Shell Collection

Holman Shell Collection

Holman Shell Collection


This shell photo archive was made possible by the donation of the Holman Seashell Collection to the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems at the Florida Institute of Technology. Donated by Diane Holman in loving memory of Robert and Martha Holman and their fondness of the ocean, it is hoped that this photo archive and digital database will benefit scientists, educators, and collectors. While the original Holman collection forms the core of shells displayed here, specimens are regularly being added to the collection with a particular focus on Florida regional species.


The Holman Seashell Collection started on May 5, 1976 with a casual beach walk at low tide in Satellite Beach, Florida and a small shell rolling onto the sand in the surf break. Curiosity led to the discovery that this small shell should have been on a beach along the Gulf of Mexico. Thus began an almost thirty year adventure into the world of seashells that ended up involving Robert and Diane Holman as the collectors and Martha Holman as the recorder and database manager.

A vast majority of the shells were self-collected during many walks on the beaches all along the coasts of North America, and islands of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Navy friends of Diane, who had seen the family collection, and were excited to contribute shells from other oceans as well, collected several of the shells. All specimens were welcomed since much of the enjoyment of the collection was the research through the many books obtained to verify the identification of the shells.

Even when traveling away from the oceans of the world, Martha and Bob looked for the echo of ancient seas and shells found in fossils. One of their favorite sites was just off of an interstate in Texas, where a stop for a "walk around break" revealed a ditch whose banks were imbedded with hundreds of large ammonites and other fossil shells. Bob and Martha always said that you just have to look around and you will be surprised at how many places there are to find shells.

When Bob and Martha's ashes were scattered at sunrise, on the outgoing tide on their favorite beach in Hawaii, their first shell went with them.


Kevin B. Johnson, Assistant Professor of Oceanography



Rebecca Williams, digital photographer

Browse the Seashell Collection

Common Name Class Family Scientific Name Common Type Location Size Range Collector Date Reference Front Image Back Image
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