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Shell Emergency!

Shell Crafting programs

Thanks to our friends at the “Island Sun” for this shell-worthy bulletin!

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel needs shells. Not the world-record-sized or rare and perfect specimens on view in the museum, but the kinds of shells anyone can find on our local beaches on any given day. Why this “shell emergency?” The daily Shell Crafting programs are so popular that the museum is running low.

To solve this shell shortage, Executive Director Dorrie Hipschman urges beachcombers to share their finds.

“The shells don’t have to be perfect, and they can be from any Southwest Florida beach,” said Hipschman. “They do need to be clean, and they must not be what the museum calls ‘live collected.’ In other words, we only want shells that are empty when found.”

The types of shells the arts and crafts program instructors prefer are lightning whelks under three inches long, paper figs, tulips, rose petal telins, buttercup lucins, apple murexes, paired cockles, dosinias, coquinas, large scallops, kitten paws, turkey wings and button snails.

Most of us who spend time on local beaches pick up shells simply because they’re there, fascinating and lovely; and with every trip to the beach our collection grows. What once were “finds” may now be gathering dust in glass containers or cardboard boxes or look tired piled high in glass lamps. The museum’s “shell emergency” may be the answer to our continuing desire to collect the beautiful objects the sea delivers right to our feet.

“Donating shells is also the solution for visitors who may be wondering why they ever picked up so many shells and how they’re going to get them all home,” added Hipschman. “We’ll be glad to have them.”

Shell Crafting classes that are proving so popular are offered every afternoon in the museum’s auditorium. Making keepsakes to take home is a wonderful family activity, and the programs are open to all ages. The classes are free with paid museum admission.

Anyone with shells to donate may bring them to the shell museum, located at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road on Sanibel. The staff will even pick up shells on Sanibel and Captiva. To arrange for pick-up or for more information, call 1-239-395-2233.

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