracks, views from mountain tops etc. Next I spent two weeks in Takaka with my daughter and then a night with Kris Wood in Wellington before I drove home to Auckland.
March saw Luen and family, Mike and Val Hart and myself from our club and Jenny, Kris and Pat from Wellington Club heading across the Tasman to the 7th Australian National Show in Brisbane. We all had a great time and the Aussies really are very good to us. They set the standard high and we are going to have to run a top show to keep up with their standard!! I'm sure we will manage it in March 2009. Oh! I did win quite a few prizes!
Happy shelling and start arranging some shells on a tray for our show next year!! I'm happy to help show anyone how to make a quick easy tray and give a few tips on display. We do plan on having some categories in our show for all levels of collectors! It's always fun to share your shells.
Happy shelling. See you all in May.
Heather Smith

Shell Auction Cancelled
We are sorry to announce the Auction planned for June has been cancelled. Along with other factors, we were only able to confirm 120 lots. We will discuss at the next committee meeting whether to reschedule the auction for later on this year, or combined with our shell show in 2009.
Our sincere apologies to those who have already made arrangements for this date.

Congratulations to Heather Smith who won up large at the recent Shell Show in Brisbane. Out of 22 trays Heather won 15 "1sts", five "2nds" and one "3rd" - the one tray that did not get a prize won the Visitors Votes Awards! Well done!

Committee Meeting
Advance notice there will be a Shell Show committee meeting preceding the May monthly meeting. If you would like to join this committee speak with Heather, Doug or Peter.

Report from the March Meeting
It was great to see baby Luna (and mum and dad), and members Paul Leary, Holly (and chauffeur/dad!), and Bruce Hayward.
Kevin Barker had the group of 15 members that attended last month’s meeting enthralled with his enthusiasm and information obtained after only four weeks in to his Royal Fellowship study on the Paryphanta distribution in the Waitakere’s. The powerpoint presentation was great and the supper cake provided by Olga’s mother divine. If anyone can assist Kevin further, please contact him direct as under.

A Note from Kevin Barker
On Tuesday 11th of March I spoke with members of the Shell club about what I am undertaking in the Waitakere Ranges with respect to investigating Kauri snails. I am a 2008 NZ Science, Mathematics and Technology teacher fellow and I am based at UNITEC's school of natural sciences.

One of my goals is to establish the distribution and range of the Kauri Snail in the Waitakere's. I started this quest by reading studies completed in the 1990's by scientists including the late Richard Montifiore who completed a study on the Kauri Snail Paryphanta busbyi busbyi near Huia. Following this I advertised in the Western Leader newspaper for sightings of shells or live snails. This article also suggested Dr Baden Powell may have had a part in the snail introductions after this was suggested by a scientist in personal communication.

I received around forty responses to this article which included accounts of live snails and dead shells in around thirty locations. I have been busy interviewing respondents, checking sites and taking GPS readings of Snail locations. The Kauri Snail is not known to have occurred naturally in the Waitakere's, the population I am studying was introduced. The accepted southern limit is around the Moir Hill or Woodcocks area near Warkworth. Who introduced them? The article drew some useful information about the introduction of the Kauri Snail from a former member of the Shell club. One account was from a now elderly Dr Elwyn S Richardson who as a young man recalls collecting snails from the Hokianga and Mangonui regions of Northland and then releasing them in as many as eight locations in the 1940's. Dr Richardson recalled supplying the Huia Dam manager the late Mr K Nugget's Thompson with Snails. Mr Thompson seems to have placed snails on high points and ridges in the Southern Waitakere's. Thompson and Richardson seem to have together "salted" the ranges in as many as 12 or more locations. I can confirm from initial field work the populations I have found do indeed seem to correlate well with the accounts of the introduction. The snails have also spread down streams and formed populations lower down valleys. Dr Powell seems to have not been the introducer of the Kauri Snail to the ranges. Indeed according to Dr Richardson Dr Powell was upset at the idea of Paryphanta for reasons which included the presence of Rhytida Snails in the Waitakere's. I have however found several Rhytida dunniae snails while completing field work. They seem to inhabit a similar habitat to the Paryphanta snails.

It is possible other introductions may have occurred. It is worth noting that nowadays it requires a lot of paperwork and special permission to even handle the Snails. Other useful accounts of the snail include an account of a thrush predating a Kauri Snail and a report from a group of canyoner's of good numbers of snails in steep remote country near streams. The snails also favour the weeds selaginella and trandescantia which occur in damp locations.

It will take several months to get around the many locations and get a clear idea of the range of the Snails in the Waitakere's. I am thankful for the many useful tidbits of information gathered from shell club members which have been helpful in my quest.
If you have sightings or more information about the kauri snail in the Waitakere's then please get in touch. My email at UNITEC is and UNITEC's phone number is 8154321.

The Amazing Finds of Margaret Morley
Peter’s unexpected finds contribution is a hard act to follow. While I can’t claim to have found such a special person as Heather, I can relate some amazing finds of my own.
One day in a gale of rain I lead a group to Farm Cove in the Tamaki Estuary. Hardly a likely place to find what is probably the rarest shell in my collection. A friend picked up a battered Cominella glandiformis for identification. She was baffled by my screams of delight - it was sinistral!
In 1986 the club visited Parengarenga. Kon Hepers, an avid cone specialist, was so keen to find Conus kermadecensis that he offered his son a $100 reward. While members waded across the low tide flats I snorkelled. Afterwards Judith Snook provided biscuits, thus refuelled I returned to the flats as the tide came in. A red siphon just showed above the sand, incredibly a cone! That evening I quietly put it on show in a bucket of sea water. When Kon saw it he said, "I would have drunk the whole bucket of water to have found that!"
One holiday in December 1983, our 3 children enthusiastically charged around looking for paper nautilus at Te Werahi. Next day they refused to come to Twilight Beach, "We’re not wasting time looking again!" They were miffed when I found a large Argonauta nodosa still with the eggs inside!
On Waiheke a Maori adze lay exposed in a recent farm cutting, and at Oneroa, a gem specimen - a valuable pottery ginger beer bottle was revealed at a spring low tide.
Not all finds are good! At Cuvier Island I launched myself from rock steps for a snorkel. Good visibility and varied marine life as the tide went down entertained me for over an hour. When I came to climb out I found to my horror that my step was the last and was now above my head! I wearily swam back to a boulder beach and scrambled through thick, prickly scrub back to my gear.


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