How To Find Wentletrap Shells On Sanibel
WENTLETRAP shells are very hard to find if you don’t know where to look for them or you don’t realize how small they are. I can always spot another “wentletrapper” when I see one on the beach because they have perfected the Sanibel Stoop….and it’s a specific Sanibel Stoop. Clark and I were at Lighthouse Beach the other evening where I met Sailor’s Valentine artist Constance (Connie) Miller. I knew she was looking for WENTLETRAPS the moment I saw her because of her posture -heehee.
She and her husband just arrived on Sanibel from Delaware then headed right straight to the beach for wentletrapping. I asked her if she was having luck so she opened her hand to show me her WENTLETRAPS…
Would you like to find them too? Okay! I’m going to give you some tips! First of all, let me show you a video I made a while ago that will show you where and how I found oodles of WENTLES near the east tip of Sanibel.
I found the WENTLETRAPS in the video very high on the beach in the high tide line along with lots of other minis, BARNACLES and bits and pieces of other shells. In this next video, you’ll see the same thing… minis, BARNACLES, bit of other shells and also you’ll see another clue for good wentletrapping. I always look for what looks like coffee grounds washing in with the surf. Once you find those “coffee grounds”, get in position using the Sanibel Stoop method to get low to the ground to see these little jewels. Adjust your eyes to focus on the smalls then follow that line until you start seeing BUBBLE SHELLS and other minis to lead you to your first WENTLETRAP. Watch this next video to see what I’m talking about…
So as you can see, they will show up in different places but that’s why it’s so much fun when you find them! You follow the clues for your treasure hunt then practice the stoop until you find one. Normally when you find one, you’ll find a several more.
Okay, so the reason I’m back on this WENTLETRAP kick is because when I was talking to Connie and she showed me her shells, I realized that she had 3 different types of WENTLETRAPS in her hand. Look back at the photo of connie’s hand and you’ll see that the one on the left is longer and thinner than the others. So when I got home, I went through all of my WENTLETRAPS to inspect the differences in mine. I’m not an expert in the different types…yet (heehee)… but I believe (with the help of our good friend MurexKen!) that the first one is a LEAL’S WENTLETRAP (Epitonium leali) named after Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum’s director Dr. Jose Leal.
The second one from the left in Connie’s hand I believe is a HUMPHREY’S WENTLETRAP (Epitonium humphreysii). My photo doesn’t really show the tannish color in between the ribs but when you put it beside the others, you can see the difference like in her hand.
The third and fourth ones on the right are the most common to find on Sanibel, ANGULATE WENTLETRAPS (Epitonium angulatum).
So when I went through our 4 x 4 jar of WENTLETRAPS with hundreds of gems…
I found another type as well… the MATTHEWS’ WENTLETRAP (Epitonium matthewsae). If you look at the top photo in this post, this is the 4th one over and you can see just how delicate and beautiful this one is.
I found one more too! It’s the BROWN-BAND WENTLETRAP (Gyroscala rupicola)…
Okay, so I know this is a lot of info to just find a sweet little old WENTLETRAP… so I dont want you to get overwhelmed if you are trying to find your first one (Traci ;)). Don’t worry, one day you will find one. Then after you find a few, you can come back to this page and see if you have any of the more uncommon ones. There are two others that are found in SouthWest Florida but I haven’t found them or figured out those differences yet so I have to keep searching too. So get out to Lighthouse Beach, get your Sanibel Stoop on and get focused on your clues. I hope this helps you find those precious WENTLETRAPS!
UPDATE January 22, 2013 : There was another WENTLETRAP species found for southwest Florida. A PLASTERED WENTLTRAP (Family Epitoniidae
Cirsotrema dalli) . Read the story CLICK HERE.