Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum Presenting Virtual Lecture Series

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

To celebrate its current “H2O Art Exhibition,” on display at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum from Feb. 9 through April 30, 2021, the Museum is presenting a free three-lecture series on the life-giving liquid, which will be available virtually via Zoom. Visit for link to Zoom invite.

James Evans

February 25, 2021, 5PM:
“Southwest Florida’s Water Quality Challenges and the Urgent Need to Complete Everglades Restoration”
By James Evans, Environmental Policy Director, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
James’s presentation will explore Florida’s water quality issues from the state, regional, and local perspectives, focusing on the impact water quality is having here in Southwest Florida. He will discuss the factors contributing to poor water quality and harmful algal blooms─such as blue-green algae and red tide─and how harmful algal blooms in 2018 impacted the ecology of our coastal waters and Sanibel’s local economy. I will also discuss the relationship between our water quality issues and the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and how CERP will help restore the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of freshwater flows delivered to the Caloosahatchee estuary.

Dr. Jose Leal

March 25, 2021, 5PM:
“Shells and Bad Water: Ocean Acidification and its Effects on Mollusks”
By José H. Leal, Ph.D., Interim Director & Curator, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
The presenter will discuss the some of the most recent finds and facts about the influence of ocean acidification on mollusks. Mollusks are small, slow-moving, slimy creatures that are barely noticed by most people. But there is much more to them than just a trail of slime or pretty empty shells. Mollusks are the second most diverse group of animals on Earth. There are at least 75,000 known species of mollusks, of which around 60% are marine. They are present in virtually all of Earth’s natural environments and ecosystems, including deserts, cold mountain springs, rainforests, and the deepest ocean trenches. They are important links in the oceans’ food webs. And, given the close association between accelerated increases in dissolved carbon dioxide (ocean acidification) and the chemical processes involved in shell growth, mollusks are probably the earliest to be affected by that human-induced phenomenon.

Ocean acidification is caused by the increased uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide by sea water. More acidic sea water affects the shells of planktonic (open-water) mollusks, thinning and opening holes in those delicate structures. Acidification is already a tangible threat to several species of planktonic mollusks, including sea butterflies (pteropods), which are key links in open-ocean food webs, serving as food for many species of fish, which in turn feed larger animals such as sea birds, whales, and even polar bears. Recent research also shows, for instance, that the small, delicate larval shells of larger species are adversely affected. Minute increases in the oceans’ acidity going forward will certainly prove to be harmful to large numbers of species of molluscan species.

Cynthia Barnett

April 22, 2021, 5PM
“Blue Revolution: A Water Ethic for America and Florida” 
By Cynthia Barnett, Award-Winning Environmental Journalist 
Water defines us as Floridians no matter where we live: Idyllic beaches surround us on three sides. Rivers and streams flow for ten thousand miles through the peninsula. We’re blessed with nearly eight thousand lakes and a thousand more freshwater springs – the largest concentration of artesian springs in the world. Florida’s economy and idyllic lifestyle are built on a foundation of pure and plentiful water. Yet the latest generation of Floridians has not inherited waters as clean and abundant as when they were born. In her program Blue Revolution: A Water Ethic for America & Florida, environmental author Cynthia Barnett shows audiences how one of the most water-rich states in the nation could come to face water quality and scarcity woes—and how it doesn’t have to be this way. With a shared ethic for water, Floridians come together to use less and pollute less, and work with nature as we prepare for sea-rise and the other tremors of a changing climate. Join us this Earth Day to learn how Florida can live well with water today, in ways that don’t jeopardize fresh, clean water for our children, ecosystems, and businesses tomorrow.

The Museum’s “H2O Art Exhibition” was created in partnership with Alliance for the Arts, and hopes to bring many interpretations and responses to our infinite individual and communal connections to water. The exhibition can be viewed on the second floor of the Museum during regular Museum hours (with paid admission). Most artwork on display will be offered for sale to the public at a labeled price set by the artist, and a commission will be donated to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.

About the Museum: The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum is a Natural History Museum, and the only museum in the United States devoted solely to shells and mollusks. Their mission is to connect people to the natural world through their love of shells and the marvelous animals that create them. Their collections, programs, and expertise inspire learning, support scientific research, tell the story of mollusks, and the ocean that they inhabit. There are more mollusks in the oceans than all marine mammals and fish species combined, and mollusks are becoming extinct faster than they can be named due to climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution. For more information on the Museum, please visit or call (239) 395-2233.

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