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Shell museum’s Mollusks on the Move van visits Golisano Children’s Hospital

By Staff | Jun 20, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum’s Mollusks on the Move van visited the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida on May 7, June 12 and June 19.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum’s Mollusks on the Move van has been making waves recently throughout Southwest Florida.

The Mollusks on the Move program was developed last year with the mission of connecting local children with the natural world through their love of seashells. To date, it has reached more than 3,000 students in Lee, Collier, Hendry, and Sarasota counties at schools, festivals, camps and county parks.

Thanks to partners like the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Mollusks on the Move will bring its touch tanks to young hospital patients each month. On May 7, June 12 and June 19, the program provided several children with the unique opportunity to experience the animals one-on-one.

Mollusks on the Move focuses on mollusk ecology, behavior and reproduction to foster lifelong learning and respect for the sciences. The program includes an introduction to Southwest Florida shells and touch tank demonstrations with live mollusks, and provides students with a keepsake shell and their own laminated Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Shell Guide.

“Mollusks are a great way to distract patients from whatever ails them,” museum educator Leigh Gay said. “The kids are immediately mesmerized by these slimy, odd, and shelled creatures. I am looking forward to each of our upcoming visits at Golisano.”

After meeting the mollusks, many patients described their favorites:

“The shark eye is so slimy!” one child said.

“My favorite part was when the fighting conch flipped over with its foot,” another said. “It was really fast.”

One patient was so enthusiastic about mollusks that she vowed to find them at the beach and show her parents as soon as she gets out of the hospital.

“I didn’t even know they were out there,” she said.

Mollusks on the Move benefits children and parents alike. Many of the families never get a chance to explore the beach, so meeting the live mollusks who create the shells can be a life-changing experience.

For more information, contact Leigh Gay at lgay@shellmuseum.org or 239-395-2233.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is at 3075 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel.