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Welsh pond snails to make a bigger splash thanks to National Lottery support

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales has received a confirmed National Lottery grant of £64,500 for the Brought to the Surface natural heritage project. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to involve people around Wales in helping produce a new, accessible identification guide for the UK’s freshwater snails.

Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the project will deal with all species of freshwater snails found in the UK – over 40 in all. Pond and river snails are an unsung part of the natural heritage. They can be hard to notice or to tell apart, but each species can tell us something different about the environment. Some are common and lurk in nearly every garden pond whilst others are very rare and now protected, like the Glutinous Snail (Myxas glutinosa), once found throughout southern Britain, but now left only in Snowdonia. Snails are also useful food for many animals, including popular angling fish.

Over two years, the project will involve curators, volunteers, and the public in using the world-class snail collections of National Museum Cardiff to create and illustrate a brand-new guide. At a series of training events around Wales, people will help trial the best ways of distinguishing the species. Back at the Museum, the snails’ shells and anatomy will be photographed and their DNA studied, to check their identity and compare them to European and other species. Parts of Amgueddfa Cymru’s world-famous shell collection will be curated and digitised, and a small display created to showcase the project.

The resulting species guide, to be published by the Field Studies Council, will be the first comprehensive guide to British freshwater snails for nearly 50 years. It is expected to be used throughout the UK and for years to come.

Ben Rowson, a Senior Curator for Amgueddfa Cymru, said “We want to see our snails make “a bigger splash”, and get the new guide right so that it’s useful for everyone. We’re delighted that we’ve received this support thanks to National Lottery players, who we look forward to helping us identify every last snail we find.”

The other partners in the project are the Conchological Society of Britain & Ireland, the Malacological Society of London and the Freshwater Habitats Trust.

Richard Bellamy, Head of HLF Wales said:

“Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, HLF grants have helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support the Brought to the Surface project that will stimulate people’s interest in the natural world and so help them conserve it for future generations.”

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales including National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum, the National Roman Legion Museum, Big Pit National Coal Museum, the National Wool Museum, the National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum.