The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium participated in the 2024 Conchologists of America (COA) Convention June 12-15, 2024, in Melbourne, Florida.


COA, the leading international organization dedicated to shell enthusiasts at all levels of interest, has maintained a close connection with the Museum and with the Sanibel and Captiva Island communities, with many local residents serving as members and volunteer leaders in previous conventions.


Dr. José H. Leal, PhD, the Museum’s Science Director and Curator, is a past president of the COA Board of Directors and a longtime member of the organization’s leadership. At this year’s convention Dr. Leal presented the talk “Life After the Flood: Exhibits Renovation at the National Shell Museum & Aquarium,” including an outline of the revamped displays in the Museum’s Living Gallery of Aquariums and a preview of the exhibits planned for the redesigned Great Hall of Shells. Sam Ankerson, the Museum’s Executive Director, is a member of COA’s Board of Directors. He and Marine Biologist and Collections Assistant Chris Whitt were also in attendance.


“COA 2024 created an invaluable opportunity to bring many members of our field together,” said Dr. Leal. “I am passionate about COA because it brings together scientists, shell enthusiasts, educators, and people from all walks of life. Through its Academic Grants program, which serves graduate students working on mollusks, COA supports scientific research in our field.”



The Museum looks forward to participating in next year’s COA convention July 7–12, 2025, in Corpus Christi, Texas.

About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum & Aquarium is a natural history museum and aquarium, 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. For more information, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.