Book Review

Bivalve Seashells of Florida

By Trish Hartmann
Anadara Press
ISBN 978-0-975909-0-6

We all worry about whether we're identifying a shell correctly when we collect an unfamiliar shell. Are those wrinkles on your forehead due to diligent research or doubt? Mine are from doubt. We can learn about shells by reading or mingling with advanced collectors but whenever I eavesdrop on advanced shell collectors to learn the ropes, I wonder if they sport bumper stickers that state "Real Shell Collectors Speak Latin." You may love shells but hate the intricacies and parlance associated with the hobby. I know that I do.

Bivalves of Florida I have bought and read about every shell identification book available on Florida's abundant and beautiful shells. Yet, I really did not learn the basics of shell identification. They all seemed to fall short of my expectations. Most were merely booklets with off-color pictures that were worthless. They are all collecting dust in my bookcase.

With all those mediocre shell books stowed in my bookcase, I was somewhat apprehensive that Bivalve Seashells of Florida would be just another one of the useless Florida shell books I have already read. Was I wrong!

First I noticed that the photographs are very precise and truly look like the shells I encounter and need to identify. The book mentions that the photographs can be used for identification and that is no exaggeration. I knew that this was a serious book.

With excitement I thumbed through the pages. It was not long before I had the pages dog-eared and notes scribbled here and there. The book just became my primary reference for Florida bivalves. I dropped the book on my side table just long enough to retrieve a baggie full of unidentified shells. It wasn't long before I had them labeled and ready for my shell cabinet. Success!

Although it does not have some rare deep-water seashells, you can bet that almost everything you gather on a field trip or a casual walk on a beach will be listed among the 167 species covered.

What specifically did I like about the book?

Do I recommend the book for beginners - without a doubt it should be your first book to read and use. In fact, buy two - one for the bookcase and one for your car - I did. What about advanced collectors? It is equally good for identifying shells outside of your expertise and as a general reference manual - especially in the field.

For more information and ordering go to

Bill Hoefer

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