Belgian Society for Conchology
Section 'Coast'

FRONTPAGE

Introduction

The phylum of Mollusca contains all the animals with a soft (Lat. = mollis) body. They belong to the invertebrates, that means they are missing an internal skeleton that supports or protects their organs. Instead of this their soft parts are surrounded with a large body pleat, the so called mantle or pallium, which in most species forms an external skeleton or shell.

On the basis of body characteristics and shell structure molluscs are divided in seven classes: the Aplacophora, the Polyplacophora or chitons, the Monoplacophora, the Gastropoda or snails, the Cephalopoda (cephalopods or squids/cuttle fishes), the Bivalvia or bivalves and the Scaphopoda (tooth shells).






Aplacophora
Polyplacophora
Monoplacophora

Aplacophora

Polyplacophora

Monoplacophora
gastropoda
Bivalvia
Cephalopoda
Gastropoda
Bivalvia
Cephalopoda

Scaphopoda
Scaphopoda


Belgian Society for Conchology

Molluscs are found in seas and oceans worldwide, but also in brackish and freshwater or on land.  Shells are washing ashore on beaches, they are dived or trawled by fishermen and commercialized over the whole world (exchanged or sold). By their colours and varying forms they have fascinated people during all ages.
Since the development of natural sciences in the 18th century many amateurs and professional scientists have built up important collections. The so called conchologists study the structure of shells and they share their knowledge by information in books and papers in periodicals, by participating in symposia or in meetings of societies. Malacologists in addition are studying the soft parts of animals itself.

In Belgium there are two societies: the French speaking ‘Société Belge de Malacologie’ (established in Brussels) and the Dutch speaking ‘Belgische Vereniging voor Conchyliologie’. The latter has been set up in Antwerp on 8 October 1961 under the name ‘Gloria Maris’ (refering to the once rare seashell, the ‘Conus gloriamaris’ (= glory of the sea). This society got his definitive name as ‘Belgische Vereniging voor Conchyliologie V.Z.W.’ or briefly ‘B.V.C.’ in 1976.
A number of members is only fascinated by the beautiful forms and colours of the shells, some other collectors are interested by stamps illustrating shells and a last group is the ‘hard core’ of amateurs who study the molluscs (shells and/or animals) in a scientific way. These specialized researchers are able to identify most of the different species and they publish papers in Belgian and foreign periodicals, treating on the distribution of molluscs in certain areas and the discovery of species new for science or the revision of a complete genus.
Some passionate shell collectors even write books on a complete family or class of molluscs. We refer to the website for a thorough acquaintance with the B.V.C. (http://www.bvc-gloriamaris.be/).

B.V.C.-Coast

In West-Flanders a local section of the B.V.C., is meeting every third Sunday of the month, from 9.00 a.m until 12 a.m. in 'The Square House', Pr. Stefanieplein 43 mailbox 8, Oostende. No meetings are held in July and a summer assembly is held on the last Sunday of August. Membership is only € 8.

The meeting place is easily accessible and there is a free parking (see map) in the koninginnelaan. The room with bar (coffee, beer and cola) offers accommodation for about fifteen persons.  Darkening is perfect and allows speakers to demonstrate the results of their travels or studies. All possible equipment can be put at their disposal such as: slide projector, overhead projector, beamer, video recorder with boxes, laptop, screen, laser pen, flip-over board and magnetic board with stand. Binocular microscopes can be obtained on special request. Enough tables and chairs are present to facilitate activities as there are: study, exhibition and exchange or sale of books and shells.

Aims pursued by the section ‘Coast’:

  1. Initiation of members into collecting skills: fieldwork, cleaning and preparation of shells, identification of different species, storing and classifying of shells;
  2. Organisation of field trips and discussion of the results;
  3. Book reviews: members have the opportunity to consult and order ancient or recent works;
  4. Presentation of new issues of the most important shell periodicals.
  5. Exchanging of collecting hints;
  6. Organisation of exhibitions for shells and books;
  7. Study of certain families, genera or species of molluscs or shells from a certain shelling province;
  8. Attention for the mollusca within a global scope of the protection of nature, especially the study of worldwide biodiversity;
  9. Lectures, illustrated by slides, digital photographs or movies;
  10. Support of the periodical ‘Neptunea’ by critical discussing or writing papers;
  11. Becoming acquainted with photographing shells.

Generally we try to offer practical meetings, which are only successful if each shell collector realizes at the end of the meeting he learned something new. This can only be achieved if each member of the society is willing to share his knowledge with other shell collectors. We prefer improvisation. That means subjects of meetings are only occasionally announced in advance, revolving in a real constant number of present members. Conferences are attended because of the enjoyable atmosphere among friends who improve our conchological and malacological level.

Brief history of B.V.C.-section 'Coast'

  1. 7 October 1977: first meeting in the projection room of Daverloopark In Assebroek (Bruges) under guidance of Fernand Boone (Bruges) and Frank Nolf (Ostend), the real founders of this  subsidiary of  B.V.C., in those days the so called ‘B.V.C. West-Vlaanderen’ or ‘B.V.C.-Brugge’;
  2. October 1978: move to the ‘Ontmoetingscentrum voor Bejaarden’ at Assebroek;
  3. From 1986 on meetings are held in the rooms of the ‘Brugse Trim- en Roeiclub’;
  4. 1994: transfer of the activities to Vosseslag, De Haan. An executive committee is established with Robert Coelus (De Haan) as chairman, Fernand Boone as treasurer and Frank Nolf as secretary. ‘B.V.C.-Section Coast’ becomes the new name of the society. On 29 January 1997 an internal regulation is provided. A subscription fee (previously € 5, now € 8) and a grant from B.V.C. (Antwerp) supports the rent for the meeting room. In early years personal gifts and the profits of the monthly tombola were sufficient to cover all expenses.

In the first decade meetings were attended by about fifteen members, a fair number taking into account the fact that the society started with only two persons! The transfer of activities to the coast resulted in a severe increase of that number, with a regular audience of twenty to thirty shell collectors at the monthly meetings. However, in the past five years there was a decline of that number to a core of about ten enthusiastic persons present, i.e. a third of the total affiliated members.

Activities

Besides the primary aims many other interesting initiatives have been taken in the past thirty years: numerous lectures, field trips and daily excursions (Oostduinkerke, De Panne, private collections, ‘Stedelijk Aquarium Oostende’, ‘Heemkundige kring Turkeyenhof’ in Bredene, Schoolmuseum in Ghent, Audresselles, St. Omer, …), but also visits to London or group travels to Brittany, and the organisation of mini-shellshows or extramural activities as there are:

The most recent initiative is the shell magazine ‘Neptunea’, started in March 2002. The first paper about the distribution and the revision of European Solecurtidae appeared so interesting for advanced readers that the publication of travel stories in early years was leaved. Initially our magazine was issued in Dutch but as the content and the way of publishing by using many large colour photographs charmed in first instance a foreign reading public we decided in 2005 to use English as current international language. At present we are concentrating on East Atlantic marine species and new species are regularly described. There is a lot of interest in that matter from advanced shell collectors and scientists in Holland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Co-founder Fernand Boone (30 June 1940- 3 June 2006)

Fernand Boone

Fernand Boone passed away after a protracted illness in June 2006. He was one of the founders of the Section Coast of the Belgian Association for Conchology in the province of West Flanders (Belgium).  After a short career as an engineer in commercial shipping he worked for the company Bombardier in Bruges till his retirement. He was a man of wide reading with a broad interest for art and culture, and he was passionated for anything related to the sea. He built up a magnificent collection of marine shells and stamps with shells as the main subject. Collecting those was primarily a mean to establish profound contact with other people. A good friend has left us, but his enthusiasm, his principles and his sense of humour will be remembered forever.