In nature, it’s impossible to predict when you might see a MILLIPEDE SEASTAR or find a large pile of shells in the same place you may have seen it a week ago… or yesterday for that matter.
Because of winds and tides, the Gulf of Mexico is always moving. Winds from the east then west then north then south… the gulf is constantly swirling. Because of this continuous moving life force of waves in Southwest Florida, we get a fascinating view to watch our beaches constantly shift… leaving sand, sea life and/or their empty shells in different places every day. Just like this beautiful beach bling village I saw at Gulfside City Park beach on Sanibel Island this week, it won’t be there for long- wind and rain could wash this away at any moment. But I enjoyed every minute looking at this shellmazing piece of beach art.
We discover new treasures every day on the beach.
But it’s not every day when we will see a live HORSE CONCH and its egg casing…
Or see a LIGHTNING WHELK and its EGG CASING.
Even more unusual, I found this SLEEPY SPONGE CRAB (I believe its a Dromia personate) tucked inside a SEA PORK (TUNICATE) this week at Gulfside. Adorbs! This is exactly why a beach comber is called back to the beach over and over and over again. We learn something new every day!
I took a short little video to show you how cute he looked in his little SEA PORK house. I haven’t been doing many videos lately because I can’t figure out why they are so blurry- ugh. So I tried again and … oh boy….. it’s blurry still- grrrrrrr- but I’m going to go ahead and show it cause he’s such a cutie shellootie!
But wait y’all! Don’t forget the 80th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival is this week Thursday, Friday and Saturday – March 2, 3, 4 2017. And guess who will be there?!!! I will be at the festival every day with…..
Remember last summer’s Time For An Islandvacation giveaway for four people to stay at Island Inn? Well meet the lucky winners Shawna, Jennifer, Ashleigh and Dotti enjoying their time on Sanibel’s Island Inn beach!
They each placed a shell on a Sanibel Shell Tree to hopefully make even more wishes come true…
They also found some of those beautiful and colorful CALICO SCALLOPS similar to the ones I collected from my last post.
The whole island has been a little sleepy when it comes to finding huge new shell piles in the past week but of course these lucky gals had a great attitude. Along with CALICO SCALLOPS, they were collecting lots of the KITTEN PAWS, COCKLES, AUGERS and JINGLES…
“Y” not enjoy the common shells? There are thousands of them to sift through!
In the highest wrack line, there were still lots of dried HORSE CONCH EGG CASINGS as well as this LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CASING that still has some of the itty bitty dried WHELK shells in some of the capsules.
So cute! They look just like this…
As I walked off the beach, I turned back towards the beach to see how pretty the BEACH DAISIES were against the path with the backdrop of the water and sky… so stunning. And Oh! There’s Shawna shelling in the dunes. Whatcha doing?
She came racing over to show us all the shells she found just off the path. She found lots of CUBAN LAND SNAILS (Zachrysia provisory). They are Sanibel’s most common land snail. But… Since I forgot the name of this snail, I looked it up in a great local book Living Sanibel: A Nature Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands which is normally a great guide for things like this on Sanibel but they called it the COMMON LAND SNAIL (Helix pomatia) … that’s incorrect (those are European shells- oops!). So thanks to Steve R and Susan H who corrected the identification through comments, we now know these shells that Shawna found are CUBAN LAND SNAILS. I should have known everything about this snail since I have tons of them in my garden after a rain- they come out of no where! Anyhooo, they are really pretty when they get cleaned up in a very deluted bleach water bath.
Then they all said “There are shells everywhere here! We even found them in the flower beds and the parking lot”. They had cups filled with FOSSIL SHELLS probably from the FOSSIL pits up near Sarasota.
And they collected more FOSSIL shells. i Love these girls!
In the past week since returning from our shelling trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the weather has been hot and still without loads of shells on any of the beaches I have been. The good news is, we have had western winds the last 2 days so there are a few more waves to churn up some of those shells that have been out in the water… and hopeful bring them up to the shore soon.
There are always shells on our beaches on Sanibel but Mother Nature has control of which ones she wants to throw up on the beach for her to share. I don’t know what Shawna, Jennifer, Ashleigh and Dotti wished for on the Shell Tree, but my wish on the Shell Tree was to never take our shell strewn beaches for granted so that I can’t see the beauty in each and every one of the treasures that wash up on our shores.
Whenever we get an opportunity to go shelling in a different part of the world, we jump at the chance.
Fortunately, the opportunity to travel to Grand Bahama Island for a shelling trip was just a bonus. My husband Clark is very involved in a service organization called Rotary International which helps create positive lasting change for communities around the world. Grand Bahama Rotarians along with several Florida Rotary Districts met for a conference at the Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport for several days to … well … do their Do-Gooder deeds. Yep, that’s what I call them… Do-Gooders. LOL
So after the DoGooders finished doing their good work for the world, we stayed a couple of extra days to explore the island for seashells. At most of the big resorts in the Bahamas and the rest of the world (besides Sanibel and Captiva), they clean the beaches every morning to make it look sandier and nicer. For regular tourists, I guess that’s a pretty look for them but for beach combers like you and me… we want to see those wrack lines! Yes, they need pick up the trash by humans but the beaches are actually much healthier if the beaches stay natural with shells and plant matter remaining on the beach. Needless to say, we didn’t find many shells or bling near our resort so we rented a car to find the ungroomed beaches. We didn’t have much time to research the best shelling locations so we took a stab in the dark and headed to the east end of the island.
We stopped at several different beaches to find interesting shells and beach bling…
And stopped at every cute little shell shack.
And as luck would have it, we pulled into McLean’s Town to this dock…
We asked a few of the locals if we could find a boat captain to take us to some of the out islands to find seashells. Oh Yay-ah! We stopped at the perfect place. We found out that Joe-T is the best bone fisherman in town and he introduced us to his son Joe-L who grew up on the water boating to the best beaches and flats areas to find shells. So let’s go shelling!
After a gorgeous boat ride, Joe-L pulled up to a sandy beach with lots of wrack lines and rocks.
He showed us where to look to find shells like this WEST INDIAN CHANK SHELL …. which they call a LAMP SHELL (but honestly, I thought he was calling it a LAMB shell- hahaha). Nice find Joe- L! (and thanks for giving it to us!)
I was over the moon when my first shell of the day was this FLOWERY WEST INDIAN LACE MUREX. My very first one of this species with the brown color form.
It’s perfect and completely empty.
Clark was happiest to find this awesome ANGULAR TRITON. He reminded me right away how much bigger this one is compared to the best one I found in Turks And Caicos last year. heehee – Always a competition and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You know I loooove my beach bling so I was thrilled to find this WEST INDIAN CHANK EGG CHAIN washed up on the beach. Look how big it is! It looks like some sort of a sci-fi alien sea creature egg case.
Most of the sacks were empty and filled with sand but I found a few dried tiny juvenile CHANKS inside. Cool!
We saw plenty of beautiful fish and other live creatures but it’s always breathtaking to see the live CUSHION SEA STARS…
Our boating day with Joe-L was such an unexpected, unplanned delight… it’s a shelling trip we will never forget. These are just a few of the many different varieties of shells we found.
After shelling all day, we were famished. Conveniently, Joe-L’s mom Eva has a restaurant at their dock so we stayed for an outrageously good lobster dinner worth every reasonable penny.
Since this was such a short trip, we didn’t have time to check out the west end of the island for shells but I can only imagine we could find some secrets spots there too. It’s such a sweet little island I hope we return really soon. Oh and when I get our shells cleaned up and organized, I’ll post another photo.
Update- May 11, 2014… Now that we’ve had time to get home and clean up our shells and BEACH BLING… this is our loot!
Not bad for 2 days, right? Here’s another closer photo of the smaller shells and bling so you can see how many different species we found. They are sooooo beautiful!
If you decide to go to Grand Bahama Island, this might be useful information…
To reach Joe-L or Joe-T for a shelling trip, here’s the email address- [email protected] phone is 242-353-3676 or 242- 375-5219.
The hotel concierge gave me the car rental info Island Jeep and Car Rental– I thought it was reasonable and the car was great. Oh and by the way, the roads are in fantastic shape compared to some of the other islands (like Cat Island and TCI) but you still have to drive on the left side. (I drove the car the whole time- its easy)
The Grand Lucayan was very nice, reasonably priced, had lots of options for restaurants, shopping, etc and only a little over an hour’s drive to McLean’s Town and even less to the west end.
And before you ask about transportation… we didn’t fly over to the island. Part of the Rotary Convention was held on a cruise boat… the Bahamas Celebration. It was pretty cheap for transportation to the island from the Port of Palm Beach but Clark and I aren’t really overnight cruise boat kind of travelers. We want to get where we are going … so we could have skipped the cruise boat if it wasn’t part of the organized group. Next time, we will find a fight or maybe even check into the Fast Cat which isn’t an overnight cruise.
Hope you enjoyed the cyber trip to the island, mon!
On my beach walk at the Lighthouse Beach today, I saw many different lines of shells and oodles of Beach Bling in lots of different wrack lines to sift through. About half a mile away from the lighthouse on the gulf side, I found lots of fun minis in the high dried tidal pool areas (on the right of the next photo)…
Yes, I love to show photos of minis… But… if you know me…. I love me some BEACH BLING! I was enamored with all of the different egg casings for the different shells lined up along the shore.
LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAINS were everywhere. Female WHELKS produce these long EGG CHAINS which can get up to 33 inches long. There can be up to 145 capsules in each strand and each capsule contains around 45 eggs. That’s alot of babies, right? But that’s life in the wild- only the strong survive. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing
PEAR WHELK EGG CHAINS were a little bit harder to find but I saw about 6 of them.
What’s the difference between the LIGHTNING WHELK and the PEAR WHELK? Aha! Now you can see for yourself how much smaller and shorter the PEAR chain on the left is compared to the larger LIGHTNING WHELK on the right.
PAPER FIG EGG CASES (or the PAPER FIGS themselves) are never that easy to find but I did see about 3 different ones. They never get to be long chains like the WHELKS but instead they look like little corn cobs that are glued together at the sides.
I saw dozens of HORSE CONCH EGG CLUSTERS today too. Most all of the cases I saw washed up on the beach were empty inside each capsule. In each of the photos, I removed one of the capsules of the egg clusters so you could see what shape each of the capsules looked like.
Here is a HORSE CONCH EGG CASING, PEAR WHELK EGG CHAIN and a LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAIN all together on the beach. I saw other casings but I’ll have to save those for another day…. because….
Want to walk the beach with me to see what it looked like when I found all of these EGG CASINGS? I made a video! I’ve gotten some requests lately from peeps up north “jonesin” for my beach videos. LOL Love it! I don’t want to let you down! Enjoy!
After strong west winds last week, surely we would get some interesting shells and Beach Bling washing up on our shores of Sanibel and Captiva. Yep, lots of Beach Bling lined the beach at Gulfside City Park.
The winds were so strong, the strength of the waves pushed oodles of crab traps with buoys onto the beach. When traps get tossed around by the power of the water, their doors get jostled then spill out the bait for the crabs.
So of course, the bait gets washed up on the beach too. Pigs Feet! Yes, they use PIGS FEET to attract STONE CRABS and BLUE CRABS so that’s why you may have seen odd bones washed up on the beach- most of the time its from crab traps. I actually think this one may be a HOGS FOOT. Its weird and humongo! On the beach, I do not like pigs feet or ham, Pam I am.
But don’t let this PIGS FOOT be confused with this SEA PORK. More ham, Pam I am?
I also found lots of different MOLLUSK EGG CASINGS too like this LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAIN…
I saw there were little baby shells in their fluid still sealed in each of the disks so I put it back in the water. I’m sure they washed back up on the beach since the water was still pretty rough but … who knows. Maybe they got stuck on something out there in the water and were able to hatch. Dunno, but why not try?
This one is an EGG CASE to a PAPER FIG…
This is a BANDED TULIP…
This beauty is a TRUE TULIP EGG CASE…
When Clark and I looked a little closer, we saw there were several other EGG CASES that were laid on some of the TRUE TULIP EGG CAPSULES.
There were lots of MILLIPEDE STARFISH (and PEN SHELLS)…
This was a very cool LONG SPINED SEA URCHIN…
There were hundreds of DOSINIAS that were washed up on the beach as well. I was really thrilled to find both types of our local DOSINIAS scattered along the wrack lines. The top one is the very common DISK DOSINIA and the bottom one is the ELEGANT DOSINIA. I haven’t had time to photograph them but I hope to show the detail much better on my next post.
We searched Blind Pass (both sides) and Lighthouse but didn’t find huge piles of shells this weekend after the high winds but loved finding all of this cool bling at Gulfside City Park. I’m still hoping the shell piles will come rolling in soon but the birds are happy as clams with so much gourmet food at their beaks.
The birds do like stone crab and clams.
They like them here and there. They like them everywhere.
They do so like stone crabs and clams. Go Birds. Go Birds. Pam-I-am.
The most fascinating part about being a daily beach comber is having the opportunity to witness life stages of creatures of the sea. Over the years, we’ve been so fortunate to see KINGS CROWNS (Melongena corona) in different life phases which I will show you today to round out the latest cool stage I saw this week at low tide. The first amazement about KINGS CROWNS is looking at the empty shell. We have been lucky enough to find quite a few empty KINGS CROWN seashells washing up on our beaches in Southwest Florida. They’re so beautiful!
To find a shell occupied with the MOLLUSK responsible for making such an architecturally brilliant home is always marveling to me. Two years ago, Clark found a ginormous LIVE KINGS CROWNin the shallow water. We were both in awe to see such a magnificent site of a warrior and king of his territory to grow to that size. We were happy to return it to it’s home in the water to reign over his kingdom.
But then, we’ve also seen the other side of the battle in the food chain. This huge LIVE TRUE TULIP made an appetizerout of this little guy. Now you see why these MOLLUSKS’ shells are perfectly empty at times- they get eaten by larger MOLLUSKS. This KINGS CROWN had no chance against this very strong large TULIP. Down the hatch, little KINGS CROWN.
We’ve also seen remnants of a different part of their life… We’ve found dried KINGS CROWN EGG CASES on the beach…
Speaking of EGG CASINGS…. One of the coolest things we’ve ever seen is this momma KINGS CROWN laying her eggs on an old shell. Clark picked up this whole mass not realizing she was right in the middle of giving birth. After I snapped a quick photo, Clark gently eased her back in the water and she went right along on her merry way to spit out a few more segments. A natural wonder we’ll never forget!
Notice that I said “One of the coolest things…”. I’ve got just as cool or maybe even cooler! I witnessed another miracle a few days ago… Baby KINGS CROWNS hatching out of their EGG SACKS!
This was such an awesome site to see! This was one of those days when I so wished I had one of those mack daddy cameras with the big macro lens. These babies were so itty bitty and I could see they still had the embryonic fluid….. okay honestly, I dont know if it was actually embryonic fluid… but I do know they had cute little slime trails on each of the EGG CAPSULES. So amazing!
We’ve seen so many different cycles in a KING”S CROWN life, I wanted to reminisce about them with you before I showed you the video of these babies in action? Yes! I have video! At the end of the movie, I made a slo-mo to make sure you see the little guy on the right wiggling away. Adorable! Enjoy!