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The Marine and Brackish Water Mollusca of the State of Mississippi

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The study of marine life of the Gulf of Mexico has progressed slowly as compared to other regions of the United States. Much of this lack of progress is probably due to the absence of universities in the coastal area, and the absence of large populated centers where marine research would be encouraged. The early work was done by travelers and expeditions from places remote to the Gulf. Only in the present century has there been any attempt to establish marine laboratories on this seaside. Most of these laboratories have been located in rather remote, inaccessible places, and have usually suffered from inattention by the parent institution. In recent years, however, the search for oil, industrial growth of coastal cities, and the development of beach resorts have brought new roads and more people to the coast. During the same time the Gulf fishing industry expanded enormously, and, in value, became the largest fishery of the several important fishing regions of the United States. For instance, according to Fisheries Industries of the United States for 1956, the Gulf coast produced more in pounds and value than the Pacific coast, and more in value than the New England states. This new growth has stimulated a demand for more scientific knowledge of the Gulf and its waters.

The scientific study of the Mollusca of the Gulf of Mexico has been carried on in the past in museums far from this region. The bulk of this work has dealt mainly with taxonomy, and even the geographical distribution of most species is poorly known. The writer’s purpose in the present work is to give a brief history of prior work on Mollusca along the Mississippi coast, to identify the species found in the area studied, and to discuss what is known of the distribution, abundance, and habits of many of the species. The work was done at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and was carried on concurrently while the writer was engaged in other duties and activities. Most of the specimens were collected near the Laboratory or around Horn and Ship Islands, but both ends of Mississippi Sound received attention, and it is believed that the collections are representative of the entire area. The writer did not attempt to work in fresh water, and limited the marine collections to the area inside a line drawn one mile south of the barrier islands.

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