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Katherine "Kate" Stephens (c. 1853-1954)

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San Diego Society of Natural History 1925 Annual Report

Report of the Curator of Mollusks and Marine Invertebrates
By Mrs. Kate Stephens

The past year has been one of steady growth in the department of Mollusks and Marine Invertebrates, although no great or particularly valuable gifts have been received. A new exhibit of sponges has been installed, of which the central feature is a large sponge from Lower California waters donated by Mrs. B. Rashin. An additional case of corals has also been installed, and the case of gorgonias has been rearranged and card-catalogued. Through Mrs. Clara C. Seaver a collection of shells from the estate of the late Mrs. E.M. Chaney of La Jolla was received by the Museum. This accession made possible the installation of a case of very small shells which were arranged on 140 small black disks and provide a rather striking exhibit. There is material on hand for an additional case of crustacea.

After the routine work of identifying specimens for students and bringing the catalogues up-to-date, the chief work of the year has been with fossil shells. A considerable number of local fossils has been collected by Mr. Stephens, many of which have been identified and a number of species new to the collection listed. A great many specimens have also been named for Mr. Charles H. Sternberg. So much study and preliminary cataloguing of fossils has been done that I feel I am now familiar enough with our local fossils to speak with some confidence about them.

I wish to speak very earnestly on the subject of imported mollusks. Four species of imported mollusks have been allowed to enter California. One, Vivipara annulata, has been acclimated several years. Nevertheless, in Japan and China this species is a great pest in the rice fields. If it should get started in the rice fields in Sacramento Valley, it probably would be as great a pest there. Another shell, Planorbis corneus, a European species, has been imported for the purpose of cleaning moss that grows on the glass inside aquariums. We have a native species that will do the work just as well, which can be picked up in almost any pond or stream. Another species, Helix lacta*, a European species, was through the promptness of the Horticultural Commissioner immediately destroyed. I cannot speak too strongly as to the possible danger of these importations. Surely the loss, annoyance and expense to which the Country has been subjected in the introduction of Helix pisana at La Jolla should be sufficient reason for caution.

*Editor's note: This species is now referred to as Otala lactea.