neptunea_decemcostata_liveWhile at Gloucester Maritime during the Schooner Festival Maritime Heritage Day I learned that Massachusetts has a state sea shell! We have a state bird, the Black-capped Chickadee, a state flower, the Mayflower (Epigaea repens), friends of mine are working to have the Great Spangled Fritillary named the state butterfly, and how exciting to learn from a member of the Boston Malacological Club that our state flower is the New England Neptune (Neptunea lyrata domcemcostata).

The shell is found from the Grand Banks off Newfoundland to North Carolina. According to the BMC, the shell is rarely found on beaches but is commonly taken in lobster traps. Next time when beach combing I’ll be on the lookout and am wondering if any of our Cape Ann lobstermen find them in their traps. Please write if you do. And if you have any spare shells to share, that would be wonderful🙂

1126d Neptunea lyrata has many common names including wrinkled whelk, ribbed Neptune, inflated whelk, and lyre whelk. The New England Neptune is a marine gastropod mollusk, a type of large sea snail. 


About the Boston Malacological Club, from their website: The Boston Malacological Club was founded on March 14, 1910. They are the second oldest continuously active shell club in America (after the Pacific Conchological Club) and just celebrated their centennial. The Club was the proud host of the 2010 Conchologists of America Convention.

The BMC is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer group, whose charter is to promote the study of land, freshwater, and marine mollusks, related creatures and their environments. The BMC participates in basic research (through local field trips), welcomes guests to its monthly meetings, and sponsors educational programs such as shell shows. In 2005, the Club donated $10,000 to malacological research through the grants program of the Conchologists of America.

BMC members practice responsible shell collecting in accordance with the COA’s Conservation Resolution.

Meetings are held in room 101 of the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA (Directions) on the first Tuesday of each month from October to May. Meetings run from 8pm to 10pm, unless otherwise noted.

Image courtesy Google image search


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