What is a Junonia shell? 

Amanda Collett, Author of My Way of Shelling, holding a Junonia shell.

The Scaphella Junonia is a gastropod that lives 40-60 miles offshore making this gorgeous shell rare! The Junonia is the most sought-after specimen by avid collectors. 

The shell and its inhabitant are marked with a distinct dotted pattern. The background color of the shell is usually creamy-white with brown dots which allows the snail to camouflage with the ocean floor and the snail’s body is yellow with similar dots. 

Researchers have not yet discovered much about how the Junonia lives but we do know that they live at a depth of 60-120 feet and they prefer warm water. While small, the Junonia is a predator that feeds mostly on other gastropods. 

These snails are on the small side to be a Volute; on average, Junonias measure between 1-4 inches. The largest Junonia recorded is 6 inches in length and can be seen at the Shell Shop on Sanibel Island, Florida, and is owned by collector and businessman Larry Strange. 

Junonia are durable, strong shells but like all shells, they can be damaged in transit to the shore. They are often washed up by storms and hurricanes, so if you find one fully intact it’s certainly a prize! 

Today, shellers who do find a whole, perfect Junonia are most definitely the lucky ones. My advice to all shellers is this: if you ever find a piece or even a sliver of Junonia, you need to keep it. You may never find another piece in your lifetime. 

I know many avid shellers who have searched for over 50 years and have never found even a piece of the Junonia to add to their collections. 

Junonia can be found on beaches all along the Gulf of Mexico but the most common places are in Southwest Florida such as Sanibel and Marco islands. I’ve personally found 5 perfect Junonia, each on Marco Island in all different areas. A live Junonia can be seen in the aquarium exhibit at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, Florida. 

When and if you find a special shell like the Junonia, you will never forget that magical experience. Treasure your prize! 

By: Amanda Collett, Author of My Way of Shelling 

An author, collector and seashell artist, Amanda has created multiple award-winning art pieces and won The People’s Choice Award for Most Artistic Piece in the 82nd Seashell Festival Shell Show on Sanibel Island in 2019. Amanda is Florida Master Naturalist and Shell Guide with Treasure Seekers Shell Tours.

Visit our shop to add a copy of Amanda’s book to your tour!