Have you ever found a BARNACLE flower? They are beautiful clusters of BARNACLES that cement themselves to shells or other hard surfaces in intertidal areas which wash up on our beaches as perfect little BARNACLE blossoms like this…
When I was young, I thought BARNACLES were shells like SLIPPER SHELLS that attach themselves to HORSE CONCHS and WHELKS or like LIMPETS attaching to rocks and boat dock pilings. But they aren’t MOLLUSKS at all… they are CRUSTACEANS. They are in the same family as CRABS and LOBSTERS. Funny, huh?
I’ve even seen BARNACLES attaching themselves to SEA TURTLES, CRABS and even MANATEES. They don’t feed on these creatures they just hitch a ride for a lifetime and filter feed. I’ve seen several live BARNACLE clusters wash up in the surf lately so I was able to get a smidge of video before I quickly put it back in the water. You’ll see how the BARNACLES cement themselves head down on this APPLE MUREX shell while their legs come out searching for water to feed. [youtube]http://youtu.be/DC_Km1688YQ[/youtube]
I haven’t spent much time scouring the beaches of SW Florida in the last month since the shelling has been…. well… it’s been a little slow. Yes, there are nice shell lines at Lighthouse Beach and there are lots of the more common shells lining Gulfside City Park but we have come to a stand still in bringing anything home unless it is something very different than we already have collected- like these BARNACLE FLOWERS. Clark and I have neglected to clean, sort and organize our treasures we have collected since I have been blogging… So this has been the perfect time to organize. I found this cute little jar to keep them separated from our other BLING so now I can easily find them if we find more to add. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal… but honestly, this is a huge step to get us organized! So yes, I’m making headway in the Shellaboratory.
Now that I’ve started on organizing, I’m obsessed with it and can’t wait until it’s completed so I can show you. So while I’ve been shelling periodically at Gulfside City Park finding BARNACLE flowers and sorting through our finds from the past, Clark told me our friend Jim found a JUNONIA. Yes. A JUNONIA! He found it in the surf at Gulfside City Park Monday around 7pm. Jim’s wife Sue is the real sheller of the family and has never found a whole JUNONIA- dang it! They said that night they had only found one OLIVE in an hour or so when Jim saw color and spots in the surf that he scooped up with his shelling backhoe. Congratshellations Jim!
PS- Now I know what you are thinking… “impossible that perfect JUNONIA washed up when there were no other bigger shells coming in!”. Since we know Jim and he swears he didn’t play a trick on Sue, both Clark and I believe he found it in the water at Gulfside City Park. The conditions aren’t “optimal” to bring in deep water shells like the JUNONIA right now (high or continual west winds) but Mother Nature has a way of always keeping us guessing.
Explore with me! Join us Friday SEPTEMBER 12 on our iLoveShelling Cruise to Cayo Costa- CLICK HERE!
The only thing cloudy about our Captiva Cruises iLoveShelling trip to Cayo Costa were the live CLOUDY PERIWINKLES hiding in clusters on the tree roots at the south tip of the island.
It’s been such a month on the islands of spotting great wildlife. Everywhere I look, I am still seeing wonderful signs of healthy life… like these STRIPED FALSE LIMPETS and BARNACLES on those same tree roots with the PERIWINKLES.
Melissa, Juliana, Becky and Garrett from Colorado walked around those tree roots to find some nice empty shells as well.
They found a bag full of double SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS…
Sisters Teresa and Elaine from Pensacola, FL found some keepers on the Gulf side of the island.
Elaine collected oodles of different color JINGLES to use for a picture frame craft project.
D.J. from Avon Park, Florida found empty LETTERED OLIVES and an ANGEL WING wading knee high in the water.
Oh but wait… How could I forget? I have to tell you about the boat ride over to the island. We had a pod of DOLPHINS come over to say “Hi” to everybody on our boat.
When they swam closer to the boat, we could see there were 3 mother DOLPHINS… each with babies! If you look closely at this next photo, you can see the baby hugging up to the mother. So cute!
And the DOLPHINS weren’t the only wildlife coming up to say “Hi” to us… meet Casper The Friendly GHOST CRAB.
I have never seen a GHOST CRAB act so friendly! Seriously, “Casper” was not at all afraid of us and actually followed us on the beach. See? He got right in-between Sandy’s feet and hung out there for a few minutes.
He even ran into a shelling net like he wanted to play. hahaha What a character!
Even though the wildlife was exceptional, it was a wonderful day to meet exceptional people like Vicki and Bill from Arizona.
… And Melinda, Katelyn and Justin from Indiana. I especially loved meeting Katelyn since she knew all of the names of her shells but also loved all the wildlife she saw. Casper The Friendly GHOST CRAB didn’t want there to leave.
… And it was exceptional to see Marie’s beautiful family- Emily, Madison, Steve, Sandy and Ryan from Ohio. But… they were missing one Morgan, they all wanted me to tell you…. you’re next!
… And to see Bill, Michelle, Alyson and Anthony from Illinois.
I had met Michelle at Blind Pass Captiva last week when I stopped at the beach to see what the conditions were on the Captiva side by the jetty rocks. As I dug through the “picked over” shell pile, we got to talking and she told me she hadn’t found too many keeper shells but was just happy to be on the island enjoying everything else about the beach. That’s when I uncovered a beautiful FLAT SCALLOP with a tiny hole in the top. I handed it to Michelle and told her it was meant for her. I was soooo touched to see that she was on the cruise with her family AND that she made that FLAT SCALLOP into a gorgeous necklace with a little SEAHORSE charm. OMG I love that she made it into a special treasure to remember a special day we happened to meet. Shellers rock!
Lindsay had told me about an awesome HORSE CONCH she had found on Sanibel last week so when we got back to the dock at McCarthy’s Marina, she showed it to us. Wow! Lindsay, I’m so happy you showed it to us. That IS awesome and will clean up beautifully with a little elbow grease.
Even though the beach wasn’t piled up with mounds of shells this time, we were treated to a DOLPHIN show with babies, lots of friendly wildlife and most of all – a perfect day in paradise with a boat ride on calm waters full of happy people meeting an amazing community of likeminded shellers.
You won’t want to miss the upcoming shelling cruises! Check out the new dates CLICK HERE
Through cloudy skies and and patchy rain, I was thrilled to find this bright beam of sunshine called a CHESTNUT TURBAN colored brilliant orange. I know it doesn’t look at all “chestnutty” but believe it or not that’s what it is.
My second fave find in the last few days is another ray of sunshine…. a COLORFUL MOON SHELL (or also called a GAUDY NATICA). This one seemed exceptionally colorful AND gaudy…
Clark and I were convinced that the out islands would be loaded with shells still from Tropical Storm Debby and the weather the last then so we hopped on our boat with some friends and headed out to Cayo Costa. I found more sunshine with a little HORSE CONCH candy!
Daron, Jacob and Berringer donned the snorkeling gear…
…And found a FLORIDA CONE!
There were pockets of seashells hidden around the tree roots in the high tide wrack line where we found some BABY’S EARS.
Everybody loves these tree roots! Susan and her son Berringer were no exception. It’s the perfect backdrop for photos.
Clark was busy working his magic with the shelling backhoe and pulled up lots of LETTERED OLIVES and a few TRUE TULIPS…
All in all, it was a really fun trip on the boat but it wasn’t at all “loaded with shells” like we thought. So after our boat ride, we stopped at Blind Pass Sanibel….where it was “loaded”. I found my 2 fave shells of the weekend (the orange TURBAN and the MOON above) within 10 minutes.
I was also fortunate to have met EJ who is a research associate with Department Of Environmental Sciences at UVA (where my nephew just graduated…with distinction!) , Hannah (an educator at UVA as well) and her mom Crystal (AL). It was fascinating to hear about EJ’s project to map the mangrove ecosystems of Sanibel and research the soils and sea grass beds along SouthWest Florida. What a fun job! Well he must have mapped out where the ALPHABET CONES would wash up because they were plucking them out right when I walked by…
Crystal showed me her fave find which was an unusual cluster of shells. It is a double CORRUGATE JEWLBOX, double KITTEN’S PAW, BARNACLES and a few sprouts of CORAL that cemented together to make a beautiful little shell bouquet.
While dodging the storm clouds for 3 days, here’s an assortment of the shells we kept (Clarkis saving the LETTERED OLIVES for next year’s 4th of July parade already). Need help identifying all of these shells? Check out my SEASHELL IDENTIFICATION page!
Live Limpets on a fallen tree on Cayo Costa
No rain and no work! …. Time to get out on the water. We took the boat out to our fave spots North Captiva and Cayo Costa. We found three BABY’S EARS, a few WHELKS and WORM SHELLS (only a few) and the views were spectacular. Well worth the trip.
Periwinkle on Cayo Costa
Ibis and roots
South tip of Cayo Costa
Limpets in wood grain
Barnacles on tree root ( I know, nothing fancy but I thought it looked very picturesque)
Ibis in a Cayo Costa tree
Ibis enjoying the view
Clark with a Rocksnail
We weren’t really sure what this shell was Clark found but he insisted it was something good. It kinda looks like a worn KINGS CROWN but the opening edge is sort of serrated. It was really slimed with algae and gunk so Clark got it cleaned up and then check again in the books to see if it’s a ROCKSNAIL . That’s what it looks like so far. It’s got some wear and tear but it’s 2 and a half inches long and it’s not something we find every day. I think it’s a good find too, Clark! (Update- 10-7-10: Yes, it’s a rocksnail. We got verification from MurexKen and Dr. Jose Leal from the Shell Museum. Thank you both!)
Birds on North Captiva
Christine (Venice FL) finding shells on North Cap
Pelican landing strip