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Collecting seashells on the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and the world

i Love Shelling After A Storm!

Sanibel Shell collectors florida

It was a shellebration today at Blind Pass! Around 9 am this morning, the seashells started crashing onto the beach at Blind Pass Captiva quickly building up into a shellacious treasure trove. OMG

waves of seashells

I’m kinda jumping ahead since I haven’t even shown you everything that happened yesterday… but… I can’t wait to show you this shelling frenzy that happened today. And because… two (that’s 2) JUNONIAS were found!!! Alisha from Tennessee found an absolutely perfect JUNONIA and not but an hour later her boyfriend Ron found the other one! Really! Can you believe it? Waaahoooo!

Alisha Ron Captiva Junonia

With the shell filled waves breaking right on our ankles, you had to react very quickly to snatch the goods ones out of the water while balancing on the pointy shells under our feet. I overheard Ron tell Alisha “No pain, no gain!”. Then she snagged this sweet little JUNONIA out of the water without a net. LOL Way to go Alisha!

Junonia alisha capitva isaac

Not one chip on the lip!

alisha junonia aperture

Everybody that was there was finding treasures of their own. Jill from Virginia Beach found this awesome bright orange HORSE CONCH!

Jill Va Beach seashell

Her friend Kimmy (long story short… we found out she and Jill live in the same neighborhood Clark and I used to live in. Small world!) found this ALPHABET CONE…

kim alphabet cone captiva

Lisa from West Palm Beach, Florida found an ALPHABET CONE too!

Lisa alphabet cone captiva

Lisa’s nephew Tyler kinda showed his aunt up (heehee) because he came up with this outrageously huge ALPHABET CONE! The Mac Daddy Alphie!

Tyler large alphabet cone seashell

Sue from St Pete, Florida plucked this gorgeous LIGHTNING WHELK out of the waves! And don’t miss all those goodies in her bucket too! wow!

Sue St Pete Seashells

Speaking of buckets… this next bucket belongs to Amy from New York. She was about to empty it into a larger bag to fill it back up again but I had to get a photo. Be still my heart. This is like a sheller’s dream bucket. Filled with sweet success of a well rounded shelling day… a FLAT, CONE, OLIVE, CONCH, MOON, NUTMEG, WHELK and TULIP. I know she had a MUREX in there so, yes, The SANIBEL SIX!

bucket of seashells isaac

This is the lucky gal Amy. Thank you so much for letting me drool over your bucket!

Amy bucket seashells

Jim from Nebraska was getting close to finding a JUNONIA when he spied this big colorful piece washing up to the shore…

Jim Nebraska junonia captiva

His mom Louise (Illinois) was just as happy finding this awesome ALPHABET CONE. Happy Dance!!

Louise captiva cone seashell

There were a lot of happy dances at Blind Pass today in the sun, sand, and shells since waiting several days after the tropical storm force winds of Hurricane Isaac in the Gulf Of Mexico passed us by. Congratshellations to you all for all of you fabulous finds!

seashells of captiva southwest florida

If you are coming in for the holiday weekend… Don’t worry. There are still LOTS of shells rolling around here in Southwest Florida!

shell collector beach combers

PS- Our thoughts are with the cities on the east coast of Florida and the northern cities of the Gulf Of Mexico who are dealing with flooding and havoc from Hurricane Isaac. Mother Nature can show as much bitter as she shows with the sweet at times.



  1. Fantastic!!! Since I can’t be there, shelling alongside you all, it’s exciting to see pictures of your awesome finds. I’m so happy that you guys found such great treasures!!

  2. OF course….we left on Saturday!! :\ Oh well, as usual, we’ll live our dreams through your posts Pam!!

  3. Ack! I have goosebumps on my arms looking at all those shells! And that big orange horsie would have had me more excited than a junonia (I know I’m strange, but I don’t think they are that pretty!) And all those sun tanned people walking on the beach while I sit here, pale and pasty, looking at my dried up old grass and weeds. Stupid Ohio. I’m so excited for you all! Stupid, stupid Ohio……

    • Anna, I was thinking the same thing!!!!

    • Anna, I SO agree with you about the orange horse conchs vs the junonias!
      Color my world ORANGE anytime! It is always my shell to find, esp live ones, which I photo! But I can make you feel better, cuz I am in Michigan! You’re a whole state closer!!!!!! There is nothing like Sanibel after a storm!

    • hmm… horsies vs. junonias…. I call that a stalemate! But for me, pale pink glory-of-the-Atlantics beat all other shells any time, so I get your opinion…..sorta.

  4. O-double M-G!!!! That has to be the sweetest shelling day ever!!! I am soooo jealous. Omg. Omg. Amazing!
    OMG. Lol

    • I had to go and look again. I can’t stand it! Omg. Omg. Really am happy for everyone. But I don’t remember all those great shells being found by everyone at the same time. WOW. I am blown away.

      Thank you for sharing this. Although I am snatching at those fighting conchs in the waves myself! Lol.

  5. Wow!!!! Thanks for sharing, next best thing to being there!!!!!

  6. Wow – what a treasure trove you got going there. That looks fab!

  7. Love the treasures you always post. One more month before we take our yearly trip there. Can’t wait

  8. So jealous and excited to be back there in December!

  9. Tropical storm + full moon= shellers paradise!!!!!!!! Wish I was there!
    Congrats to all of you happy shellers on your incredible finds!

  10. The colors of the shells are so vivid! Congrats to all of the finders!!

  11. It was on my bucket list, to shell after a storm on Sanibel. My dream came true but the reality was a wee bit different. Arrived Tuesday afternoon and shelled at Lighthouse Beach. Best time for shelling was 2-4 hours after high tide. We worked for shells, they were right at the surf line. Did the same thing Wednesday. Our last day was today and we first went to Lighthouse but there was not much. My nephew Tyler suggested Blind Pass. I wasn’t hopeful. But when we got there it was shelling nirvana!! Best shelling I have ever seen. BUT we stood at the surf line and it was very rough. We were only up to our knees and all of us took a few tumbles. We were all bleeding. There were so many shells and it was so rough, they’d hit you with quite a bit of force. My ankle is really messed up and hurts! But I loved every moment!! Everyone was super nice. People flew in from all over just for a few days of shelling. Pam is a true gem. So love this blog, the photos, the education and very creative ways she shares what we all love so much: shells. Hope any that are coming this weekend find some true gems like we did, Lord knows, there are plenty!

  12. Also want to add where we shelled at the Lighthouse. I know the currents, wind and other factors play a part and it is constantly changing, but we found the most shells right in front of the lighthouse. I believe the big horse conchs were found in between the lighthouse and fishing pier. Check your shells carefully as many had inhabitants, which was a surprise they could even survive because it has been so rough.

  13. Wow ! nice variety – I did make it over today but later in the afternoon…I didn’t get that variety (was focusing on horse conch and tulips shells that I never find on the east coast..)but picked up a bunch of fighting conchs and tossed a bunch of live ones back…hint to those going over – GET A SHELL SCOOP!! I missed sooooooo many trying to pick with my bare hands….

  14. Everyone is having so much fun! Congrats on all your great finds. :)

  15. OK – why am I always at ANOTHER beach when this happens????? Went to # 6 today – thought it was great….but wow, not quite like that! A lady walked past with a bedraggled welk 100years old probably – wondered if it was worth keeping – I tried to encourage her, but later we met again, and someone had just handed her something they didn’t want to carry home – a foot long horse conch – empty – and beautiful!!!! So she got her prize. Wow. But I’m happy with my stash….tomorrow I’ll hit Blind Pass. JL

  16. I can hardly stand waiting for tomorrow. I just checked the tide chart and I might just be getting up super early to head over there. I wonder if the Blue Moon will have any effect on the shells, does anybody know?

    Can anyone tell me where we can stop “before” getting to Blind Pass or the Lighthouse and buy a scoop and net bag????

    I’m so excited, please leave me a few ;)

    • You can probably find what you want at Bailey’s general store. They seem to have everything and had the scoops when we were there in the spring.

    • Thank you Katherine!!!

    • The blue moon is no stronger than any other full moon in terms of its effect on the tides and the shells. A blue moon just means there is an “extra” full moon in a 3-month (and 3-moon) season of the year.

      This happens only because our calendar year is no longer based on 12 months which are the length of moon cycles (in ancient times each month was 28 days). Our year contains a bit more than 12 moon cycles, so sometimes you get an “extra” full moon in one of the seasons, this time in the summer season. This happens once every 2 or 3 years, so it’s not really a very rare occurrence.

  17. Thanks for posting those wonderful pictures! It’s always nice to know what could have been! I’m happy for all you lucky people that are on Sanibel right now, and hope the shelling will be great when I get there in November.

  18. Aaw man… seeing all these shells just make me drool! :( We never experience hurricanes or typhoons here so finding a good shell along the beach is almost like gold panning! :) Really wish I was there collecting shells with everyone but no… I’m stuck in a 2 weeks camp so no beach visits so far… Feeling so deprived right now. :) Anyway,gorgeous Shell collection! Can’t wait for the next shelling post! Thanks Pam! :)

  19. I am planning to come to Sanibel about September 15th for a few days. I want to take advantage of the post-storm shelling but that’s the soonest I can get away. Am I right off the mark: will there still be good shelling that far after the storm? (My point of comparison is last February.)


    • It’s really hard to say what exactly will be left on the beaches in 2 weeks’ time from now… I would guess there would still be quite a lot of new or nearly new shells, even after another 14 days, but you never know what exactly the Gulf waters will do with the shell piles during the next 2 weeks. (Not to mention all the shellers combing the piles real carefully as they appear.) I don’t know what Pam would say about this, but I think 2 weeks away is rather far in the future to predict what will still be on the beaches, but I would guess that the first few days are the best by far.

      • Thanks Susan,

        Pam, what do you think?


        • Jean, Susan H and Lisa have taken the words right out of my mouth. Thanks yall for giving great information!

  20. Junonny-nonny-noonnias! Wow…..

  21. In answer to the storm shelling, we haven’t hit the peak of hurricane season yet (mid September). Ideally, would be a tropical storm like Isaac, minus the heavy rain, to stir up the gulf. So, might be another one. They keep forming but so far, are relagated to the upper Atlantic, far away from the Gulf. Please don’t think I’m wanting a storm to hit anyone, we are dealing with nasty flooding over here on the east coast of Florida and the images from Isaac’s destruction are heartbreaking. Just trying to say, chances are, another storm will stir up the Gulf.

    • Thanks Lisa, Susan, and Pam

      I too wouldn’t want to wish more hurricanes on you, but a nice stir-up would be great.

      It’s a dilemma whether to come now: am likely thinking it through too much.

      I am going to DC to be with my daughter and her husband for a few days starting the 19th so the question is whether I come there first.

      I guess bottom line this is a better time of year to come for shells than February, and a few good storms could make it even better.Of course hurricane season can cause airline problems so that can complicate matters a bit.

      I will be coming on my own as my husband isn’t a sheller and he’s already going on a fish trip to northern Saskatchewan. It’s not likely we’ll go back there together though we did enjoy our time there, so this is likely a good opportunity for me.

      Does anyone have any recommendations for a nice efficiency unit that is on the beach?

      • Blue Dolphin on West Gulf Drive has nice efficiencies, but they may be completely booked up.

        Oh, and by the way the director of the shell museum (Jose Leal) seems to think that winter storms that blow from the NorthWest are the most productive of shells.

        • Thanks Susan,

          I thought Blue Dolphin looked good too. One needs to phone to book with them, which I will try.

      • Jean, doesn’t it just stink that your hubby doesn’t shell? Mine hasn’t been to Sanibel yet, but he says he would not want to shell the whole time if we go together, lol.. I wish mine could be as excited for shells as I am.. :( I just wondered how it is coming alone to Sanibel? For me, coming from MN, it is hard to find people that can go with me, so I have thought about coming out alone.. I have the advantage of a lot of days off being a teacher.. Wish there was a sheller club! Then I could fly out alone when my friends and family can’t go & meet up with people to shell with!

        • Sherri I couldnt agree more!!! Maybe Pam can help us set up a shelling sister network for travel buddies!!

          • I think that’s a terrific idea. It would be fun and also a way to share accommodation expenses. It would also be a good learning experience.

            I was trying to think of someone to come with me but none of my friends are into shelling and my daughter can’t take the time from work.

            I’ve not gone on holidays on my own very often… just once actually….I am mostly retired so I too have time.

            I do like being on my own which is one of the reasons I enjoy walking the beach. (A true introvert.)

            I’ll let you know how my single holiday comes together.


        • I spent a week in July by myself and loved it…walked the beach for hours and didnt have to worry about anyone or meals! ( was there for a month…had family and friends with me the rest of the time)!…one more check mark on my bucket list! The hardest decision was which beach to go to! Cant wait to do it again! Next summer cant get here fast enough! The shell club sounds like a fun idea.

          • Wow, cool! I did hint about having a sheller club to Pam a long time ago in one of my comments, I was thinking of a sheller meet up group! Going on shelling day trips, or just meeting to shell at beaches.. That sounds so fun, Denise! I was going to do the same buut then at the last minute, my friend came with.. Maybe I will get brave enough to do it if no one can go with me this year! Then I will tell all of you shelling sistahs & see if anyone wants to meet up!
            Jane, please do let me know how it went! I wouldn’t mind being on my own, but I would miss having someone to show my finds to!

        • Well you guys may be in luck! I HAVE been working on getting a shellers get together! Sherri… I have not forgotten your comment but it isn’t as easy as I expected ;(. Nothing is set in stone yet but I hope to have some good news very soon and I will be keeping my fingers crossed too.

          • This is very cool Pam. I will be watching to see what develops. Thanks for this.

  22. Congratshellations- very good, Pam, very good! ;D

  23. I love all the shells…they are just the most beautiful things on earth! I just feel bad for all those creatures that lived in them. Pam, this may be stupid but do the empty shells mean that they all died…or do some of them find new shells to live in. Sorry if that is just ignorant. I tried to find the answer.
    I still can’t wait…I’m coming to find my own shells in 1 more week!

    • I hope you don’t mind if I have a go at answering this post?

      Yes Deborah in the Adirondacks, whenever you find empty shells it means that the animals that created the shells have died. And yes, the shell is actually part of the animal’s anatomy. We have a skeleton on the inside but mollusks have a skeleton on the outside; it’s attached to the soft parts of the animal, so the soft parts can’t somehow “leave” the shell. Land slugs and sea slugs are born without a shell, they did not “park the shell” and go out on foot… :)

      You are right that all the shells you see represent shelled animals that died. A good friend of mine calls shells “dead ends”!

      But don’t feel too badly about the shelled animals dying: many of the adult-sized ones had already lived out their natural life span and died of old age. Many of course were attacked and eaten by predators; some died young from natural causes such as diseases; and some died on the beach from being thrown up live and not being able to survive out of the water. That’s Nature’s way, and it may seem cruel to a kindly human being like yourself, but it is normal.

      It’s just the way everything works in the wild, but on Sanibel you really see the results of that process, millions and millions of shells.

      It’s probably worth mentioning that although snails can’t leave their shells, once a shell is empty, a hermit crab may take the shell and “wear” it for quite a while as protection. When the crab grows too big for that shell, it will go find another nice one and exchange the old one for a new one that fits better. :)

      • Thank you, Susan H! I really appreciate the lesson! I just wasn’t sure how it all worked. I have an even greater love for them now, a true gift from the sea. <3

  24. Beautiful treasures were found, I see. Wish I could have been there, but I had to work. Going to Marco tomorrow. Hopefully I have some luck there.

  25. To the empty shell question which was a great one, we have seen many live Tulips devouring other shells. Sometimes, you’ll see a little round hole in a shell and it was probably another shell that ate it. I didn’t know how shells were “born” until I saw egg casings on the beach. Sunshine Island Inn on Sanibel at 642 E. Gulf Drive is a small motel with a pool and it’s a short walk to the beach. Karen runs it and it’s clean and affordable. We’ve stayed at Island Beach Club, Sanibel Moorings and Blind Pass Condos. All were nice. Happy Shelling!

  26. Also, I heard that they are still dredging at Blind Pass. They have stopped because of the rough weather and storm but will probably resume as they are not finished. If you cant find shells and are up for a good 4 mile walk round trip, you can find the dredgers between Blind Pass and Bowman’s Beach. You can’t get near the dredge but can usually find some in the waters near it.

  27. Pam
    What great pictures and videos you take. I loved the angel wing one. We can certainly see why shells are called the the jewels of the sea. We hope to get back early next year. Meanwhile I’m enjoying the website.


  28. OMG is right!! I am soooo jealous! Pam, thank you so very much! These pics were awesome & so fun! I can’t wait to see what you have posted! Love everything about your blog! Congrats to every lucky person that is there after the storm.. Does anyone know why I can’t post my August trip shell picture to the iloveshelling Facebook page? Thanks, Sherri from MN

  29. Just got back a couple of hours ago from Sanibel, we drove over from Hollywood. We went to the Lighthouse first at 8 a.m. very few shells there. We couldn’t get a parking spot at Blind Pass so we drove to Bowman’s Beach and Wow….tons of shells. We got a couple nice Whelks, smaller Fighting Conchs and lots of Calicos in all different colors, I’m drawn to them because of all the color variations. 2 small Treasure chests, teeny tiny tulip just as cute as can be, I had to be quick and grab that one before it was washed away. I love barnacles and I found quite a few really nice pieces just encrusted with them. We also found quite a few maybe 6-7 “Live Conchs” with the prettiest dark brown and almost green shells but threw them all back. I took a close look at the mollusk inside and his beady little stem eyes were staring back at me saying, “please put me back”. :) I was happy with our day of shelling, I could have stayed longer but the heat gets to be almost unbearable. I can’t believe I’m even saying that since we moved down from Ohio 6 years ago to be in the sun, but seriously it was so ***Hot***. Tropical Storm Isaac produced lots of shells. We will be back soon!


  30. We had such a great time on Sanibel and Captiva this week and the shelling was spectacular! We will be back soon:)

  31. I spent the afternoon at Marco Island. There were lots of piles of shells from the high tide piling them up. I could tell that there were many more under the sand. When the waves came in it would take some of the sand out to sea, and leave more shells showing. I think the shells will be there for awhile to come. The weather was very hot, but some showers offshore cooled it down with a nice breeze. I’ll be going to Sanibel in a few days.

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