Seashells from Saba Island, Caribbean Netherlands

I am thrilled to see here on iNaturalist that Terence Zahner @zahnerphoto has recently been adding his gorgeous underwater images of marine life around the small Dutch Caribbean island of Saba, during SCUBA diving in March 2011, August 2013, and both March & August 2014

For that area of the Western Atlantic, the Lesser Antilles, I have visited and written papers about the marine mollusk faunas of the following islands: Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and also St. Eustatius (which is part of the Caribbean Netherlands, as Saba is), but I have not actually visited Saba, although I have written two papers about it.

In Britain and the US, these islands are considered part of the Leeward Island chain, although the Dutch consider them to be part of what they call the Windward Islands. Probably it is clearer to say these islands are part of the Eastern Caribbean.

I am especially happy to see that Terence uploaded images of a number of Saba sea slugs. Until 2013, the marine mollusk fauna of Saba had hardly been recorded at all in the scientific literature. And this is why, a few years ago, I started asking a few people who lived on or visited Saba to search for and photograph marine mollusks for me. I compiled as much info as I could, and wrote two papers on the subject, one in 2013 and one in 2017:

2013, Hewitt, Susan J., Marine mollusks from the island of Saba, Leeward Islands, West Indies, The Festivus XLV (8) 67–73

2017, Hewitt, Susan J., Additions to the marine mollusk checklist for the island of Saba, Leeward Islands, West Indies, Vita Malacologica Vol 16, 40 - 43

Terence, as well as photographing the Caribbean Reef Squid, the Queen Conch, the Flamingo Tongue Snail and the Lettuce Sea Slug, all of which have previously been recorded from the island, has photographed quite a few species which would be additions to the published marine mollusk faunal list for Saba. Here are some of them:


*Cyphoma signatum now known to be just a form of C. gibbosum

*Felimeda binza


It would be great to include all these additional species in a new short paper updating the marine mollusk faunal list of Saba -- and I am prepared to write it, if I can work out which scientific publication might be prepared to publish it. A short paper like this would have been perfect for the old journal "The Festivus", but the new, more magazine-like "Festivus" has a lot of problems -- it appears that the peer review process for that publication is seriously broken.

I would prefer to publish this info as a short paper in a peer-reviewed journal, but if I can't find the right outlet for it, I could I suppose publish it in "Spirula" a non-peer-reviewed publication of the Dutch Malacological Society. On problem is that the paper would require three color plates, which are expensive for a publication.

Posted on 02 February, 2019 14:21 by susanhewitt susanhewitt


awesome! thanks for taking interest in these observations!

two more which may be of interest:

Posted by zahnerphoto over 5 years ago

Great! Thanks Terence -- I have added those to the journal post now!

Posted by susanhewitt over 5 years ago

Wow! Great!

Although I also have the "Caribbean Sea Slugs" book, I do not SCUBA dive, and so I myself am not really very good at ID-ing sea slugs, except for the species that I was obliged to learn to ID in order to publish my papers. However, I do know some nudibranch experts that can probably weigh on on these nine observations.

If and when I decide to write up these Saba results, I would include all of those, even if they can't be ID-ed to species level. Of course including your photos would be necessary on all of them, the ones with positive ID, and the ones without. That's about 19 species!

Posted by susanhewitt over 5 years ago

Cool. I've also added them to the Seaslugs of the World project here.

Posted by zahnerphoto over 5 years ago

I’m going to Bonaire this week. Are interested in certain things from there?

Posted by sarka over 5 years ago

I am always keen to see observations of marine mollusks or their shells (for those of them that have shells), from anywhere at all in the Caribbean. Bonaire is better recorded than Saba and St. Eustatius, but still you never know what you will find, and it is all interesting. Are you going to be diving @sarka?

Posted by susanhewitt over 5 years ago

Snorkeling only. I’ll keep an eye out for those mollusks!

Posted by sarka over 5 years ago

I also am keen to see the shells that wash up on the beach, if you do any beach walking.

Posted by susanhewitt over 5 years ago

Ok, great.

Posted by sarka over 5 years ago

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