Junonia Shell on Sandalfoot Beach

Hello from Sandalfoot Condominium on Sanibel Island. We have some very exciting news to share with you today! Jane Michaud, Manager of Sandalfoot and three of her high school classmates from Minnesota were out shelling on the beach and found a Junonia shell! The ladies were having a weekend mini-reunion last month and one of them came across a beautiful, different looking shell and picked it up. None of them are experienced shell searchers, so they didn’t realize what they had found until one of the ladies visited the Shell Museum and was told what a rare shell she had. Sanibel Island is known for its wonderful shelling. People come from all over the world to enjoy the hidden wonders of this beautiful tropical place and to find shells!

Those pictured in the photo include:

  • Top left is Kathy Peterson
  • Top Right is me (Jane Michaud)
  • Lower Left is Karen Zabinski
  • Lower Right is Sue Fredrickson

Junonia Facts:

The junonia belongs to the volute family which is a taxonomic family of medium-sized to extremely large predatory sea snails. Volutes are known for their very distinctively marked spiral shells. The family name refers to this as the Latin meaning of volute is “scroll.” Volutes have an elongated aperture and an inner lip characterized by a number of deep plaits. It is the elaborate and distinctive decorations of the volutes that have made them a very attractive collector’s item.

The junonia is a deep-water species commonly found in 60 to 120 feet of water, however it rarely is found washed up on the beach, except with strong winds or after a storm. Specimens that make it to shore frequently have been battered by the waves. Junonias often are hauled from the deep waters by shrimpers or dredged by divers. The junonia’s territory extends from the Carolinas and Texas to Florida and the Florida Keys.

The shape of the junonia is described as fusiform, meaning spindle-shaped, and the species can reach a length of 4- 6 inches. The background is a cream color with a pattern that includes spiral rows of mahogany- colored square dots. Subspecies displaying color variations have been discovered in Alabama (named as the state shell) and the Yucatan.

The columella or pillar around which the whorls form their spiral course may or may not be pleated. The radula (tongue) is very small and short and has only one row of teeth. Most gastropods have an operculum or trap door that they can shut to protect themselves from predators. The operculum is absent in junonias. The nuclear or initial whorls are quite smooth, with the post-nuclear whorls being finely sculptured. The soft parts or body of the sea-snail is a mottled purple and patterned somewhat like the shell itself.

For many years it was relatively easy to find Junonias to purchase in shell shops but recently I was told by a shop owner that they are becoming more difficult to acquire. The going rate is $30 – $60.

The first edition of The Birds of America by John James Audubon, published between 1827 and 1838, has a plate that includes not only two terns looking out to sea, but also a sea urchin and a junonia. At the time the book was published, this was a shell that was considered both rare and desirable.

How did the junonia get its name? Juno is the Roman version of Hera, the Greek goddess of marriage and childbirth. Juno was the sister and the wife of Jupiter whose many love affairs made her jealous and spiteful. Usually she was portrayed as a lady of stately beauty, with her name bestowed on members of the plant and animal kingdoms, including a flower and a butterfly. Peter Dance reports that he believes that Lamarck called this shell a junonia because he felt the shell was majestic but somewhat feminine.

Sandalfoot Condominium – Every vacation condo offers a view of the beach and is completely and comfortably furnished and equipped with everything you’ll need to feel right at home. Our units are all non-smoking. Relax and spend lazy days sunning and shelling on the beach or swimming in the large heated pool. Play tennis on our courts, bike the island trails, fish right from the beach, tee-off at a near-by golf course or go birding at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – the possibilities are endless. Your stay at Sandalfoot will be your most memorable Florida beachfront vacation ever! We consider Sandalfoot to be the best Sanibel Island rental value available.

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Call                          1-800-725-2250              to book your vacation now!

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