Bugs of the Sea

A collection of specimens from the Strake Hall of Malacology

Nodipecten magnificusHouston Museum of Natural Science

This is a very uncommon color of the Nodipecten magnificus, a very rare species. It is endemic to the Galapagos islands and is no longer collected. This orange specimen was collected by a man who was a dive guide in the Galapagos Islands while it was still possible to legally collect marine species there. In the Galapagos Islands, they have been used as a food source for many years since they are a member of the Scallop family. They can grow in size to more than 220 millimeters, (approximately 9 to 10 inches). They are members of the Mollusk family Pectenidae.

Haliotis irisHouston Museum of Natural Science

Here are two color forms of an Abalone shell (Haliotis iris). The largest is the normal, wild-grown Haliotis iris. The two smaller, and much more vividly colored, shells are “farm raised” specimens of the same species. The two smaller ones were fed powdered milk in their artificial habitat. Since they are grazers of algae, the powdered milk is eaten along with their normal diet and chemically added this coloration to the shells.

Strombus taurusHouston Museum of Natural Science

This group of shells represents an uncommon species of the Family Strombidae. They are called Strombus taurus. They are found in the Marshall Island Group in the Pacific Ocean. These particular specimens were collected by two physicians that worked for the United States Atomic Energy Commission in the years following the testing of Atomic Bombs on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. In the years following the completion of the testing, these two doctors were sent to follow the health of the native peoples of that area when they were allowed to return to their homes. They were also shell collectors and they did some diving and snorkeling of the areas they were working in during their off hours. On one of these collecting trips they found the first reported specimens in many years of this species of Strombus. At first they were not sure of the species since they had not been known from that area for several years. When they returned to the U.S. and home to Houston, Texas, they showed them to a friend who worked at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Mrs. Constance Boone, who identified them as the species Strombus taurus. The specimens in the collection are dated as 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1966, 1970 and 1972 (from top center clockwise). The reason the dates are so important is that it shows the conditions of the specimens through their remarkable recovery process from severe trauma to their habitats.

Strombus taurusHouston Museum of Natural Science

The specimen shown at the top was the first they found in 1954, and the shell below was collected in 2011. Their recovery as a species is remarkable, and the newly collected specimens appear to be even more beautiful and hardy than before. No scientific study of the species has yet been undertaken.

Haliotis quekettiHouston Museum of Natural Science

This is a grouping of a very small species of Haliotidae, Haliotis queketti (Smith, 1910). This variable and uncommon little species of Abalone comes from a limited area off the west coast of South Africa and possibly areas of western Somalia. This shows evidence of the variety of pattern, color, and textural sculpturing found in this little jewel of a species very seldom seen except in large and scientific collections.

Haliotis quekettiHouston Museum of Natural Science

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