I am still in awe of how many different seashells we found on our vacation to North Caicos and Middle Caicos of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I’m also in awe (okay, let me tell the truth…. “overwhelmed” would be the right word) because I took over 1100 photographs. Yikes! So this is what I’m going to do since I can’t smoosh all of these amazing shells, photos and info in just this one post. I’m going to show you our best finds now and then in my next post I’ll show you where we found them and a few maps just in case you ever want to go there on one of your shelling vacations too. After that, I’ll show you where we stayed on North Caicos and a few restaurants and other things we loved about the islands. But for now, lets get on with the seashell show! I showed you Clark’s KING HELMET, my ANGULAR TRITON and some QUEEN CONCHS on my last postbut these PARTRIDGE TUNS for sure made it on our “besties” list. They look like really fragile scotch bonnets without the thick lip.
Here’s a close up the bottom of our LONG-SPINED STAR SHELLI showed on my vacation “teaser” (heehee) post. I say “our” shell because Clark and I were snorkeling side by side when we both spotted this beauty as the same time. Gorgeous, right?
Here are the different colors of the GAUDY ASAPHIS I talked about…
We could have gathered hundreds of doubles! Clark collected so many different colors then picked through them to get the best to bring back…
The double SPECKLED TELLINS were such a treat too! We are always tickled to find beautiful bivalves when both valves are still attached…
Believe it or not, this is my first BLEEDING TOOTH NERITE. I saw oodles of NERITES, but since I was trying to be very selective in what we brought home, I chose this one I’ve never found before to bring home and it’s one of my faves!
And of course the SUNRISE TELLINS. Oh my. They really look like they have been colorfully painted then sprayed with a high gloss coating. It was astonishing to find a perfect double SUNRISE TELLIN laying in the shallow water half covered by sand. A true gift of the sea.
Oops! I forgot to put my MILK CONCH in my bestie photo but this has to be part of my favorites list too!
I found this MILK CONCH and a juvie QUEEN CONCH the first night we arrived… which was my birthday night. YAY! We didn’t want to waste a minute so we walked the beach as soon as we arrived and these washed up at my feet. YAY Again!
I love the minis!!!! Just like here in Sanibel, if we are visiting a beach and we aren’t finding the larger shells in the wrack line, at the shoreline or in the water, we start looking for miniature shells. We found them! They are just so stinkin sweet, arent they?
But wait! There’s more! I want to share Jane and John’s besties too!
You saw John Johnny Rescue’s QUEEN CONCH and Jane’s ANGULAR TRITON yesterday and they found the SUNRISE TELLINS and PARTRIDGE TUNS as well…. But… John found this very cool CONE!
It really doesn’t match exactly with that thin lip, high spire and a few other details and I havent had time to research further, but our best guess is that it’s a CROWN CONE.
UPDATE! Deenie just commented to tell us that this is not a CONE at all! It’s a juvenile HAWKWING CONCH! How cool is that. Now that I know what it is, I can completely recognize the shape and now I know why the lip is so thin unlike a CONE and the spire is so tall. Thank you so much Deenie!
Well how about that… John found an adult HAWKWING CONCH as well so you can see what that juvie will look like when it grows up.
And look at the color and lines of this RETICULATED COWRIE-HELMET!
What? Why haven’t we ever found these on Sanibel??? We have gobs of COLORFUL MOONS (GAUDY NATICAS) so why don’t we find their OPERCULUMS more often? Weird. Plain Weird. Thanks Susan for the heads up on this beaut. So now we have something new to look for in SouthWest Florida too so look at the exterior of this SHIVA SHELL to put this in your shelling brain. Anyway, John found this one in the high tide wrack line mixed in with some other Beach Bling and a few days later I found one too but it wasn’t perfect like this…
So how cool are these shells from The Caicos, huh? Let me show you the whole kit and caboodle of shells Clark and I brought back. Keep in mind, after rinsing and inspecting the shells we collected each day, we didn’t bring home the majority of our shells to Sanibel. We inspected for cracks, critters, crud or replaced them for better specimens. We want to respect the islands, sand and beaches so we have to be conservative with the shells we take. We only kept the ones we knew we would either display in our home or research for the blog. Look how beautiful they are! I could just sit and stare at all of these treasures for hours at a time!
I’ll try to give you as much information as possible about our stay in a short time so I’m already working on a map to show you where most of our shells were found on our exshellent adventure!
We went to Turks and Caicos Islands on our vacation and it was a-mazing! We explored just about every beautiful inch of North Caicos and took several wild adventures to Middle Caicos and found that to be just as breathtaking.
We had lots of sunshine and warm weather for great beach combing on their awesome picturesque beaches along with plenty of clear aqua water to snorkel for hours at a time. But… best of all… we found a slew of bright, beautiful and colorful seashells! Remember I showed you a photo in my last post of a KING HELMET? Clark has always wanted to find a KING HELMET shell… and now his wish has come true! He was (is) sooooo ecstatic about his find!
Can’t you see why?
He was not going to come out of that water until he found something spectacular since he was very jealous (but very happy for me) when I showed him what I found…. an ANGULAR TRITON!
Take a look at this beauty…
I still can’t believe how many juvenile QUEEN CONCHS we found…
We found them on just about every beach we visited rolling in the surf…
Most of the empty adult QUEEN CONCHS around the islands had large cuts or holes in the spire of the shell because the locals cut the shell to get the meat out for food so it was hard to find a pretty one to bring home. John “Johnny Rescue” finally found a gorgeous QUEEN CONCH!
I’m still in awe at the glossy brilliant colors of this shell…
Jane found a nice size ANGULAR TRITON too!
It was a little gunky when she found it but it cleaned up like a dream…
We were all thrilled to find SUNRISE TELLINS and GAUDY ASAPHIS shells. The SUNRISE TELLINS are the glossy yellow, pink and white ones that have the sunbeam pattern. We found quite a few different colors of the GAUDY ASAPHIS shells (yellow, orange, purple white and ones with sunbeams as well!) so I’ll separate these shells in another post so you can see the difference. Unbelievable, right?
I have so many stories and videos to share with you from our trip but I thought I’d start you off with the most important photos… shells! And that ain’t all, folks. We found looots of other amazing shells and beach bling so I’ll try to get organized quickly so I can give you the whole run down on Turks and Caicos. To see my other posts on Turks & Caicos CLICK HERE
PS-Now that we are back and I have read all of your thoughtful comments and birthday wishes from so many of you on my last post… I am overwhelmed and humbled by your kindness. Really. Thank you so much for all of your sweet words that made this very special birthday even more special. It really was a shellebration of living life and loving Mother Nature so it’s nice to be able to share that with people that feel the same way… you. Shellers!
To see my other posts on Turks & Caicos CLICK HERE.
OH, hold on! Don’t forget… I’d love to meet you on one of the dates so click on the next image to book a day!
We are on vacation! My awesome husband Clark planned a big vacation for us along with our friends Janeand John (Johnny Angel) to celebrate a BIG birthday for me! Im not gonna tell you how old I am but I hope we find 50 QUEEN CONCHS…
and 50 SAND DOLLARS…
or explore 50 miles of shell collecting…
and collect 50 wonderful island memories…
Wanna know where we were??? I’ll post lots of photos of seashells we collected and the location we found them in just a few days. I wish you could have been here with us because the beach combing was awesome and I know you would appreciate how gorgeous the beaches are. We all know Sanibel is seashell heaven but this has become a second heaven for us already. I can’t wait to show you!
We learned about Donnie The Shellinator (it tickles me every time I write that- heehee) and his PLASTERED WENTLETRAP on my last post, but I didn’t have time to mention the other shells he and Alyssa took to show the folks at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum…. FREAKS!
I know your eyes went right to the crooked LIGHTNING WHELK, didn’t it? I know, I love a good FREAK shell too but they didn’t find these last week, they collected these in the last year but since we got to see the real experts it was the perfect time to show the coolness. It looks like this WHELK was involved in some sort of trauma that clipped his “tail” (siphonal canal) but he was strong enough to rebuild his shell any way he could… and this time it was sideways.
On the left of the photo is a FREAK KNOBLESS FIGHTING CONCH. But “knobless” isn’t the only thing that is freaky about it. The aperture is so narrow with an unusual shape and it looks like the shoulder grew back up on the spire of the shell too.
Believe it or not, we don’t find many juvenile ALPHABET CONES on our beaches so Donnie donated his to Smokey of the Shell Museum who wants to complete a growth display. Nice, huh? Maybe it be added to a display like this?
It was such a pleasure to listen to the shell experts tell us what they look for to correctly identify different seashells and how to figure out what makes them FREAKS. I caught a small part of Smokey Payson on video explaining what could have happened to this FREAK LIGHTING WHELK to make his tail grow sideways. Sorry this clip is so fuzzy and unsteady… really, it’s not a great video but I really think you’ll like to hear Smokey’s take on these FREAKS.
Don’t forget to book your reservations to join us on an iLoveShelling ShellingAdventure!
Now you can add this PLASTERED WENTLETRAP to your bucket list of “Find A Rare SWFL Shell”. Isn’t it beautiful?
No, I didn’t find it. Donnie is back in action! He found this WENTLETRAP at Blind Pass Captiva near the bridge. That’s been a hot spot! He knew his WENTLETRAP looked different so he sent me this photo and said it was 1 and 1/8 inches long. That’s pretty big for a WENTLETRAP…
Donnie and his daughter Alyssa (who is an excellent avid sheller on her own right) were fortunate to have Dr. Jose Leal, the director of the shell museum, take a look at his special find.
Dr Leal and shell museum volunteer Smokey Payson were very curious to see it!
After Dr Leal inspected it through the microscope, Alyssa got to do her own investigation of her dad’s WENTLETRAP as well….
After thorough research…
And a meeting of the minds…
Dr Leal concluded that this WENTLETRAP is an Cirsotrema dalli and will photograph it to add to his list for southwest Florida shells. Yippee!!! Congratulations Donnie!
So let’s do this… for us “common-shell-name-folks” like me, let’s call it the PLASTERED WENTLETRAP as they do HERE. Since Dr Leal said this was an excellent and rare find, we all need to keep our eyes “plastered” for the shape of this one to see if any more show up. I’d love to find one too! And I’d love to find this book as well since this is the book Dr Leal found the correct identification on this shell. So if you have a copy of this laying around your house gathering dust, let me know so I can put it to good use to add to my research “library” (haha) too.
I have a few more unusual shells to show you that Donnie and Alyssa took to the Shell Museum… so stay tuned!
To learn more about the other species of WENTLETRAPS you can find on in Southwest Florida as shown in this next photo, CLICK HERE
Oh and Hey! Don’t forget to book your reservations to join us on an iLoveShelling ShellingAdventure!