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Shell Show a Treat for Nature Lovers

Peter Poortman - 12/03/09

New Zealand's land and waters are home to over 3,000 different species of molluscs (soft bodied animals). Because of this country's long isolation from other land masses, about 80% of these species are found nowhere else in the world.

Most of these animals are very small and unlikely to be noticed, but New Zealand's beaches are littered with their great variety of shells.

Shells are created by molluscs for their protection, and each species has a different type of shell.

Most species produce snail-like shells, but other classes of molluscs produce two piece (bivalve) shells, eight piece (chiton) shells, chambered (nautilus) shells, tube like (tusk) shells, or sometimes species such as slugs, squid, and octopus produce no shell at all.

Many species move about individually on the sea floor, on land, or in lakes and rivers, but others live their whole life fixed to one spot or floating freely in the ocean.

Foreign shells, in particular those from tropical regions, are often very spectacular with bright colours and fanciful shapes.

Display tray of shells in the Display tray showing the variety of shells from Fiji.
Display tray of shells in the "Most Colourful Display" class
Click here to view a larger version
Display tray showing the variety of shells from Fiji.
Click here to view a larger version

Because of their attractiveness, durability, and abundance, collecting shells is a popular pastime. There are many collectors around the world, and some have very large and valuable collections. But even the largest museums do not have a complete collection because there are over half a million known species worldwide, and new species are being identified every week!

There are many shell collectors in New Zealand, with shell clubs based in Auckland, Wellington and Whangarei.

Every two years one of these clubs hosts a national Shell Show, and this year it is Auckland's turn.

As children we are fascinated by them and collect them as pieces of personal treasure. Many of us do not take time or have the opportunity to learn more about them but the Shell Show offers that chance with displays and knowledgeable people to answer questions.

With collectors and sellers coming from around New Zealand and overseas, this will be an opportunity to see top quality shells, and to maybe even start your own collection.

Seashell sellers selling sea shells at the Shell Show
Seashell sellers selling sea shells at the Shell Show
Click here to view a larger version

"New Zealand Shell Show 2009"

Saturday 28/March/2009 10am-5pm
Sunday 29/March/2009 10am-4pm

Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts
(Pakuranga Community & Cultural Centre)
13 Reeves Road

For more information visit

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