Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum studying live junonias
The wonder of the elusive junonia. A shelling favorite for generations, prized for its unique pattern and scarcity. A rare find on the beaches because they live far from the shore. Each junonia shell has to roll many miles before ending up on the beaches of Sanibel.
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum’s searches over the years have not produced any videos and only two photos of live junonias, neither available on the web. So the museum’s marine biologist Rebecca Mensch set out on a research cruise determined to bring one home – she brought home three.
Mensch will now learn about the junonias’ life history, including feeding patterns, substrate and lighting preferences, behavior, growth and perhaps even mating. The goal is to better understand how the animals live.
As her research at the museum continues behind the scenes, the museum will share Mensch’s photos and videos via the website at “https://www.shellmuseum.org/junonia”>www.shellmuseum.org/junonia.
The four-day research cruise was funded to museum Board Member Dr. Gregory Hebert by the USF-based Florida Institute of Oceanography and USF’s School of Geosciences. Herbert’s ongoing research cruises are the first comprehensive expeditions to map the molluscan communities of the entire west Florida shelf so that the scientific community and policy makers are better informed about the state’s conservation needs and priorities.
The live junonias will not be on display for public viewing at the museum. They are on loan from Herbert and will be returned to him upon the completion of the museum’s research.
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is at 3075 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel.
It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit www.ShellMuseum.org or call 239-395-2233.