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.
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.
I wasn’t able to enjoy the shelling while the super moon tides were at the lowest this weekend since I was tied up with other “stuff”. But high on the wrack line there are still so many LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CASES on the east end beaches of Sanibel.
Since I’ve been dissecting some of the BEACH BLING I’ve found over the last week (like the SEA WHIPS), I decided to go ahead and open up one of the dried out LIGHTNING WHELK EGG “disks”.
There are teeny tiny little LIGHTNING WHELK shells in some of the disks.
Isn’t that just a wonder? Talk about miniatures!
There can be up to 40 babies in each capsule. Isn’t that incredible?
I didn’t find that many discs with baby WHELKS in them in this case because it looks like most of them “hatched” already. You can see a little round hole on top side of the discs… this is escape hatch! They use this when they are ready to explore their brave new world.
Just to show you how teeny tiny the WHELKS I popped out of the case were, I’ve added one of these little juvies in this Wheel of Whelks surrounding a penny.