Marine biologists at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum recently wrapped up their annual five-week Shell Studies program for The Sanibel School’s 6th grade students.


The program is designed to introduce students to mollusks, the animals that create shells, and their importance to the ecosystem. One lesson showcased mollusks’ unique adaptations such as ink, slime, camouflage, tentacles, and jet propulsion. During another lesson, marine biologists took a deep dive into several local gastropod and bivalve species, teaching students fun facts about the creatures they might find on Sanibel’s beaches. Students then chose 3 different mollusks to research and presented their findings to the class.


The Shell Studies program culminated with a field trip to the Museum. Students biked over from the Sanibel School and explored the Great Hall of Shells and the marine life in the Beyond Shells Living Gallery.


The students accompanied Museum Marine Biologists at the “Shell Shack” during the 85th annual Shell Festival at the Sanibel Community House on Saturday, March 5th. Students shared their newfound knowledge about local mollusks with festival visitors and answered questions about mollusks on display in the tanks including Horse Conchs, Florida Fighting Conchs, Lettered Olives, Crown Conchs, Banded Tulips, Lightning Whelks, and Ponderous Arks.


The 2022 Shell Studies Program was made possible by a grant from the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club.


For more information on the Museum’s educational platforms, please visit


About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a Natural History Museum, and the only accredited museum in the United States with a primary focus on 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 Beyond Shells living gallery of aquariums and over 50 species of marine life. For more information on the Museum, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.