The George W. Strake Hall of Malacology is freshly renovated with over 1,300 shell and marine life specimens and a focus on ocean conservation.
Malacology is the study of mollusks — invertebrate creatures with soft, unsegmented bodies, many of which house themselves in shells. This fascinating and highly diverse group of animals includes more than 100,000 species, ranging in size from snails so small that we can barely see them to giant squids more than 60 feet long.
Shells are undeniably beautiful with cascading colors, various textures and complex patterns, but as HMNS malacology curator Tina Petway reminds us, “This is not just about pretty shells. This is about human’s reliance on the ocean’s resources.” The hall focuses on the habitats of mollusks and their places within the ocean’s ecosystem. Mollusks are a very important part of the marine environment. In fact, without mollusks, life might cease to exist. They serve as a food source for 80% of the world, and fishes’ predation of them is one of the primary bases of ocean life. The exhibit highlights this with a dive into the food and cultural uses of shells.