• José H. Leal

Museum Celebrates Aquarium Groundbreaking

On January 18, 2019, the National Shell Museum proudly celebrated a successful groundbreaking on an innovative aquarium which will feature amazing mollusk species from around the world, including octopuses, cuttlefish, giant clams, and squids. Dorrie Hipschman, Executive Director at the National Shell Museum, explains: “The National Shell Museum believes that mollusks—the marvelous creatures that create the shells you find on the beach—are amazing animals. There are more mollusks in the ocean than all the fish and marine mammals combined. We started the aquarium project to educate others to the importance of mollusks—many are endangered and most people don’t know they exist. Yet they are a critical component of the world’s food web—including our own.” Sanibel led the world by passing the first-ever live shelling ban in 1994, and the Museum has been working to protect and preserve mollusks ever since. By adding a living collection of mollusks to its already extensive shell collection, the Museum aims to better inspire and educate its visitors and community. The aquarium project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida. The Museum is raising the remaining funds needed to complete the project. Once operational, the new facilities pay for themselves and can be used to underwrite children’s educational programs. The Museum is on track to open the aquarium on its ground level in early 2020. Visitors can check out for progress and schedule updates. To learn more about the aquarium or the National Shell Museum’s mission, please call Executive Director Dorrie Hipschman or Assistant Director Melanie Moraga at 239-395-2233.