501 pages, 3600 colour & 170 b/w photos
Bahamian Seashells is a comprehensive study of 1161 species of marine mollusks occurring in the Bahamas. Included are all the species most likely to be encountered in the northern Bahamas, together with many that are uncommon or rarely seen. The second edition contains 3600 new colour photos, and 170 new SEM photos.
"After publishing the first edition in 2001, Colin Redfern has now published the second edition of his book on the marine molluscs of the Abaco’s, informally named BS2. The first edition (referred to as BS1) already received much praise; in particular because of the excellent illustrations, and the fact that it included even the smallest and least known species. The second edition is even better. The number of species recognized has grown with 16.1% and includes all classes except Aplacophora. Colour photos of shells and living animals are no longer restricted to “just” 18 plates, but present on almost all the 418 pages of the descriptive part. The book is hard bound and slightly more compact, which makes it easier to handle and secures that it will remain in good condition longer than its predecessor, nicely countering the expected heavier use. Each species is illustrated with multiple photos, and many species are of living specimens, often showing an amazing variety in colour never shown anywhere before. All but three of the species were collected by the author himself or in his presence. All are from Abaco, thus from the Bahamas and therefore the book is of much use to anyone studying shells from the (sub)tropical northwestern Atlantic and indeed in the whole Caribbean faunal province. The descriptions are clear and concise, with much emphasis on both intraspecific variability and on differential characters. The naming is up-to-date, following the newest insights in higher taxa systematics, and the species identifications appear to be solid. Quite a number are not identified below the genus level; not because the author could not identify his species, but simply because they have not been named yet. The many SEM photos, nearly all made by Emilio Rolán, are truly excellent. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to make SEM photos that show different shells from the same angle, are free of stripes, have the same contrast, and are not the slightest distorted in any way. When necessary, SEM and “normal” photos are shown side-by-side which further enhances identification. Protoconchs, and other important details are often given. Scattered throughout the book are photos of habitats, and of the author and coworkers collecting material, and of the equipment they have used. All showing the joy of investigating nature and stimulating the desire to go into the field and start observing and collecting oneself.
A “good” review is supposed to give a balanced opinion and therefore should also contain some criticism. However, there is very little to complain about. Most illustrations are on the same or opposite page of the species’ description. A 22 pp. appendix on image data lists the locality details of all the shells and animal figured in numerical order. The typography is excellent throughout, the paper quality is spot on (not heavy, not shining through). Perhaps the short introduction (2 pp.) should have had some information on the equipment and techniques used for photographing the smaller and the living specimens. The reference list occupies 21 pages and of course there is an alphabetical index (19 pp.) which includes higher categories, genera, and species names, with the epitheton first. One finds, for instance, Cittarium pica under “pica, Cittarium”, and under its common name, West Indian Top-shell. Some points: the index only refers to the main species description, not to other pages where the species is mentioned and/or figured. Staying with C. pica, the index refers to p. 27 but it is also mentioned and figured on page 1 as a habitat of a Lottia leucopleura. On p. 197 reference is made to a paper by Hunon, Hoarau & Robinson (2009), but that work is not listed in the references. Some species are known from the Abaco’s from one or a few beach-worn, juvenile or broken shells only. In such cases it might have been better if the author had trespassed beyond the Abaco island limits and for identification purposes added a better shell, preferably from another, neighbouring Bahamasian island. On p. 31 figures 86A-B, and 86C seem to be of two different species of Plesiothyreus, one of which then must be Abaco species 1162. The very flat P. hamillei in fig 85C may represent a different species as well and it would be interesting if they do or do not share the same habitat. This brings me to the basis of success of this second edition and the fact that a wealth of new information has been added. As a huge contributing factor is the terrific idea of the author to open his website (bahamianseashells.com, see below) for additional information obtained by himself and/or received from various other malacologists in the dozen years between BS1 and BS2. The author will continue this practice so perhaps in another 12 years we will see BS3 but meanwhile we’ll make great use of the best book on a regional marine malaco-fauna, if not the best book on marine molluscs ever."
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