Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Nova Shell Museum of Bohol

The Nova Shell Museum, in Panglao Island features an enchanting collection of sea shells, especially those endemic to the waters of Panglao and Bohol.

The museum is owned and operated by Mr. Quirino Hora who has practically devoted half his life in the collecting, study and archiving of these underwater creatures. It was his elder brother’s introduction to this enchanting sea creatures that eventually turned Mr. Hora into a compulsive collector of shells.

And such compulsion was so infectious that subsequently, many of his friends started collecting shells as well.  Most notably, his hobby soon developed into a source of income for his family and provided employment opportunities to the local folks.  

And since the waters of Panglao in particular and Bohol in general were deemed a haven for the biggest variety of shells in the South Pacific, shell collectors enjoyed immense supply of fascinating species for a thriving business.

Shells that resemble snake skin patterns and colors are considered lethal by experts. They have needle-like protrusions on their heads that contain deathly venom which they use to to ward off predators.

The museum features a limited number of corals, which are not for sale.  There are also some fascinating rare shells on display such as the one on the above photo (right).

I went to the Nova Shell Museum mainly to find out if they have any nautilus shells.   They do!

Nautiluses are the sole living cephalopods whose bony body structure is externalized as a shell. The animal can withdraw completely into its shell and close the opening with a leathery hood formed from two specially folded tentacles. The shell is coiled, aragonitic,  nacreous and pressure resistant, imploding at a depth of about 800 metres (2,600 ft).

The nautilus shell is composed of 2 layers: a matte white outer layer, and a striking white iridescent inner layer. The innermost portion of the shell is a pearlescent blue-gray. The osmena pearl, contrarily to its name, is not a pearl, but a jewelry product derived from this part of the shell.

My great interest in the nautilus shell began when I first saw Allan Razzo's photographs with nautilus shell as subject.  It was truly stunning.  And since then, I've always wanted to have this shell to use as photography subject as well.

Mr. Quirino Hora

Included among Mr. Hora's collections is the rarest and minute shell found deep down the waters of Balicasag Island.  It was named after Emperor Hirohito of Japan. It is so tiny that you have to use a microscope to fully appreciate it. 

His highly prized collection, however, are the two shells named after him. The first was discovered in 1987 and named “Bursa Quirihorai”. The other was christened “Primovula Horai” upon its discovery in 1994. Both these shells were found in the waters of Panglao. These honors certainly were the ultimate rewards to his love for these sea creatures.

The museum also has a gift shop that carries souvenir items, handicrafts, necklaces, lamps, hanging shell designs, bracelets and wind chimes.   There are also packages of starter collection sets and some slightly damaged shells that you can buy at a very good price.

Nova Shell Museum 
is located in Panglao Town, Poblacion Proper, 
(adjacent to Petron gas station)

It is open from 8am till 5pm.
Tel: 038 502 8074 -- Cell: 09215103151


* * *

Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!



  1. That place looks amazing. Such gorgeous shells and coral specimens. I love shells and coral. Thank you for sharing!'

  2. A beautiful collection, Eric -- I agree the nautilus shells are amazing. :)