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SHELLS AND SHELLFISH OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
To classify is human, and to err has become more difficult with the publication of this sleek, new field guide. Rick Harbo's Shells and Shellfish of the Pacific Northwest is not the only book you'd need to carry to the seashore because it covers a restricted taxonomic range of total marine diversity. Nevertheless, for every shell I've had in hand I found two in the book, and it's easy to imagine matching unfamiliar specimens to Harbo's revealing photographs.

Within the confines of shelled intertidal molluscs (and one brachiopod), coverage is excellent. The book includes over half the local bivalves, perhaps a third of the shelled gastropods, at least 15 percent of the chiton species, and two tusk shells. Many organisms are portrayed in their natural habitat, actually doing something-eating, being eaten, reproducing-in ways difficult to imagine of slow, small-brained, spineless creatures. Although clam shells are primarily shown empty against a black background, even here Harbo provides a sense of where the animals live by including underwater shots of their siphons as well. All pictures are fleshed out by descriptive prose on appearance, habits, and habitat in the second portion of the guide. No species is glaringly omitted, barring, of course, the sea slugs (nudibranchs) which lack collectable shells (and reference is made to a good nudibranch guide at the back). And the scientific names are impeccably up-todate, especially since molluscan taxonomists are notoriously fickle in ascribing names to species. I learned that Ocenebra is now Ocinebrina. Alia gausapata has switched genera to Astysis, and Searlesia has changed to Lirabuccinum.

About five percent of the species have been introduced to this coast, largely for aquaculture or by hitch-hiking along with cultured species. If beachcombers take Harbo's advice and record the date and site of their collections, they might be able to help scientists plot the spread of these invading species.

In addition to realistic photographs, the guide provides line drawings showing basic molluscan morphology that ease the task of identification. For instance, one must know about girdles, valves, hairs, and clefts to distinguish the seven listed species of the chiton genus Mopalia, which reaches the apex of its worldwide diversity in our own backyard. Two helpful glossaries appear at the back of the book. One, covering esoteric morphological terms, reminds readers of the differences between umbo, umbilicus, and operculum. The second, on scientific etymology, includes many of the early European west coast explorers who have had species named in their honour, as well as Latin derivations that may make names such as Haliotis rufescens (red sea-ear), an abalone, easier to remember.

Shells and Shellfish succeeds admirably in its stated task of providing easily-accessible information for beachcombers and recreational shellfish harvesters (with echoes of a previous book by Harbo, The Edible Seashore). To those ends, it warns would-be consumers about various causes of toxicity and assures them that most parasites are harmless to humans, gives collecting tips and places to obtain licences, and provides a key to bivalve siphons (the only key in the book). A subtle conservation message pervades the text, which reminds collectors to replace overturned boulders and to take only the shells that are needed. Reading between the lines, the message should be even stronger: turn-of-the-century photographs show mounds of clam shells dwarfing cannery workers. Where are similar piles today? And why did harvest peak for many species in the 1980s? It gives the reader pause to learn that some clams may live more than 200 years.

My sincere, albeit scientific, hope is that a new generation of field guides will serve not exclusively as mug shots but also as maps to interconnections. Harbo has begun this evolution in places. He notes that many scallop shells are covered with sponges but doesn't speculate on why both might benefit: the sponge gets a place to grow, and predatory starfish may be less likely to have scallops for dinner if it involves extending their stomachs over toxic sponge. Oystercatchers are mentioned as potential predators of oysters, but their most notable ecological role, as limpets' nemeses, is omitted. These birds consume individuals that fail to blend in with their background, and, by removing limpets, may cause a change in intertidal algae as well. Acmaea is shown carrying its food inaccessibly on its shell, but this limpet not only eats coralline algae, it scrapes a spot clear f settlement by kelp. Harbo points out how to recognize the shell scraps discarded by sea otters, but doesn't mention how completely they can decimate shellfish populations (in fact, some human fisheries may have been possible only because otters were driven to local extinction).

Where Harbo has repeated introductory and habitat information on the colour plates and species descriptions, I would have appreciated more detailed stories of how these organisms fit into their environment. So, while the intertidal gourmet may get a full plate from Harbo's book, the inquisitive tidepooling or beachcombing naturalist may return from the seashore feeling tantalized but slightly unfulfilled by the glimpses afforded into the lives of these beautiful sea creatures. Yet, Shells and Shellfish fills an unexplored niche between busy identification pamphlets (Harbo himself has created two of these but only a few of the pictures overlap) and turgid scientific treatises. Although Harbo might have borrowed a few more stories from Kozloff's Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast and more recent ecological literature, his pictures provide a stunning centrepiece for the guide, worth the price of admission alone.
- Jennifer Ruesink, Centre for Biodiversity Research, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia


Canadian Book Review Association
In the coastal environment, shelled mollusks are a diverse, abundant, and fascinating group. Many are long-lived (surviving for up to two centuries) and esthetically pleasing. Rick Harbo, a marine biologist, has prepared a comprehensive and authoritative field guide to more than 200 members of this group.

This book's introduction is followed by two main sections, The first consists of a colored guide, usefully coded to reflect the four taxonomic classes. For each species, there are data of common and scientific names, size, range, and habitat. Identification of bivalves by siphons is similarly facilitated. The second section contains descriptions of each species and information on general biology and ecology, use by humans, methods of determining location, and conservation.

Supplements include lucid photographs, an index, and valuable appendices that provide a checklist, references, a glossary, and crucial information about potential poisoning.

This attractively designed volume is an excellent source book for scientists, educators, and coastal naturalists.
-Patrick Colgan