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

Living Like The Sanibel Shellbillies

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Bones, Murex, Owl, Screech Owl | 32 comments

sea turtle hypoplastron bone

I found this odd looking “thing” on the beach a while ago so I brought it home to do some research on it since it was so dang interesting. Sometimes I’m like Shelly May Clampett bringing home parts of “critters” that get washed up on the beach. Hmmmm…. “Hey Paw, which critter ya think this here thang belonged to? Ya think maybe a moose antler? Or some kinda critter lost a hand?” Shelly May may have never thought it looked like an alien’s Jazz Hands but I do! LOL After searching lots of websites without success, I found the answer in my trusty Living Beaches of Georgia and the Carolinas book and learned it was a piece of a SEA TURTLE shell. It’s part of the lower shell called the HYPOPLASTRON.

sea turtle hypoplastron bone other side

Two weeks ago, my friend Susan from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba had found a bone similar to this one and asked me if I knew what it was. Yes! A SEA TURTLE BONE! I wanted to show her a photo of mine but I couldn’t find it. Omigosh, where is it? Oh lawd, my SHELLABORATORY still looks like a SHELLNADO hit it. Every time I start organizing our stacks of shells, something else comes along so it stays a crazy mess.  Seriously, we look like the Clampetts (CLAMpetts heehee) on the Sanibel Shellbillies. Ack! So back to organizing…

organizing sea shells and beach bling

Honestly, it’s like discovering fun things all over again going through these containers and boxes… and then…. I found my SEA TURTLE BONE! Yay! This time, I wanted to find a home for it so I wouldn’t “lose” it again. I’ve been saving glass containers for years to one day organize our shells and bling so I’m making good use of them now. Every SEA TURTLE BONE we find now will go into the large jar on the right. All other bones from bait, fish bones and bird bones will be separated in other jars so that it will be easy and fun to do another post to identify some of the things you might find on the beach other than shells. beach found turtle, bird, fish and bait bones

I can’t wait until my Shellaboratory is finally organized so at least we won’t be total Sanibel Shellbillies and I can easily find the things I want to share and post about.containers for seashells

… Like these MUREX shells I’m sorting out. I have 9 different species to separate so once I have a chance to photograph the individuals, I’ll have another “the difference between shells” post. I love those!

Muricidae Murex shells of Southwest Florida

On a personal note without shells involved, it was a sad day to find out our wonderful palm tree that became an amazing bird condo for WOODPECKERS and SCREECH OWLS with have to be taken down. There’s no way to save it due to disease and it’s become unsafe with any high winds since it’s completely hollow now. We are so bummed! Clark, Dustie, PuppyCat and I have witnessed many nests, babies and families come and go in the tree from our side porch view so we’ve grown to love seeing them every day. We hope to find someone who will build a replacement for our same WOODPECKERS and OWLS for us before next spring so please let me know if you have suggestions. The Sanibel Shellbillies don’t want to lose our critters!

rotted palm tree bird house

screech owl our tree

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Tattoo Shell Crazy

Posted by on Nov 14, 2012 in Bones, Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's) | 22 comments

seashell tattoo Ashley

Do you love shelling? Ashley loves shelling so much she wants to always be able to look down at her feet to see shells any time of day … wherever she is. So she has seashells tattooed on her foot.  I love that! I especially love that because she is the daughter of one of my long time friends from high school, Laura. Laura, Miyuki, Ashley and Ashley’s bestie Ashlyn came to Sanibel for a visit. So of course, we went shelling. There’s nothing better than catching up with friends from the old neighborhood in Virginia while walking the beach in Florida.

Laura, miyuki, ahsley ashlyn sanibel shellers

They couldn’t get over all of the live and empty shells at GulfSide City Park (for a map CLICK HERE) that are still there.

conch shells sanibel beach

Not only did they find shells, Ashlyn and Ashley found so many cool pieces of DRIFTWOOD. Ashley’s looks like a dragon head, right?

Ashlyn Ashley Sanibel drift wood

I know yall are gonna think I’m crazy but I was thrilled when Ashlyn picked up this cool dried out fish head (Gar, maybe?) with all of his teeth in tact then gave it to me. haha I love the weird BEACH BLING! Thanks Ash!

fish head all teeth

 Just like I showed you in February, Miyuki is still taking photos…

miyuki photos seashells birds sanibel

Thank you Laura and Miyuki for the blast from the past!

Laura and Miyuki sanibel florida

Okay, I’ve got to change the subject just for a sec…. because….

The new 2013 iLoveShelling Calendar is here!!

Waahhooo!!2013 iLS calendar

It’s chock full of your favorite photos and memories of shelling on Sanibel so each day you can see and reminisce about your favorite beach. It even has a QR code on each calendar month so you can scan it with a smart phone to take you to the iLoveShelling post to read the story about the photo. Don’t know about QR codes? If you have a smart phone or iPad, go to the app store and download a QR code reader (I use RedLaser) for free. Then scan away! It’s so much fun!

It’s just in time for Holiday gift giving! To see and buy… CLICK HERE 

jan 2013 cal blog pic

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Morning Seashells from Sanibel Lighthouse Courtesy Of Isaac

Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 in Bones, Horse Conch, Hurricane Isaac, Lightning Whelk, Whelk | 43 comments

Sanibel seashell collection isaac

Now this is what shelling after a storm should look like! Woop! Woop! Look at those LIGHTNING WHELKS and that HORSE CONCH! But hold on… I hate to get you too excited. So before you start envisioning piles of shells washed up by the load full in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac already, the shells really haven’t made it on the beach yet. They are still in the water. That’s how our buddy Donnie found all of these shells this morning. By the time I got to the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach at sunrise, Donnie had already scooped the goods. See? All by himself in the water with no other competition. LOL

collecting shell at sunrise

There were a few FIGHTING CONCHS and usual suspects on the beach closer to the lighthouse point but not like Donnie’s finds.

shells at sunrise sanibel point

So before I get to the beach again this afternoon when the tide starts to recede, I thought I’d go ahead and post these awesome photos so you will know what to expect when these beauties hit the shore. Need help identifying any of these shells? Click on my SEASHELL IDENTIFICATION page…

Donnie seashell collection

Gorgeous shells Donnie! Should I call you Awesome Sheller Donnie since “Super Sheller” is already taken? Or King Of The Dawn Donnie? Donnie The Cone King (He’s found over 140 since January)? Never mind, I got it!… Donnie, The Shell Dominator! LOL

Donnie Sanibel seashells isaac

I just heard that Blind Pass Captiva had some shells churning in the surf so it’s hard to decide where I’m gonna head first in an hour or so. Acckkk! So many places to shell and not enough time! If I find major shell piles forming, I’ll will send a quick TWEET or post on FACEBOOK then post again here ASAP. Happy Shelling!

Oh wait! I wanted to show you that in case you couldn’t figure out what that thing is in the top right corner… It’s a sea turtle shell bone. I found a piece yesterday too but mine doesn’t have that bone piece running through it. BLING!

sea turtle shell bone

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Calm After The Tropical Storm On Sanibel

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Bones, Dolphin Beak Bone, manatee | 12 comments

conchs whelks sanibel

 After Tropical Storm Debby blew through Southwest Florida last week, things are now calm, the parking lots are cleaned up and I met lots of happy shellers enjoying the sunshine all weekend. I saw MANATEES that were even out socializing…

shellers manatee

 Remember Barbara from West Virginia who found the JUNONIA on my last post? She was back shelling near the jetty rocks at Blind Pass Captiva when two MANATEES swam right by her. Lucky Lady!

barbara manatee captiva

 The big pile of shells near the jetty was completely gone but there were still a few keepers rolling in the surf.  Candy from Cape Coral found a sweet little SHARK’S EYE…

Candy sharks eye captiva

 On the Sanibel side of Blind Pass, there were lots of shellers finding FIGHTING CONCHS and WHELKS…

sanibel seashells handful

My dear friend Mary B (she is moving away soon so I’ll miss you Mary!) found a perfect tiny FLAT SCALLOP.

mary b flat shell

 I loved talking to this next family from Ringwood New Jersey! Kevin, Alyssa, Kelly and Bailey have been coming to Sanibel for years and they Love Shelling! They just arrived when I was leaving so I hope they found some goodies.

family sanibel shelling

 My fave find of the weekend was this BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN BEAK BONE Super Sheller Clark picked up on the beach.

dolphin jaw bone

 These are the holes where the teeth were on this side of its jaw bone!

bottlenose dolphin bone

 Apparently, this is just one side of the mandible so this bottom right side was broken off the left side of its jaw.

dolphin beak bone mandible

In my research, I couldn’t find out what these holes are for in the next photo. They are definitely not from wear or from another animal so if I were to speculate, I’d say they were for sensory (?)…. but I wouldn’t bet on it. Do you know?

holes in dolphin beak

 UPDATE : Thank you Karen S and Jeff B for letting us know that the holes in this DOLPHIN BEAK BONE are called “Mental Foramen”. They are the openings for the nerves and blood vessels to pass through….and we (humans) have them too. Again, THANK YOU KS and JB for your comments so we can all learn together!!


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Beach Bling Is A Wonderful Thing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 in Bones, Dosinia, Egg Casing, Flame Box Crab, Horse Conch, Lighthouse, Middle Gulf Drive, Pen Shell, Purple Sea Urchin, Sea Cucumber, Sea Whip, Skate Egg Case, Stone Crab, Turban | 27 comments

beach bling flotsam sanibel gulf

If you want to learn the types of seashells, sea life, vegetation and what the different kinds of mollusk egg cases look like and live in the Gulf Of Mexico, you’ve got your chance this week. It all washed up on the beach on the East end of Sanibel.

beach bling flotsam

You can see it for miles. So many mollusk egg casings and PEN SHELLS galore!

mollusk egg cases Sanibel Florida

MERMAID PURSES! Well, they are really SKATE EGG CASES…

mermaid purse skate egg

HORSE CONCH EGG CASINGS (I shot this with the Nikon J1)…

horse conch mollusk egg case


mollusk egg casings beach

Lots of CRABS too. This one is a STONE CRAB…

stone crab sanibel florida

My friend Jane called me and said she found a dead crab shell on the beach that had a NAUTILUS  shell pattern. She has found a NAUTILUS before so she would know! Wanna see? CLICK HERE . So I went to see this crab…and it does have that pattern! It’s a FLAME BOX CRAB…

box crab jane

I also saw lots of SEA WHIPS. This was the first time I’ve ever found a WHITE SEA WHIP…

white sea whip

We normally just find the purple SEA WHIPS but when I went to see Jane’s FLAME BOX CRAB she showed me this bright yellow WHIP she picked up as well.

purple yellow sea whip

There were oodles of PURPLE SEA URCHINS also ( J1)…

purple sea urchin on seashells

I always get questions about the bones on the beach. They are from the bait in the crab traps… not random dead carcasses. LOL

beach bone flotsam

I also get a lot of questions about this guy on the left. It’s a SEA CUCUMBER…

sea cucumber sanibel

Don’t worry, I saw lots of shells too. Mainly, the double DOSINIAS.

Cyber Sheller Alert! This next photo is really big so you can do a little shelling and blinging…

dosinia sea shells sanibel cybershell

Looking through all this BEACH BLING, there are little treasures that look like this so you have to look closely…

turban horse conch shells

Some goodies were still washing in at the shoreline as well…

scattered shells south florida

The big find was by Seth (FL)! He found this huge HORSE CONCH on the sand bar near Donax Rd. Here he is with Erin and Reese…Erin Seth Reese

See? BEACH BLING is a wonderful thing… (J1)

beach bling flotsam jetsam

PS- Some of you know I’ve been testing a new Nikon J1 camera. It isn’t very spontaneous but when I do catch a nicer shot than with my spontaneous, trusty, easy, clear Panasonic DMC…. I’ve noted it.




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Boxes and Boxes of Sanibel Seashells

Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 in Bones, Purse Crab, Seashell geode, Seashells | 52 comments

Leroy categorize seashells

Shells, shells and more shells. Leroy can’t get enough seashells!

tubs of seashells sanibel

He loves to walk the beaches of Sanibel to collect any type of shell he can find to bring home then clean, oil, categorize and box them all up in his garage. I see Leroy on the beaches quite a bit so he invited me over to see his collection.

organized Sanibel  seashells

He categorizes them at home AND he’s a volunteer at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum to organize shell collections that are donated to the museum. See? He can’t get enough of shells. I got tickled at this next box since those gorgeous CONES were  mixed together with all of the other “UNIVALVES”. He said “I have a method to my madness… I just don’t have enough of those categories to have their own box yet since we just moved here 2 years ago”. Yep, that would take a lot of CONES to make enough for their own box… for sure!

univalve box

 He also likes to collect BEACH BLING! You know I love me some BEACH BLING too. This was my favorite in his collection… a PURSE CRAB that still had all of it’s legs attached.

sanibel florida purse crab

This is kinda wild- ALLIGATOR GAR  jaw bones…

alligator gar jaw bone

Before he moved here, he used to collect GEODES from New Mexico…

geode from new mexico

He gave me a GEODE that was formed inside a fossil shell and a few yard shells. This is the first time I’ve seen a SEASHELL GEODE. Thank you so much for the tour, Leroy, and for my new “sheode”! (FYI-“sheode” is not a scientific name, I made that up- heehee)

geode in a shell

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