During the COVID pandemic, I was working in the Academy of Natural Science Malacology Collection. There, I fell in love with the wonderful biodiversity of mollusks and wanted to share my excitement with others. Given social distancing, this meant creating online content. It began as short YouTube videos talking about shells and interesting mollusks facts. However, I realized that free online identification guides could really contribute to making this biodiversity more accessible. These guides have been the focus of my efforts since. However, given the virtual nature of these efforts the impact remains abstract computer metrics. This weekend I was able to finally share my identification guides and excitement for mollusks in person!
Each year, the University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences has a tent at the Homecoming football game tailgate meant to communicate science with fans attending. This year I set up a table about the Seahorse and Co Identification Guides! The stand included a wide variety of Alabama and Florida shells that visitors could identify using the guides. The table had a visitor of all ages, and it was really fun walking them through how to identify different species. A particular hit was explaining how to differentiate right- and left-handed gastropod shells!
Being able to engage in-person about these guides has fired me up to continue expanding the Seahorse and Co biodiversity resources. This includes the creating the Gulf States seashell guide and maybe even some guides of other animals in the future!