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Newsletter - May 2014

April Meeting
The focus family was Tonnidae.
Doug Snook brought in two trays of Tonnas from around the world, including a pair of enormous Tonna zonata (formerly Tonna olearium).
Peter Poortman's Tonna drawer contained seven different species that had all come from NZ waters, including a very rare Eudolium crosseanum from off The Aldermen Islands. There were also five specimens of small unidentified Tonnas, some of which were previously thought to be Tonna cumingii (see the Nov/2013 newsletter for more info).

Paul Leary brought in a stunning tray of shells he collected from a wash-up at Waipu Cove after cyclone Lusi. This included large gem specimens of Semicassis labiata, Semicassis pyrum, Tonna tankervillii, and Panopea smithae. The wash-up at Waipu Cove was huge - several kilometers of the beach was covered in seaweed containing numerous shells.
Peter reported that there was also a small wash-up at Te Arai Point which contained mostly hermit crab Struthiolaria papulosa and Pelicaria vermis. Encouraged by the wash-up at Waipu Cove he immediately drove to the Far North, but there was absolutely nothing at Rarawa Beach, Paxton Point, Great Exhibition Bay, and Spirits Bay.
Unfortunately he neglected to check Tokerau Beach, later learning that there had been a big wash-up there too.

Peter advised that our Shell Club website has now been relocated to www.aucklandshellclub.net.nz. Besides the more meaningful domain name, it means visitors will no longer be presented with the large tacky advertisements that were a feature of the old Tripod website.
Members are advised to change their bookmarks, favourites, links, etc to point to the new location.

Peter then announced that he has now put his shell collection online - at www.nzshells.net.nz.
He had been working full time on this project since early February and it now contains 670 images of shells in his collection.
The "Species" page contains a list of all 1048 species (and forms) in his collection, including some as yet unidentified specimens. Clicking on the species name brings up a composite specimen image (2 or 3 views) a little larger than life size. Each shell image includes the data for that specimen as well as its size.
The "Images" page contains thumbnail images of every species and form in his collection that has so far been photographed. The thumbnails are grouped by Class and Family, and listed in more or less morphological order. Species within each family are listed in order of rarity. IE. the more common species or forms are listed first.
Some basic metrics such as geographical range, habitat, and maximum size are included with each species thumbnail on the Images page.
Clicking on the thumbnail image brings up the relevant specimen images and data.

Peter said that providing online access to his collection serves many purposes, and hopes that it will be of benefit somehow to many people.
So far only the largest species (those over 10mm) have been photographed, but Peter will continue to add photos of the small species as time permits.
The photography aspect has been a huge learning curve for him as it is much more complicated than simple "point and shoot" type photography. The progress into macro photography will be even more difficult and will probably require the purchase of a special lens and other equipment.

The most interesting aspect of his project arose after the website had been created. This was the decision of how to order the species listed on it.
The search facility (Ctrl-F) on each page makes locating a genus or species by name easy, so the Species page is simply ordered alphabetically. But the Images page needed to be ordered visually. This would make it easier for someone (EG. a child) to identify a shell that they did not know the name of.
Gastropods were primarily ordered by the presence and size of the siphonal canal or notch. Other physical characteristics such as the presence or absence of an umbilicus were also considered.
Peter made some assumptions about evolutionary progress. IE...
. shell structure would normally evolve from simple to complex
. species would evolve from shallow water to deep water habitats
. species would evolve from sea to freshwater, and from sea to land
Note that these assumptions were entirely personal, and Peter admitted some ignorance of accepted evolutionary theory.
After much contemplation the mollusc families were placed in a more or less morphological order - bearing in mind that a tree structure is very difficult to represent in linear form.

This exercise produced some interesting observations. EG. why does Astraea heliotropium look so different (it has a huge umbilicus) to the other members of the Turbinidae family? Also, Cassids, if stretched to about twice their length, would look quite similar to Volutes. This is why Peter has put those families adjacent to each other in his reorganisation.
Powell stated that Schizoglossa were "a Paryphantid genus in which the shell has become so reduced that it is little more than a shield for the viscera". Based on Peter's "simple to complex" assumption, could it be the other way around? This allows land snails to fit into a more logical morphological order on his website.

Peter also admitted scant knowledge of malacology, as well as the science behind the currently accepted taxonomic relationships of Mollusca.

Next Meeting Tuesday 13th May
Epsom Community Centre, 202 Gillies Avenue, Epsom at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm). Supper provided.

We are fortunate to have as our guest speaker, Dr Richard Willan, Senior Curator of Molluscs at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin.
He will be talking to us about marine molluscan pests ... "Top tips resulting from 35 years experience with marine species introduced by shipping into New Zealand (Aotearoa) and Australia (Oz)".

New Zealand Shell Show 2015
A date and venue has been announced for the next national Shell Show.
It will be held on 16-18/January/2015 at the Petone Club in Udy Street, Petone, Lower Hutt.
A show schedule will be produced in due course.
For more information contact Pat Lakeman (pat.lakeman@xtra.co.nz) on (04) 479 2919.

Subscriptions for 2014
For those who have not yet paid their subs (reminder notice enclosed), could you please ensure that they are paid immediately.
This will unfortunately be the last newsletter for those that are not paid up members by 20/May.

Poirieria Magazine
We welcome contributions to our club magazine "Poirieria".
Anything related to shells or collecting would be greatly appreciated - Eg. shelling trips/finds, personal observations/tips, scientific research, historic anecdotes, a notable washup, etc.
Please email articles to Peter Poortman at petermwp@gmail.com, or post to 26 Pendlebury Street, Green Bay, Auckland 0604.

Club Library
We have an extensive collection of books, magazines, and scientific publications available, as well as a biological microscope.

Other News
. A big thank you to those who have opted for the PDF version of the newsletter. For most this will start this month, but if you have a subscription receipt to come it will start next month.

. Items of interest for the monthly newsletter are always welcome - email to petermwp@gmail.com, or post to Peter Poortman, 26 Pendlebury Street, Green Bay, Auckland 0604.

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