2022 Season Lecture Series

Presenting Sponsor

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Cynthia Barnett
Award-Winning Environmental Journalist 

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The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans

Friday, January 21, 5:30pm

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

 

Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

 

Refreshments, wine, beer, and snacks included with event admission. Book sale and book signing to follow the talk.

The human fascination with seashells is primal. Archeological evidence suggests that Neanderthals collected cockle shells on the coast of what is modern Spain, perhaps giving preference to those they found beautiful. In Florida, the Calusa built “great cities of shell” on the southern coasts, later carted off for road fill. In the 1950s, the nation burned with seashell-collecting fever only a Sanibel vacation could cure.

 

In a special program for the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum where the idea for her newly-released book The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans was born, award-winning environmental author Cynthia Barnett will give us an inside look on her six-year journey researching the profound relationship between humans and seashells. Traveling from Florida to the Bahamas to the Maldives, West Africa, and beyond, Barnett explores the ancient history of shells as global currency, their use as religious and luxury objects, and the rarely appreciated but remarkable creatures that make them. For eons, shells and their mollusk makers have reflected humanity’s shifting attitudes toward and precarious place in the natural world. While shells reveal how humans have altered the climate and the sea—down to its very chemistry—they are also sentinels of hope for alternative energy and other solutions that lie beneath the waves.

 

With her engaging account of an aspect of nature and culture long hidden in plain sight, Barnett illuminates the beauty and wonder of seashells as well as the human ingenuity and scientific solutions they represent for our warming world.

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Sy Montgomery
New York Times Best-Selling Author and National Book Award Finalist 

The Soul of An Octopus

Tuesday, February 1, 5:30pm

The Community House, Sanibel Island

This lecture is made possible by Fran Peters and Island Vacations

Cost: $35 ($30 Museum Members)

 

Refreshments, wine, beer, and snacks included with event admission. Book sale and book signing to follow the talk.

Can an octopus have a mind and feelings, much less a soul? In her three years of research for her book, National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery established such close friendships with Giant Pacific Octopuses that the animals would rise from their tanks to greet her, and then embrace her with hundreds of powerful, white suckers – all while looking her directly in the eye and turning color, flushed with emotion. Sy's talk shares details of these extraordinary relationships, as well as surprising scholarly research revealing octopuses' remarkable intellectual abilities as they solve puzzles, communicate through color and shape, and play with people and toys. Pursuing these solitary shape-shifters – creatures with no bones, three hearts, and blue blood – Sy examines the many kinds of possible minds, the mystery of consciousness and the nature of love.

 

Researching articles, films, and her 30 books for adults and children, New York Times best-selling author and National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Rwanda, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and pink dolphins in the Amazon. Her work has taken her from the cloud forest of Papua, New Guinea to the Altai Mountains of the Gobi. For The Soul of An Octopus, she not only befriended octopuses at the New England Aquarium but also scuba-dived and snorkeled with wild octopuses in Mexico and French Polynesia. She lives in Hancock, New Hampshire with her husband, the author Howard Mansfield, their border collie Thurber, and a fine flock of hens.

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Dr. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer
Curator of Musical Instruments, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shell Trumpets: The Sound Heard Around the World 

Wednesday, February 16, 5:30pm

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

 

Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

 

Refreshments, wine, beer, and snacks included with event admission.

One of the world’s most widespread, enduring, and beautifully designed musical instruments was not made by human hands - it is the elegant shell of various types of conchs. Humble but majestic, at once both practical and mystical, conch trumpets have been used for millennia to signal, convey power, accompany spiritual practice, and make music. From conch playing traditions around the globe as chronicled in a surprising range of art and lore to a demonstration of how conch horns work and sound, this talk explores the timeless art and artistry of shell trumpets. 

 

Dr Bradley Strauchen-Scherer is Curator in the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she led the renovation and reinterpretation of the Met’s five music galleries. Her exhibition work and numerous publications explore the intersections between music, instruments, art, and cultural history. Bradley received her PhD from the University of Oxford and is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. Her fascination with conch horns is deeply bound up with her activities as a performer and scholar of historical brass instruments. 

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Linda Ianniello
Award-Winning Photographer

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Deep Water Adventure: The Unexpected and Beautiful World of Blackwater Diving and Photography

Tuesday, March 15, 5:30pm

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum 

 

Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

 

Refreshments, wine, beer, and snacks included with event admission. Book sale and book signing to follow the talk.

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.

 

Linda 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. Her talk will have a special focus on mollusks, including those featured in an exhibition of blackwater photographs by Linda and Susan Mears Black Water Moments: Nocturnal Photography of Open-Ocean Mollusks, on view at the Museum December 10, 2021 – May 30, 2022.

Linda Ianniello has focused on blackwater diving for the past 7 years, doing over 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).

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Andrew West
Photographer / Multimedia Journalist

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Paradise Considered: Photographs of Nature and Change in Southwest Florida

A Conversation with Andrew West of The News-Press 

Wednesday, April 6, 5:30pm

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Cost: $10 or FREE for Museum Members (memberships to be confirmed upon registration)

Refreshments, wine, beer, and snacks included with event admission. 

 

The nature of Southwest Florida is stunning and unique in its power to inspire the devotion of residents, influence the economy and government, and attract millions of visitors from around the world. It is also constantly changing and increasingly at risk as a result of both natural processes and man-made factors. For over 20 years, Visual Journalist Andrew West has documented the beauty, complexity, and important events of the region’s natural world as a photographer for The News-Press newspaper. 


In conversation with the audience and Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum Executive Director Sam Ankerson, Andrew shares some of his most compelling photographs of the region and the stories, events, and issues behind them. This program is in conjunction with the exhibition Red, Blue, Green: An Introduction to Water Quality in Southwest Florida, which is on view January 15 – June 10 at the Museum and which features several of Andrew’s photographs.