Southwest Florida Shells
with Emphasis on Sanibel & Captiva
by José H. Leal

This guide depicts species from the collection of The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. All were collected, at different times and by many collectors, on the islands of Sanibel, Captiva, and neighboring areas. This mollusk guide is being expanded and updated on a regular basis; make sure you bookmark and check the site to follow its progress.

Most of the shells are portrayed as they were found, without heavy surface cleaning. For the bivalves, in most cases the inside of the right valve and the outside of the left valve are illustrated. Viewers should keep in mind that many species of mollusks are highly variable in shape and color.

Click on thumbnail pictures (“Sea Shells Now!”) or on species names in the “List of Photos” to see descriptions and further information. Maximum shell size in millimeters or centimeters is provided. For selected species, supplementary images of details or related to natural history (habitats, juvenile shells, protoconchs, egg capsules, live specimens, etc.) are also linked to the larger shell images.

José H. Leal is in charge of digital photography and web site maintenance. Dr. M.G. Harasewych and Scott Whittaker facilitate the use of scanning electron microscopes at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Ángel Valdés, formerly of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, captured most of the images of live nudibranchs and shelled opisthobranchs. Dr. Valdés worked at the Museum in November 2005 under the auspices of the 2005 R. Tucker Abbott Visiting Curatorship.

The inventory of Southwest Florida species has profited immensely in recent years from the collecting efforts and field observations by Lois Dunnam, Herb Chapin, Joyce Matthys, "Smoky" Payson, Hal Pilcher, Tom Risher, and Amelia Tripp. Dr. Harry G. Lee provided additional information on Florida mollusks, and Dr. James Scatterday helped with boring and nestling bivalves. Linda Shockely and Amy Tripp (both from the Marco Island Shell Club) have contributed photos of live mollusks and egg cases. Jake Mitchell, Naples, Florida, contributed unusual species from the area. Financial support was provided by the Bonita Springs Shell Club, The Broward Shell Club, The Naples Shell Club, The North Alabama Shell Club (in memory of Glenn A. Deuel), and especially The Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club. Any collecting of live specimens in the State waters of Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties were authorized under appropriate State permits. The currently valid permit is Special Activity License SAL-11-1119-E granted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Marine Fisheries Management, issued to José H. Leal on October 13, 2011. The author is exclusively responsible for any factual errors, misidentifications, and shortcomings present in this guide.

We will continue to expand and improve on this free online guide. Your financial contribution will ensure that we will provide and maintain state-of-the-art information at the click of your mouse!

Browse Shells by Photo - or - Browse Shells by List of Species

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