As the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium works toward reopening in early 2024, it will start the new year by expanding upon its educational mission by offering a new lineup of lectures, classes, and field education.


The Museum’s Season Lecture Series features talks by prominent authors and scientists.  The series includes:

  • January 31: Loving Icons to Death: The Story of Florida’s Horse Conch by Gregory Hebert, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geosciences, University of South Florida
  • February 19: Remarkably Bright Creatures: Animals, Humans, and Stories by New York Times bestselling author Shelby Van Pelt
  • March 20: Florida’s Corals and the Mission to Save Them by Rachel Morgan, Senior Coral Biologist, The Florida Aquariums
  • April 11: Precious Luster: On Pearls and Value by Paul Callomon, Collections Manager, Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University


All lectures begin at 5:30pm and will be held at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Full descriptions and registration information is available at


New classes span a range of scientific and creative subjects related to shells, mollusks, and their ecosystems. They are designed to be accessible to beginning enthusiasts and experts alike. The first session on January 30 prepares students to become a Museum Shell Ambassador volunteer and educate and engage with beachgoers and fellow shellers.Classes include:

  • January 30: Shell Ambassador Certification, taught by Museum staff
  • February 15: Bivalves Identification, taught by Dr. José H. Leal, the Museum’s Science Director and Curator
  • February 27: Creating Sailor’s Valentines, taught by Karen Irvine
  • March 6: Shell Photography for All, taught by Dr. Leal
  • April 4: A Day in the Life of an Aquarist, taught by Carly Hulse, Senior Aquarist


Classes will be held at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium. Class times, full descriptions, and registration information is available at


An expanded program of field education includes shell, mollusk, and biodiversity explorations on beaches, coastal ecosystems, and natural areas on the islands and throughout Lee County. Some programs feature a community science aspect, whereby participants make observations in the field and record data that contributes to scientific research. Field education programs include:

  • Sunrise Shell and Mollusk Strolls. Held at Lighthouse Beach, Sanibel. January 26, February 8, March 10.
  • Live Mollusk Counts. Held at various beach locations, Sanibel. March 23, May 6, July 2.
  • Snail Search and Biodioveristy Walks. Held at various natural areas throughout Lee County. January 19, February 19, March 21, April 16.

Program start times vary. Times, full descriptions, and registration information is available at



About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium is a natural history museum, and the only museum in the United States devoted primarily to shells and mollusks. Its mission is to use exceptional collections, aquariums, programs, experiences, and science to be the nation’s leading museum in the conservation, preservation, interpretation, and celebration of shells, the mollusks that create them, and their ecosystems. Permanent exhibitions on view include the Great Hall of Shells which displays highlights of the Museum’s collection of some 550,000 shells, as well as the Living Gallery of Aquariums and over 60 species of marine life. In 2023 the Museum is under reconstruction following the impacts or Hurricane Ian. For more information, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.