Beautiful cones like these help explain How Cones Got Their Names. (Below right) Shell Show visitors will get a shot at calculating the number of cones in the jar. (Bottom) The main room at the Community House takes shape for the Scientific Division of the Shell Show. SC photos by David Staver
Beautiful cones like these help explain How Cones Got Their Names. (Below right) Shell Show visitors will get a shot at calculating the number of cones in the jar. (Bottom) The main room at the Community House takes shape for the Scientific Division of the Shell Show. SC photos by David Staver

It's Shell Festival Eve on Sanibel Island. It all starts on Thursday, March 3, and a sneak peek at the Community House on Tuesday showed that the island's oldest and most iconic event is primed for another amazing show.

The first-time visitor to the Shell Festival doesn't really need to keep it straight, but for the record, the Shell Festival has two parts – the Shell Fair outside the Community House and the Shell Show inside. Preparations for both were going on Tuesday and will continue today, but things are pretty far along indoors at the Shell Show.

The Santiva Chronicle will have more on the Shell Show exhibits later today, but we can't help but talk about what we managed to get an early look at on Tuesday afternoon in the main room at the Community House where the Scientific Division exhibits reside.

We went to the Shell Hospital. Don't worry. We are fine. We just visited Mollusk General Hospital. Mol-Gen is a 40-foot long exhibit full of injured and recovering shells. It was created by Sanibel's own Anne Joffe, a shell crafter of world renown. She pointed her considerable crafting skills into creating Mollusk General. A picture of one of the wards is above, and there is much more – remember, it's 40 feet long. It is an absolute must-see.

There are other must-sees. Did you ever hear of a sea butterfly? Me either. But there is such a thing and even if you have heard of a sea butterfly you haven't seen one because they are microscopic mollusks that spend their lives at sea and are a key part of the food chain. Sea butterflies are making their Shell Show debut this year.

How do shells get their names? This is another amazing exhibit. All of the exhibits in the Scientific Division are interpretive but that is just part of it. These interpretations use some of the most beautiful shells to be found on earth.

Also in the Community House is the Artistic Hall. These exhibits leave the science part of it aside and treat shells simply for their beauty and their ability to lend themselves to fantastic creations. That's just indoors. The Shell Fair is outside and is equally amazing.

The Shell Festival is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The City of Sanibel urges anyone who can to ride a bicycle or walk to the Shell Festival, but there is ample parking for those who must drive. This is the 79th renewal of the Shell Festival, but its the first with a Shell Hospital. Great weather is ahead and we hope to see you there.

Island Weather

The weather is coming up lucky 7s for the Shell Festival. Today, Thursday's and Friday's high will be 77 under a mixture of clouds and sun. An afternoon shower may appear Friday before Saturday dawns sunny again with a high of 76. To average things out to 77, the Sunday high will be 78.

Beaches

The Gulf of Mexico is essentially flat today. Low tide came at 1:32 a.m. today and high tide is at 5:34 p.m.

Today's sunset on Captiva comes at 6:31 p.m.