Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 20, Issue 11, pp 2393–2405

Molluscs in the marine curio and souvenir trade in NE Brazil: species composition and implications for their conservation and management


    • Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da Paraíba
  • Nivaldo A. Leo Neto
    • Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da Paraíba
  • Rômulo R. N. Alves
    • Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual da Paraíba
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10531-011-9991-5

Cite this article as:
Dias, T.L.P., Leo Neto, N.A. & Alves, R.R.N. Biodivers Conserv (2011) 20: 2393. doi:10.1007/s10531-011-9991-5


Marine molluscs are sold all over the world as curios and souvenirs. This market encompasses about 5,000 species of molluscs (bivalves and gastropods) worldwide, but the mollusc species involved in this trade are undocumented in all but a very small number of countries. The present study provides a baseline assessment of the mollusc species used in the manufacture of crafts, marine curiosities and souvenirs in northeastern Brazil. A total of 126 species (41 bivalves and 85 gastropods) were found to be sold individually as decorative pieces or incorporated into utilitarian objects. Overall, the families most represented were Veneridae bivalves (9 species) and the gastropods Conidae and Strombidae (8 species each). Large gastropod shells were observed in all of the localities surveyed (mainly as part of table lamps). The main species used were the King helmet Cassis tuberosa, the Hebrew volute Voluta ebraea, and the Goliath conch Eustrombus goliath. The majority of the species involved are harvested from the Atlantic Ocean (68%), but many are imported from Indo-Pacific countries, such as cowries Monetaria moneta. Among the species harvested in the Atlantic Ocean, 11.2% are endemic to Brazil as, for example, the Brazilian chank (Turbinella laevigata). The majority of the species sold in northeastern Brazil tend to inhabit shallow habitats, which facilitates their capture. As there are no official statistics available concerning the marine curio and souvenir trade in Brazil, some species may be endangered. Harvesting regulations should include minimum capture sizes, capture quotas, specific periods for harvesting, and the use of non-destructive techniques.


Brazilian endemic speciesEustrombus goliathMarine gastropodsVoluta ebraeaMarine curiosities

Supplementary material

10531_2011_9991_MOESM1_ESM.doc (228 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 229 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011