Ballona Institute
Los Angeles, California
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Earl Segal, Professor of Biology:
Invertebrate Zoologist & Marine Biologist & Ecologist & Malacologist
California State University, Northridge (CSUN)

Robert "Roy" van de Hoek
Biogeographer, Environmental Historian, and Conservation Biologist
Ballona Institute

322 Culver Boulevard, Suite 317
Los Angeles (Playa del Rey) California 90293

December 29, 2009

Earl Segal was a professor of biology from the 1960s to 1980s at California State University, Northridge. I took seven classes in marine science with him in the late 1970s. His special research interest was the gastropod molluscs (marine snails and land slugs). I had many field trips with him to various seashores in Los Angeles County and Baja California. One example of a noteworthy field trip to the ocean with Earl Segal was an exploration of the "fouling community" on wharf pilings, sea walls, and docks at Marina del Rey. This man-made harbor, built in 1960 on a former salt marsh and estuarine ecosystem, actually functions now biologically as a bay and estuary, with an abundance of mollusca, particularly oysters, mussels, and Earl Segal's infamous limpets. The bird life is astounding at Marina del Rey, including abundant pelicans, herons, egrets, grebes, cormorants, and all manner of shorebirds on the jetties and breakwater. The marine mammal diversity is fascinating, which includes many seals and sea lions, dolphins, and an occasional Gray Whale, such as in 2009, which entered the estuary and bay at Marina del Rey in Los Angeles County. Whenever, I visit Marina Del Rey today, which is daily, I am always nostalgic and reminded of my first field trip here, led by Earl Segal, approximately 32 years ago in 1977. See below for additional field trip destinations during my university years at CSUN.

Earl Segal was born December 29, 1923 (Segal, 1955). Earl Segal grew up in urbanized New York City and he was a rebellious youth and teen that got into mischief (Time Magazine, May 18, 1959). Time Magazine states: "He worked for $6.00 per week in the garment district" of New York. In addition, Earl Segal is quoted in "Time Magazine" (May 18, 1959) which illustrates nicely this early part of his life. In actuality, Earl Segal did a little bit of an "autobiography" for all of us in that "Time Magazine" article which is interesting for us to consider 50 years later in 2009.

"I was born on the upper East Side of New York, in the shadow of the el. I was thrown out of school several times, and in junior high school I was voted the least likely to succeed. Mostly I was thrown out of school because I liked to cut class and turn over rocks in Van Cortlandt Park. The craziest things crawled out."

In 1941, Earl Segal graduates from high school and World War II begins. Consequently, Earl Segal becomes an army soldier from 1942 to 1945 (Segal, 1955), where it appears that he was introduced to the South Pacific Ocean and discovered the abundance of marine life in tropical seas. Again, Earl Segal is quoted by Time Magazine (May 18, 1959) which relates interestingly to his war years:

"I was a corporal twice and a seargeant once, but I went in and came out a private. I don't get along with people - only slugs."

After World War II, in 1946 at only 23 years old, Earl Segal hitchiked to Los Angeles, California. Utilizing the G.I. Bill, Earl Segal enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. Earl Segal obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1949 from USC.

In 1950, Earl Segal (1955) entered graduate school in the doctoral program at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Earl Segal was a teaching assistant in the Department of Zoology from 1950 to 1954. In 1953, Earl Segal earned a Master of Arts Degree from UCLA (Segal, 1955). Earl Segal married a biology student, Ellen Segal, while at UCLA. In his dissertation, Earl Segal (1955: iii) states:

"To my wife, Ellen, my deepest appreciation for her critical reading of the manuscript and her continued support."

Yet again, Earl Segal is quoted by Time Magazine regarding his university student years and marriage:

"My girl friend was studying embryology. We met over a pig embryo, and so we got married."

From 1950 to 1955, Earl Segal was mentored by the famous physiological ecologist, Theodore Bullock, under whose guidance, he obtained a Ph.D. Earl Segal (1955: iii) said the following kind words about his mentor in the "Acknowledgements" page of his dissertation:

"The author wishes to express his appreciation and gratitude to Professor Theodore H. Bullock for his guidance and patience in the course of this undertaking."

A year later, Earl Segal (1956) again acknowledged Dr. Bullock in an article in Biological Bulletin about intertidal limpets related to his Ph.D dissertation as follows:

"I wish to thank Dr. T. H. Bullock for his encouragement and guidance throughout."

In 1955, on January 20, at 1:00 p.m., Earl Segal took the Final Examination for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at UCLA (Segal, 1955). The "Announcement" is included in his dissertation at the UCLA Library. There is a "Vita" of his life from birth, up until 1955, which lists his birth date in New York, his years in World War II (1942-1945), as well as his undergraduate years of education at USC, and his graduate education at UCLA. After UCLA, Earl Segal moved to Emporia, Kansas, where he became an assistant professor at Kansas State Teachers College. Now, he was far away from the ocean, but he continued to study molluscs. For example, Earl studied a terrestial slug in Kansas, which brought him some fame in Time Magazine (May 18, 1959). The article discusses that Earl Segal explored around homes and neighborhoods in Emporia, Kansas. There is mention by Time Magazine that the "Faculty wives do not appreciate Dr. Segal's slimy pets." Interestingly, Earl Segal received a grant for $21,000.00 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) because the temperature experiments "may provide clues for humans adapting to tough environments, such as high altitudes or outer space." Earl Segal is again quoted by "Time Magazine as follows:

"They want to know what a big lug like me is doing with slugs. I try to explain, but most of them aren't listening. They're just being polite."

From Kansas, Earl moved to Houston, Texas. There he was also an assistant professor in the biology department at Rice University. Now, at least, Earl was again close to the seashore and ocean again, in this case, the Gulf of Mexico. It appears that he did research on acclimation of an estuarine isopod crustacean on the gulf coast (Segal and Burbanck, 1963).

In addition, while in Texas, Earl co-authored another article with a colleague on his research of a limpet that he had studied during his time at UCLA. This limpet occurs in tidepools in Baja California and Los Angeles County, California (Segal and Dehnel, 1962). That article focused on studies at Big Rock, Malibu, in Los Angeles County, California. Another study site was at La Jolla, near Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Earl had permission to use the lab of the distinguihed scientist, Carl Hubbs. And the third study site for Earl Segal was in Baja California. It was near Ensenada and Todos Santos Bay at Punta Banda.

In 1963, at the age of 40, and a combined 7 years at Kansas and Texas, Earl Segal returned to Los Angeles, California. He was fortunate to obtain a professorship at a first rate teaching college in Los Angeles, which at that time was known as San Fernando Valley State College. Later, in the 1970s, the college changed its name to California State University at Northridge (CSUN).

At CSUN, Earl made important strides toward establishment for the foundation of a marine biology program and developed his classroom and laboratory to have salt water aquaria and collections of living marine invertebrates and fish. Earl also assembled an exquisite collection of seashells and corals in his biology classroom and laboratory, many of them from the tropical Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. He participated with other professors and faculty to establish a southern California "consortium" for marine studies. The California state universities of southern California acquired an old fishing boat, which was equipped to do marine studies. It was docked in Long Beach adjacent to the ferry to Catalina Island. I was fortunate to take many field trips to sea in order to learn about marine biology and oceanography.

Two of the field study locations mentioned above, namely that of Big Rock (Malibu in Los Angeles County, California) and Punta Banda (Ensenada-Todos Santos Bay, Baja California), would become favorite field trip locations to take his students at CSUN. Any student, including myself, that was enrolled in either Marine Biology or Invertebrate Zoology would invariably go to these two places on field trips with Earl Segal. There were many other places that Earl Segal brought his students, including Palos Verdes, Newport Bay, Santa Catalina Island (Isthmus), and Marina del Rey. Earl always drove the university van, which could take up to 8 students with him. The field trips were both fun and educational, as well as scientific and solid natural history exploration.

In 1977, on a nice warm day in Los Angeles, in September, at 1:00 p.m., I walked up the stairs to the third floor of the science building at CSUN. There I entered the classroom and laboratory of Earl Segal, sitting down at a lab stool, at the back of the class, where I listened to Earl Segal introduce his course to us, i.e. Invertebrate Zoology. Earl Segal was 53 years old at that time, and about 15 years into his teaching career at CSUN. I did very well in the class, and I obtained the highest score on a mid-term exam that focused on Mollusca. I recall that Earl Segal took notice of me at that time and he gave me a moment in the sun as a youth of 21 years. His lectures were great, including outlines of lectures and illustrations of marine life that he drew on the blackboard with chalk. The field trips were educational and fun. After the class was completed in December (1977), I was very motivated to become a marine biologist, so I traveled to Big Sur and Monterey Coast to study the seashore life with a student in the class.

In January (1978) I enrolled in Earl Segal's Marine Biology course. My project for this class, was the collection, identification, and report of a sample of marine life from the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). I visited Richard Brusca at USC and the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History to assist in identification of the marine life.

I also enrolled in Earl Segal's spring-break course (1978) that was entitled: "Natural History of the Northern Gulf of California." There I met Richard Brusca, who co-taught the class with Earl Segal. The wealth of knowledge of Richard Brusca was addictive, and that experience encouraged me to continue my studies in marine science. I brought a collection marine life, a result of "bycatch" that was made from a Mexican Fishing Trawler dredging for shrimp in the Sea of Cortez. There were several amazing marine creatures found. One of the most remarkable animals for me was the "Basket Star" which was quite beautiful. I also purchased Rick Brusca's new "first edition" manual of the Gulf marine life (1973) from him and I asked him to autograph his book for me. It's been a treasure to have this book all these 30+ years later.

In the next semester, I enrolled in Marine Ecology, and in the following semester, I enrolled in Marine Ichthyology. All in all, I had 12 courses in marine science at CSUN. And taking all these courses began with support and encouragement from Earl Segal.

What I recall about Earl Segal was that he was a very tall man with a beard, who appeared stern, but was a gentle peaceful man that appreciated nature. The "Time Magazine" article stated that he was 6 foot, 3 inches. This height seems right because I am 6 foot, 2 inches, and I recall looking up to him, just a bit. All of this reflection brings to my mind, the web site title of "Nature's Peace" as I recall him now. Earl Segal really believed in sharing his knowledge and love of marine life in the rocky seashore tidepools and mudflats of estuaries with me and all of his many students.

He also taught a course on the natural history of Hawaii, which unfortunately I never had the privilige to enroll in due to timing and cost, but that I wish I had been able to do as a student. I can still recall that Earl Segal encouraged me to go to Hawaii in order to experience tropical island natural history and ecology. I did go to Hawaii later with a friend, and then with my parents, and finally with Marcia Hanscom, and each time, I anxiously awaited the first opportunity to go to the seashore, to visit the tidepools in the lava rocks, sandy beaches, small lagoonal estuaries, and to snorkel in the coral reefs, where I experienced close-encounters with sea turtles. At least, I understood what Earl Segal meant by experiencing tropical marine life at the seashore, even if I never had the natural history class with him at Hawaii.

One of our textbooks in Marine Biology was "Between Pacific Tides" by Ed Ricketts. It was the fourth edition (1968) that we used in the Marine Biology course by Earl Segal, which had recently been edited by Joel Hedgpeth. Interestingly, Earl Segal was cited by Joel Hedgpeth in both the third (1962 revision) and the fourth edition (1968) of Between Pacific Tides. Joel Hedgpeth was apparently impressed with the work that Earl Segal had done on a tidepool limpet. The annotation by Joel Hedgpeth (1968:407) states the field study site at Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County. It relates to the UCLA doctoral research that Earl Segal did at Palos Verdes, which was published in a peer-reviewed science journal. And this, in part is what caught the eye of Joel Hedgpeth, so he annotated the bibliography of Between Pacific Tides as follows:

"Both papers based on studies at Palos Verdes"

I believe that Joel Hedgepth and Earl Segal met each other at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. I state this because Earl Segal had a study site in La Jolla at Scripps, and Carl Hubbs allowed Earl Segal to use his laboratory. And Joel Hedgpeth was also at Scripps during this same time period, at work on his treatise about marine ecology.

I still have a copy of "Between Pacific Tides" which was used as the textbook by Earl Segal for Marine Biology. I cherish it with nostalgia, along with Rick Brusca's manual of marine life of the gulf of California. In addition, I recall that we used another book to assist us with identification of marine life of Los Angeles County, namely a manual guidebook by Richard K. Allen, which we called the "manual" but whose actual title was "Common Intertidal Invertebrates of Southern California" and newly published in 1977 at the time of my classes in invertebrate zoology and marine biology.

Interestingly, the fifth edition of "Between Pacific Tides" cites Earl Segal, not just once as in the 1968 fourth edition, but twice with a second citation in the annotated bibliography (see also this bibliography below). The new editor, David Phillips (1985:553), of the fifth edition, similar to Joel Hedgpeth, therefore embraced and acknowledged Earl Segal for the significance of his studies on the ecology of an intertidal snail (File Limpet) now known as Lottia limatula. after originally being known as Acmaea limatula, but also being known briefly as Collisella limatula. The articles of Earl Segal are now around 50 years old, becoming real classics in marine biology. Will the sixth edition of "Between Pacific Tides" with a new editor, continue to recognize Earl Segal and list a third or fourth article by him?

One wonders what Earl Segal knew or learned from Joel Hedgpeth regarding the marine biology mystique of California, which surrounds John Steinbeck, Cannery Row, Ed Ricketts (doc). The fame of Ed Ricketts' after his death in 1948, occurred just as Earl Segal was venturing into his study of marine biology at UCLA. So did Earl Segal hear about "Between Pacific Tides" from his professor, Theodore Bullock? And one wonders whether Earl Segal knew about George & Nettie MacGinitie, the couple that studied marine biology of California at the Kerckhoff Marine Lab in Corona Del Mar (Newport Bay)? So much history, so few facts to rely upon in order to even understand the recent history of marine biology, marine ecology, and marine invertebrate zoology in California.

I recall that we used the "Allen Manual" for identification of marine invertebrates in Earl Segal's classes. So, even at CSUN and through Earl Segal, there was at least an indirect connection to Richard Allen at California State University at Los Angeles. Did Earl Segal and Richard Allen know each other? Both of them taught invertebrate zoology during the same time period of the late 1960s to 1970s. Both of them served in World War II and had injuries in their foot and leg respectively. Both utilized the G.I. Bill to attend american universities in order to obtain a Ph.D. And the two respective university were both in Los Angeles, only about 15 miles apart and a 30 minute drive between the two universities. Both were hired at their respective universities at about the same time of the mid-1960s.

There is more to write and share about Earl Segal, including completion of preliminary selected bibliography of his eight known published writings of marine intertidal invertebrates (see below) and a terrestial slug from the midwest which brought him media fame in Time Magazine (more on that in a revised edition of this biography web page), as well as more trivia about the "life and times" of Earl Segal, his teaching style and career at CSUN and his relationship to Richard Allen, Ross Pohlo, Larry Allen, Theodore Bullock, Richard Brusca, Roy Houston, and other marine naturalists of Los Angeles.

Interestingly, Earl Segal has had a very beautiful marine snail, a cowrie, named for him in 1977 (Cate, 1977: 160-161). The common name for this snail is "Segal's Spindle Cowrie" but the scientific name is Cymbovula segaliana Cate 1977. Crawford N. Cate was a Museum Associate in Invertebrate Zoology, for the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (LACMN) in Exposition Park, California. Crawford Cate specialized in "marine snail taxonomy" and his home was in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Crawford Cate decided to deposit the holotype specimen of this new cowrie at LACMN (LACMN No. 1770). The type locality is Penang Island, West Malaysia, just 5.5 degrees north of the Equator. Crawford (1977: 161) made the following statement regarding the naming of the cowrie:

"The name of this new species honors Dr. Earl Segal, Northridge, California, who collected several of these shells while on a field trip to these islands in West Malaysia."

And in 2008, approximately 30 years after its original description in 1977 as a new species, a scientist in Singapore, Hoong Wei Wong, wrote an article about a new record of discovery for "Segal's Spindle Cowrie" which was found at East Coast Park in Singapore. The article was accompanied by many beautiful photographs of this cowrie which were taken by the Singapore teacher from Tampines Junior College. The article and photographs were published in Nature in Singapore in volume 1: 65-67 (H. W. Wong, 2008).

An interesting way to bring this biography essay to a close, for now at least, is through two successful graduate students for whom Earl Segal served as their advisor and mentor. Their names are Carla Jeane Bowman and Kevan L. Main. Carla studied a terrestial land snail, while Kevan studied a marine snail.

Carla Bowman enrolled at San Fernando Valley State College (SFVSC) in the late 1960s. Bowman (1971) studied Limax flavus with regard to a special aspect of physiological ecology. It is known as "temperature acclimation" which was also a specialization of Earl Segal, which he studied in graduate school at UCLA in the 1950s in a marine intertidal snail. In addition, Earl Segal studied Limax flavus at Kansas, where he was a professor for a few years, after completing his PhD at UCLA. In a very real sense, Carla Bowman was studying the two specialities of Earl Segal, namely ecology and Limax flavus. Earl Segal, therefore, would have served as an excellent mentor and advisor due to the subject that Carla Bowman investigated.

Nearly a decade later, Kevan Main enrolled at CSUN in graduate school in the 1970s, also taking several classes by Earl Segal, and obtaining a Bachelor Science degree in 1977. Kevan Main became a graduate student of Earl Segal and completed her thesis and Master Degree in Marine Biology under his guidance in 1980. Main (1980) studied various aspects of the life history of two closely related marine snails, which allowed Earl Segal, whose specialty was snails, to act as a genuine advisor and mentor to Kevan Main.

After completion of her graduate degree at CSUN, Kevan Main then moved east across the United States to Florida, where she entered a doctoral program at the University of Florida at Tallahassee. In 1983, Kevan earned a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology.

Currently, Dr. Kevan Main is involved in conservation and sustainability studies as a senior scientist and director of the distinguished Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Earl Segal would be proud and honored to know of her accomplisments, if he were here with us today. And I hope similarly that he would consider this biography of him as respectable. Perhaps he would also be proud that another one of his students became successful in marine invertebrate zoology, marine biology, and conservation biology, via his association with the Ballona Institute in Los Angeles, California. There must be other former students of Earl Segal that feel the same way and I hope to hear from some of them in the future?

Segal, E., P. Rao, and T. N. James. 1953. Rate of action as a function of intertidal height within a population of some littoral molluscs. Nature 172: 1108-1109.

Segal, E. 1955. Microgeographic Variation as Thermal Acclimation in an Intertidal Mollusc. UCLA. Ph.D Dissertation. 68 pages.

Segal, E. 1956. Adaptive differences in water-holding capacity of an intertidal gastropod. Ecology 37: 174-178.

Segal, E. 1956. Microgeographic variation as thermal acclimation in an intertidal mollusc. Biological Bulletin 111 (1): 129-152. [Cited by Phillips(1985: 553) and Hedgpeth (1968: 507): "... based on studies at Palos Verdes]

Segal, E. 1961. Acclimation in molluscs. American Zoologist 1 (2): 235-244.

Segal, E., and P. A. Dehnel. 1962. Osmotic Behavior in an intertidal limpet, Acmaea limatula. Biological Bulletin 122 (3): 417-439. [cited by David Phillips (1985:553)].

Segal, E., and W. D. Burbanck. 1963. Effects of salinity and temperature on osmoregulation in two latitudinally separate populations of an estuarine isopod, Cyathia polita (Stimpson). Physiological Ecology 36 (3): 250-263.

Segal, E. 1963. The effect of temperature and photoperiod on mucus secretion in a slug, Limax flavus. Page 85 in Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Zoology. 310p.

Segal, E. 1963. A Temperature dependent abnormality in the slug Limax flavus L. I. Appearance and Incidence. Journal of Experimental Zoology 153 (2): 159-170.

Bowman, C. J. 1971. Temperature Acclimation in Embryonic Limax flavus L. (Mollusca: Gastropoda). M.S. Thesis. San Fernando Valley State College. 68 pp.

Cate, C. N. 1977. Five New Species of Ovulidae. Veliger 19(2): 159-162.

Main, K. L. 1980. The External Morphology, Anatomy, and Larval Development of Simnia aequalis and Simnia barbarensis: (Gastropoda: Prosobra[n]chia). M.S. Thesis, California State University, Northridge. 66 pp.

Phillips, D., J. Hedgpeth, E. F. Ricketts, and J. Calvin. 1985. Between Pacific Tides. Stanford University Press.

Hedgpeth, J., E. F. Ricketts, and J.Calvin. 1968. Between Pacific Tides. Stanford University Press.

Wong, H. W. 2008. A New Record of Cymbovula segaliana Cate, 1973 (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Ovulidae) in Singapore. Nature in Singapore 1: 65-67.