Controversy over molluscs in California:

California, like most other states in the US, has a state flag, a state flower, and a state bird. Now, it seems set to go one better. For the past couple of weeks, legislators in Sacramento have been arguing over which lucky creature should become the state mollusc.

Initially, the abalone was proposed, but opponents said that most people in California would never get to see an abalone, unless they could eat in expensive restaurants—and even then it would be dead. So, following an initiative by a girl scout group, the Dynamite Bluebird troop of Redwood City, the humble banana slug has been nominated instead.

The banana slug is a fat, slimy, yellow coloured creature, about 5 inches long. The girls became interested in the mollusc during a course on forest ecology.

Despite the banana slug's excellent credentials—it eats poison oak, which is something of a hazard in California—not every one is keen to support the nomination. "The banana slug is a sexual pervert", Trice Harvey, a Republican from Bakersfield told the State Assembly. "The abalone is straight, the banana slug is yucky."

Despite Harvey's objections, the assembly passed the proposal, by a vote of 42 to 30. It now goes to the senate for further discussion.

Feedback. New Scientist, March 31, 1988, p. 64.