BMSM hosts ‘Finding & Identifying Sanibel Shells’
The next “Friday Lunch Hour at the Museum” program will be held on Jan. 14, from noon to 1 p.m. at The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. Harold “Smoky” Payson will serve as the January presenter with a program titled, “Finding & Identifying Sanibel Shells – From the Second Floor to the Beaches and Back.”
How and where to look for some of the island’s most common species will be discussed along with tips on how to identify specimens both in the field and once they are cleaned and prepared for placement in a collection.
Participants will learn how winds, tides, the phase of the moon, and the geographic orientation of the island impact shelling. Observation of behavior patterns also will be discussed.
In addition, participants will learn about the two major types of shells — bivalves and gastropods — and how seasons of the year impact the species found. Questions about why Sanibel is referred to as the shelling capital of North America and how many species can be found on this paradise island will be addressed.
Payson found his first shell while on an outing with his parents in Key West, discovering a bleeding tooth attached to a stone. His mom and dad were nature enthusiasts and casual shell collectors. Early in his shelling adventures, Harold became a more efficient sheller by looking for what he calls, “the pots of gold.”
Reading articles given to him by Dr. José Leal , the Museum’s director/curator, and volunteering as a curatorial assistant, participating in the accessioning process, spurred Harold’s interested in helping to increase the number of live specimens photographed for the Museum’s online Southwest Florida Shell Guide and searching for species not well represented in the collection. One of the things he enjoys most about being a volunteer is the opportunity to get others excited about collecting shells.
Payson received his undergraduate and master’s degree in international economics from Harvard University and obtained a Ph.D. at Tufts University. He first visited Sanibel in 1963.
The program is free with Museum admission. Those in attendance are invited to bring their own brown bag lunch. For additional program information, please call Diane Thomas at 395-2233 or visit www.shellmuseum.org.