Club on the snail trail to track down young ‘rediscoverer’

Headshot of Sarah Ison
Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times

The WA Museum and Busselton Naturalists Club are searching for the young girl responsible for the remarkable rediscovery of one of the State’s threatened land snails, in the hope of recording her as the first person to find the species in the past 20 years.

As part of a study to better understand the snail group known as Bothriembryon,WA Museum researchers have been painstakingly tracking down each of its 36 sub-species over the past five years, one of which — Bothriembryon irvineanus — was last found in Ambergate Reserve in 1998.

Ahead of the museum’s excursion back to the reserve in September, 2016, the Busselton Naturalists Club led a wildflower tour with a family of four or five, who they asked to keep an eye out for the rare snail.

“We didn’t truly expect to find the snail,” club president Bernie Masters said.

“It was just something we had in the back of our minds.

“But the eldest daughter of the family, who was 12 at the time, found the specimen.”

Since then, researchers have been able to conduct critical molecular and DNA testing to better understand the ecology and distribution of the rare specimen, of which there had been just three live ever captured for study.

Museum mollusc technical officer Corey Whisson said the discovery was significant as it was one of the “few remaining species of snail we didn’t have”.

“Having people in areas and there at the right time, like this girl, is really important and a great display of citizen science,” he said.

The girl would now be around 14 years old and visited the region with her family in 2016.

Anyone with information surrounding this discovery is asked to contact the Busselton Naturalists Club on 9727 2474.

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