The Mollusc collectionat the Tel Aviv Zoological Museum was established with the foundation of the TelAvivUniversity in 1956. Since most of the staff at that time had been working at the Biological-Pedagogical Institute, established by Joshua Margolin in 1931, most of the molluscs present in the collection of "Bet Margolin" were transferred to the premises of the Zoological Department at Abu Kabir.

From the beginning Prof. Alexander Barash served as the curator of the mollusc collection. He and his colleague Dr. Zippora Danin were especially working on the Mediterranean marine molluscs. However, all the staff at the university brought back from their excursions in the field land- and freshwater molluscs and marine molluscs from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, especially the Elat region.

Most of the mollusc material collected by the Israel South Red Sea Expeditions in Eritrea, in particular the DahlakIslands (1962 and 1965) was also incorporated in the collection. In 1968-1969 Dr. Chanan Lewinsohn carried out dredging operations in the entire Gulf of Aqaba. In the same period Dorit Salczman deposited her mollusc material dredged off Elat also in the collection. Other research was carried out off Bardawil (1967-1979) and on Cyprus and Rhodes(1970).

However also from outside the university material started to arrive in the collection. At a regular base mollusc material collected by researchers at the former Sea Fisheries Research Station: Eliezer Gilat (formerly Gottlieb), Moshe Tom and others, was transferred to the collection. As a matter of fact the latter material formed the basis for the: Annotated list of Mediterranean Molluscs of Israel and Sinai" coauthored by Barash & Danin (1992).When the Sea Fisheries Research Station turned into the Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research Institute, the tradition of transferring the mollusc material collected off the Mediterranean coast of Israel to the collection in Tel Aviv was continued by Bella Galil.

Since a few years also all the mollusc samples intercepted by inspectors of the Plant Protection & Inspection Services of the Ministry of Agriculture are identified and permanently stored in the collection. In the late sixties the collection of Derk A. Visker, a private collector from the Hague in theNetherlands, was received. This collection contained much material from Western Europe, the Western Mediterranean and Indonesia (including Dutch New Guinea), where he had lived for quite some time.

During the past ten years the following private collections or part of them were integrated into the general mollusc collection:

  • Vital (Haim) Treves (1908-1998), Tel Aviv: world wide marine molluscs;

  • Arieh Hadar (1913-1968), Tel Aviv: world wide marine molluscs;

  • Isaac (Jitzchak) Yaron (1934-1985), Beer-Sheva: mainly molluscs from the Red Sea, in particular the Gulf of Aqaba;

  • Kalman Illes Hertz (1921-2006), Givatayim: mainly micromolluscs from the Mediterranean coast ofIsrael;

  • Zvi Orlin (1925), Qiryat Motzkin: very extensive world wide marine collection;

  • Gary Gordon, Warner Robins, Georgia, U.S.A.: large collection of Neritidae

In this way the mollusc collection of the TelAvivUniversity developed in 50 years from a small local collection to an important large world-wide scientific shell collection containing over 60.000 fully identified and computerized samples.

Current scientific activities in the collection

Besides the general maintenance work like sorting, identifying, computing the data and storing the material in the systematically arranged collection, the following scientific research activities are currently being carried out:

  • Taxonomy of the land, freshwater and marine molluscs of Israel and elsewhere in the Levant.

  • Monitoring the arrival and settlement of Lessepsian migrants in the Eastern Mediterranean;

  • Monitoring the exotic species among the land- and freshwater molluscs of Israel;

  • Study of predation on the land- and freshwater molluscs of Israel.

Type material
 
The mollusc collection contains also some type material. A list of all the 65 type samples is provided below.