One of the iconic shells that Sanibel has become known for, the junonia, always seems to draw the attention of residents and tourists alike due to its renowned beauty and scarcity.
And now, the world’s largest recorded junonia – a specimen measuring nearly six inches in length – calls the island home.
“Everybody who comes to Sanibel would love to find a junonia, or even see one,” said Larry Strange, owner of Sanibel Seashell Industries, who recently acquired the record-setting shell.
According to the Registry of World Record Size Shells, the largest junonia ever recorded – a Scaphella junonia measured at 154.0 mm – was collected in the Gulf of Mexico by The Hansbys in 1972. That shell became part of a collection owned by a mollusk enthusiast in Jacksonville, Florida.
Strange, a marine biologist and retired educator, was contacted by the son of the junonia’s owner, who asked if he would be interested in purchasing his father’s massive shell collection. “I had read about his record junonia, and I asked (the son) if it was still part of the collection,” said Strange, who eventually purchased the museum-quality assortment. “His father got the shell from a fisherman working on a shrimp trawler, who obtain a lot of junonias because they’re out in waters 40 to 80 feet.”
However, junonias are rather uncommon to find washed up on the shorelines of Sanibel, so they are highly revered by both amateur and serious shell enthusiasts. In the four weeks since the giant junonia has been on display at the family-run business, Strange noted that people are coming into the store just to see the record-setting shell. “People are walking in and ask just to see it, or take a photo with it,” he said, noting that the shell is encased under a glass dome inside the main display case of the store, located at 1544 Periwinkle Way.
Of course, he’s been asked several times if the junonia is for sale.
“Some people want to know how much it is,” added Strange with a smile. “But it’s not for sale at any price.”
All are welcome to stop by Sanibel Seashell Industries and see the world’s largest junonia in person. The business – which originally opened in 1942 – is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 239-472-1603 or visit www.seashells.com for more information.
Thanks to our friends at the Island Sun for sharing!