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Bunche Beach walks are back

By Staff | May 25, 2017

Bunche Beach walks have returned for the summer at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. The first beach walk of the season will kick off Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m. and will be led by Dr. Jose Leal, science director and curator of the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. Stefanie Wolf, a marine biologist at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum will also be leading the beach walks. Wolf will cover the morning walks and Dr. Leal will lead the evening walks.

Wolf said that the Bunche Beach walk allows attendees to see the beach in a different way.

“There’s so much life back here,” Wolf said.

Common sightings at Bunche Beach include crown conchs, sunray venus clams, whelks, mud snails and horseshoe crabs. The walks are typically an hour long. One of the benefits of the walks is the intimacy – only 15 people are allowed per walk.

Both Wolf and Leal are highly trained in their field of studies. Leal was born in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where he grew up two blocks away from the ocean. Leal holds a bachelor and masters degree from the Federal University of Rio De Janeiro. He also has a doctorate in marine biology and fisheries from the University of Miami. Leal completed his postdoctoral studies at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and he holds honorary faculty positions at the University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University. Leal was also a visiting professor at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Currently, Leal is the editor of The Nautilus and is president of Conchologists of America.

Wolf is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin. She received her bachelor of science degree in ecology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a master of science degree in biology from Western Illinois University. Wolf spent a semester studying marine biology on the Great Barrier Reef at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. In 2013, she completed field work on dolphins in the Northeastern Adriatic Sea in Croatia. In addition to her studies, Wolf has taught classes in the Florida Keys. At the museum, she is in charge of guided tours, tank talks, their Adopt-a-Class and Shell Ambassador program, travel eco-tours and beach walks.

The Bunche Beach walks are $12 for non-member adults and $7 for non-member children (ages 5-17). The cost is $10 for member adults and $5 for member children (ages 5-17). Beach walks require advanced registration. Parking at Bunche Beach is $2 per hour. Beach walk tickets are non-refundable unless the museum cancels due to weather conditions. All attendees who register for a beach walk will receive a coupon for half-off museum admission.

With the beach walks, Wolf hopes that people take away a better understanding of the ocean and the creatures that inhabit it.

“I hope they view the shoreline in a totally different way” Wolf said. “There’s so much life

right here at the coast, right under our feet. I love when people say that they’ll never view the beach in the same way.”

Upcoming Bunche Beach walk dates:

* Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m. (Dr. Jos H. Leal)

* Wednesday, June 7, at 7 p.m. (Dr. Jos H. Leal)

* Sunday, June 11, at 7 a.m. (Stefanie Wolf, M.S.)

* Thursday, June 22, at 7 a.m. (Stefanie Wolf, M.S.)

* Thursday, July 6, at 7 p.m. (Dr. Jos H. Leal)

* Sunday, July 9, at 7 a.m. (Stefanie Wolf, M.S.)

* Sunday, July 23, at 7 a.m. (Stefanie Wolf, M.S.)

* Thursday, August 10, at 7 a.m. (Stefanie Wolf, M.S.)

* Wednesday, August 23, at 7 a.m. (Stefanie Wolf, M.S.)

For more information on the beach walks go to shellmuseum.org/programs-events/beach-walks.