Award-Winning Black Water Photographer To Lead Shell Museum Lecture

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Linda Ianniello heading out for a blackwater dive

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum’s 2022 season lecture series continues at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 15 at the museum with award-winning photographer Linda Ianniello.

In her talk, “Deep Water Adventure: The Unexpected and Beautiful World of Blackwater Diving and Photography,” Ianniello will describe her experiences diving miles off the coast of Southeast Florida, and the wide diversity of sea life she has encountered and photographed.

Every night the largest animal migration on earth takes place in the oceans of the world. The zooplankton migrates vertically up from the deep to feed in the shallower water near the surface. With the plankton comes a huge variety of marine life large and small to feed on the plankton and each other. This creates an opportunity for scuba divers and underwater photographers looking for something new and unique.

A “blackwater dive” means diving at night in the deep ocean and searching for these subjects, which may include fish and gastropod larvae that will eventually settle on the bottom, pelagics (animals whose typical habitat is neither close to the shore nor near the ocean bottom) and creatures like jellyfish and siphonophores, traveling with the currents such as the Gulf Stream. The bottom is typically 600 to 700 feet deep; the divers generally stay in the top 50 feet, well within safe diving limits.

Blackwater creatures photographed by Linda Ianniello and Susan Mears

Ianniello’s talk will have a special focus on open-ocean mollusks, including those featured in the Black Water Moments: Nocturnal Photography of Open-Ocean Mollusks exhibition of blackwater photographs on view at the museum through May 30.

“The photographs of Black Water Moments leave our visitors awestruck, and feature several unknown species of sea life,” said National Shell Museum Executive Director Sam Ankerson. “Linda Ianniello’s daring experiences underwater will offer unique context for the images of the exhibition.”

Ianniello has focused on blackwater diving for the past seven years, doing more than 350 dives locally. She has also traveled to the Philippines and Indonesia to experience these dives. She is the co-author, with Susan Mears, of the book BLACKWATER Creatures (A Guide to Southeast Florida Blackwater Diving) which chronicles highlights of more than 500 blackwater expeditions.

BLACKWATER Creatures is available for sale in the Museum Store. Book signing will follow the talk.

Cost to attend the lecture is $10 per person (or free for museum members, memberships to be confirmed upon registration). Refreshments, wine, beer, and snacks are included with event admission. Registration required at the shell museum website.

About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a Natural History Museum, and the only accredited museum in the United States with a primary focus on shells and mollusks. Its mission is to use exceptional collections, aquariums, programs, experiences, and science to be the nation’s leading museum in the conservation, preservation, interpretation, and celebration of shells, the mollusks that create them, and their ecosystems. Permanent exhibitions on view include the Great Hall of Shells which displays highlights of the Museum’s collection of some 550,000 shells, as well as the Beyond Shells living gallery of aquariums and over 50 species of marine life. For more information on the museum, visit or call (239) 395-2233.

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