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Shell Museum, CROW and Sundial featured on GMA

By Staff | Jun 29, 2016

CROW Education and Community Outreach Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt was featured on Good Morning America with Animal Ambassador Lola, an American kestrel. PHOTO PROVIDED

As the sun began to rise June 20, staff from the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum and the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife gathered at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa for a live taping of Good Morning America, which highlighted National Seashell Day.

“The Sundial Beach Resort & Spa was thrilled to be selected as the location for Monday’s Good Morning America live broadcast with Ginger Zee on National Seashell Day! Hosting Ginger, and the GMA team, and sharing the beauty of Sanibel Island with their viewers was a true honor,” Sundial Beach Resort & Spa General Manager Phillip Starling said.

According to Sundial Beach Resort & Spa Marketing Manager Donna Brown, Zee and the Good Morning America and ABC crew stayed at the resort the week before to record taped segments for the live broadcast.

“Our Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar hosted the pre-production dinner Sunday evening and Sundial’s Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa did Ginger’s hair and make-up for the Monday broadcast,” Brown said.

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Assistant Director Melanie Moraga conducted a live tank talk for the first time since starting at the museum, alongside Executive Director Dorrie Hipschhman, during the filming of Good Morning America.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Executive Director Dorrie Hipschman, Good Morning America Weather Anchor Ginger Zee, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Assistant Director Melanie Moraga and Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Development Associate Paul Gulbrandsen are standing behind the two live tanks that were shown on Good Morning America Monday, June 20 to promote National Seashell Day. PHOTO PROVIDED

Moraga said there were two tanks set up in the background of the filming showcasing one of the museum’s activities – live tank talks – as they were surrounded by a few youngsters engaged in the information they were sharing about lightning whelk, lettered olive, horse conch and fighting conch.

One of the youngsters in the small audience was Timothy, who Moraga said was very interested in her talk about the mollusks.

“I’m very honored that we were asked to be apart of something so wonderful and inspiring,” she said later that afternoon.

Although doing the first live tank talk was exciting, Moraga said to hear Good Morning America Weather Anchor Ginger Zee talk about the Shell Museum was very nice. She said Zee specifically shared with her that she had not only been to Sanibel, but visited the Shell Museum also.

Hipschman said the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau arranged for Good Morning America to broadcast live from the island to promote National Seashell Day and asked them to join the festivities. She said it was great seeing everyone working together to share what they all love – shells.

Good Morning America Weather Anchor Ginger Zee, CROW Education and Community Outreach Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt and Animal Ambassador Lola, an American kestrel. PHOTO PROVIDED

“From the sunrise and full moon . . . it’s been a gorgeous day,” Hipschman said Monday afternoon.

She said the live broadcast showcased that “we live in a wonderful place that has more shells than anywhere else.” The broadcast, Hipschman said, was also used to promote that Sanibel is geared towards family travel.

“We are a child destination,” she said of Sanibel.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum has seen a hike in their attendance not only for the month of June, but from their overall numbers from last year. Hipschman said they are up 26 percent just for the month of June and up 32 percent over last year up to June 20.

“It’s the beginning of a fantastic summer,” she said, adding that there are things for families to do island wide.

CROW Education and Community Outreach Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt holds American kestrel Lola, as Good Morning America Weather Anchor Ginger Zee listens. In the background, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Assistant Director Melanie Moraga and Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Executive Director Dorrie Hipschman share information about lightning whelk, lettered olive, horse conch and fighting conch to some of the youngsters during a live tank talk. PHOTO PROVIDED

In addition, the Shell Museum jumped two slots from seven to five on TripAdvisor for things to do on Sanibel.

Moraga said what they have learned is the majority of the visitors that come to the island during the summer months are families. So, in an effort to accommodate those families taking vacations, the Shell Museum has begun offering a slew of activities for them to enjoy while visiting.

Moraga said with visitors spending about two hours on average in the Shell Museum, they are offering such activities as shell games, shell crafting, Hands on Science and Fossil Day.

“We are doing what people want,” Hipschman said, adding that they are also sharing information about the “wonderful animals found on the beach.”

CROW Education and Community Outreach Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt and Animal Ambassador Lola, an American kestrel, were featured in the live broadcast for about a 10 to 15 second blurb Monday morning.

Good Morning America Weather Anchor Ginger Zee and Sundial Beach Resort & Spa General Manager Phillip Starling. PHOTO PROVIDED

“The experience of doing it was a rush,” Rainbolt said smiling.

She was asked two questions on air – to explain CROW and talk about her friend. Rainbolt said she explained that CROW is one of the nation’s leading wildlife hospitals that takes care of either native, or migratory animals of Florida. She went on to explain that unfortunately not all of the animals are able to get checked out due to not making a full recovery, which is how Lola became an animal ambassador.

Rainbolt said it was nice having the opportunity to work with the Shell Museum because they are both spreading the same message – conservation through education. She said mollusks are a living animal that they are trying to preserve.