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A rare find; or two

Tim Croft
tcroft@starfl.com
The Star

She is way too young and we would never condone gambling, but Madalyn Shuck, or rather her mother, Angie, might consider purchasing a lottery ticket this week.

So far, their trip from Oldham County, Kentucky to the shores of Gulf County has brought significant good fortune.

That has produced huge smiles across Madalyn’s face.

On their first night after arriving Sunday the family was strolling along the beach when young Madalyn found a shark tooth.

That was just the tip.

The Shucks had come prepared for the shelling along the beach, Angie said.

Madalyn and she had discussed one of the targets of their walks.

“We love shelling together,” she said. “I showed her the rare shell we were going to try to find this year.”

That shell was a Junonia, something of a jackpot for shellers.

We will briefly note here Junonia shells have a distinctive spiral spotting pattern surrounding the shell.

So, Monday morning the family was back on the beach and Angie struck up a conversation with a new acquaintance as Madalyn continued enjoying the shore.

Madalyn gently interrupted the conversation.

“She shared she saw the (telltale) spots, started digging it up and held on tight as a wave crashed over,” Angie shared, adding, “She also came up with a handful of olives.”

“She washed it off carefully and ran over screaming. Oh, the joy of that fun moment.”

Indeed, it was a Junonia, and intact.

Angie added she was more excited that Madalyn made the find and not her.

The Junonia shell is among the rarest in the world and most are found along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The junonia belongs to the volute family of medium-sized to very large predatory sea snails that live deep in the ocean, 30 to 130 meters deep.

Volutes are known by their distinct marked spiral marked shells and are often part of bycatch of shrimpers or dredged by divers.

But they only make it to shore due to the forces of a hurricane or tsunami (or possibly, Tropical Storm as in Cristobal, who knows).

And the rarity of finding one intact is due to the rarity of a shell being pushed from deep water hundreds of miles by the waves of a major storm without some damage to the shell.

We recently featured a couple who had found 14 pieces of Junonias over the years before finding an intact shell.