Between 1981 and 1997, the marine mollusc collection of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum was expanded significantly in the number and diversity of specimens. This was mostly because of the hard work by Dick Kilburn and Dai Herbert, who led the Natal Museum Dredging Programme during this period. This programme identified about 250 marine mollusc species, which were previously unknown to science! This sizeable contribution resulted in the KwaZulu-Natal Museum mollusc collection ranking as top five largest collections in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the more scientifically significant collections in the world.
At the beginning of this year, we dusted off these old dredges to rekindle the sampling for offshore molluscs along the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Samples will be collected on the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity marine platform, Phakisa. We will revisit the historical dredging stations to investigate changes in the mollusc community over time. Fresh material will be used in DNA analyses to improve our understanding of different mollusc groups and to contribute to the global DNA barcoding reference library. Non-molluscs collected during these trips will either be accessioned into the appropriate KZN museum collections or donated to relevant researchers and the Iziko Museum in Cape Town.
Sampling for molluscs during the Natal Museum Dredging Programme, 1981 – 1997.
First test run of the historical dredges on the research vessel, Phakisa.