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

Sanibel Sand Angels for Sand Dollars

small sand dollars in a blue bucketsmall sand dollars in a blue bucket

It was SAND DOLLAR mania at Gulfside City Park this weekend! It’s a very special day to take a walk along the shore to see little tiny SAND DOLLARS washing up at your feet…

you only live once to find tiny sand dollars

My friend Betsy and I decided to meet at Gulfside City Park for a few hours to walk the beach and do a little shelling. She’s lived on the island for a long time so of course she has perfected the Sanibel Stoop

betsy sanibel stoop shelling

We’ve been good friends for YEARS and it’s the first time we’ve ever planned a walk on the beach together. What took us so long?

 Maybe its because she is a very busy gal running the Sanibel Farmers Market …. which she has Good news! The Sanibel Farmers Market opens this next Sunday November 4! Yippee! So she had to get her shelling in now before the local food fun begins.

Local Roots farmers market tote with shells

We had soooo much fun finding those little SAND DOLLARS and shells then it got even better. We saw our friend Lori with her granddaughter Julianna…

lori julianna shelling sanibel florida

Julianna wanted to pick up every shell on the beach. She said “All of them are beautiful!” then she showed me the different colors and patterns of each one.

julianna with seashells sanibel florida

She learned how to tell if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not by looking for the tiny hairs (or cilia) around it. On the left of the photo (click on it to enlarge), she is showing a live SAND DOLLAR with lots of the “fur” around the sides and in her other hand is the dead SAND DOLLAR that she can put in her bucket to take home to always remember this day. Thanks Julianna for showing us the difference.

how to tell if a sand dollar is alive

Melissa, Jack and Robin were on a day trip from Palm Beach to do a little shelling because they said they loooove shelling at Gulfside City Park.

melissa jack robin shelling sanibel

I couldn’t help but notice this awwweeesome SPONGE Melissa was carrying. Wow!  I think is the coolest SPONGE I’ve ever seen on Sanibel so I tried to research it to find out what type of SPONGE it is… no luck. I felt like I saw hundreds of different SPONGES in my research but none looked like this one so if you happen to know a SPONGE expert out there, lemme know what this species is, ok? Anyhoo, I hope that dries well and you get to display it with the rest of your treasures, Melissa. Good find!

sanibel beach sponge

Jack was so excited about all of his treasures, he plopped right down in the sand and surf and started making sand angels. OMG I love it! Sometimes I feel like I want to do that too, Jack! Good for you for soaking in every drop of happiness being on that beach. I might just have to try it this week too. (Doesnt he look like a sweet little STARFISH? heehee)

jack love sanibel florida

The weather this weekend was perfect… high 70s to low 80s with low humidity and plenty of sunshine so it was another beautiful weekend in paradise.

royal tern wing span sanibel florida

FYI- After searching and walking for a couple of hours to find those tiny SAND DOLLARS in the water, we realized they were a few on the shore when the tide was at its lowest. I hope they are there tomorrow too!

shelling adventures trips by pam


  1. I will be visiting Sanibel on Nov 2nd-12th. Where is the Sanibel Farmers Market located on the island? I would love to check it out!

  2. Wow…Great post and awesome pictures…the kids look like they are having a blast. Love all the sand dollars and what an awesome sponge.

  3. I love that photo with the terns! A perfect moment!

  4. Great stuff Pam!

  5. The sand dollars hide when I am there! Still haven’t found one. My goal when we are down in December! And we “love” the Farmers Market. A Shellabaloo 3 Sheller.

  6. Hello!

    Love your blog and love Sanibel! The Farmers Market t shirts are adorable – do you know if I can order them online?


  7. Hey it LORI ! wow, how cool to find so many Sand Dollars. Even better, is spending time with Julianna at the beach! Great weather here on South Padre Island as well as Sanibel, I’m sure. You probably know they already dipped down into the freezing temperatures in our home town. brrrrr Enjoy!! – janet

  8. Wow, love the sponge! Lately, I’ve been staying away from sponges, because I don’t know how to process them. When I’ve collected them in the past, they dried grey and stiff. Do you know how to treat them so they don’t?

    • Ive heard of soaking it in rubbing alcohol for a couple of days… but i haven’t tried it yet. I’ll try it and let you know!

  9. Hi!
    I am a college student who loves to shell! I always look forward to the daily post and was quite impressed by all the sand dollars today! Does this happen often?

    • No, it’s really rare to see them that small washing up. Thats why its so special! Every day brings new and different treasures.

  10. Cute little sand dollars. When we were there in September we found hundreds of regular size Sand dollars but nothing that small. Adorable.
    Went to the outer banks last week and found a wentletrap! Never saw one there before. Nice surprise.

  11. I saw hundreds of sand dollars Sunday far out in the water at low tide but they were all alive! Some as large as my hand. I searched and searched but couldn’t find one that wasn’t waving at me.

  12. I was on Sanibel last week, staying just to the east of Gulfside City Park, and we walked up there to also find great little sand dollars. I walked out about 75 feet into the gulf at low tide several times to come across thousands of live sand dollars literally covering the sand. I quickly retreated back to clean sand, because I couldn’t bear to step on any! Thanks for your posts! They keep me going up here in Ohio between my Sanibel visits!

  13. I guess they wanted to take terns shelling.
    I hope it doesn’t take a tern for the worst!
    They say one good tern deserves another.
    I hope they re-tern to Sanibel when I’m there!

    OK, I’m done with the tern jokes.

    Just hope everyone doesn’t tern on me!

    Love your blog! It’s one of my favorites!

    • Oh Andrea. I laughed so hard I had to add this into my new post tonight! hahaha you crack me up!

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