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

Good Weekend For Fun and Shellowship

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Congress Jewelers (Sealife By Congress), CROW, Rotary Club Of Fort Myers South | 9 comments

Rotary 6960 Captiva Conference w youth exchange students boating to look for seashells

I was honored and humbled to be a part of Rotary International’s District Conference 6960 over the weekend and to share the beauty and gifts of Southwest Florida with these awe inspiring folks.

Rotary international 6960 conference shelling excursion Capitva

Although the speakers, entertainment and work being done to help save the world (and I’m serious- they truly are helping folks around the world), it was time to get outdoors, take a boat ride to the secluded island of Cayo Costa and enjoy this amazing part of the planet.

Rotarians finding seashells on beach excursion during 6960 conferenence

And find some treasures!

Shells and Sand dollars found during Rotary International 6960 conference

I’m thrilled it was a beautiful day to hang out with them and thank them for their work. Most of y’all know that Congress Jewelers gives $25 gift certificates to all shellers on my iLoveShelling cruises but you probably didn’t know Scot Congress is a Rotarian too. He’s very generous to the shelling community but he’s also very generous when it comes to his Rotary Club so everybody on this Rotary cruise got a $25 gift certificate as well. Yippee!

Rotary 6960 enjoy collecting shells and fellowship at Captiva Florida conference
Everybody was excited about that and to find shells and fellowship… ahem… SHELLowship.

hands full of seashells at RI 6960

It was especially fun to hang out with some of the Rotary Youth Exchange students who, by the way, were having a blast. Really, do you think they were having fun? LOL

Rotary exchange students having fun on Cayo Costa Florida beach

The strength and possibilities that one group can do is so encouraging.

Strength in Rotary 6960

Okay so talking about encouraging… Dr Todd Golde – Director for Center for Translational Research Neurodegenerative Disease (in other words… he’s a guy trying to find a treatment for Alzheimers- pretty big deal I’d say) and the other phenomenal speakers at the conference were given thank you gifts from the District President Pete Doraugh… he chose to give them Pam Rambo Shellography! Wow, pretty humbling because again, its such an unbelievable honor.

Pam Rambo with Dr Todd Golde with shellograph

Okay, I know everything here isn’t exactly talking about shells or the beach but these things are very important to me and most of the time y’all enjoy the same things I do. So I want to share another Rotary service project they accomplished over the weekend. Ive talked many times about CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlifebecause we’ve rescued countless birds and other wildlife on the islands while out shelling that we’ve taken there (to read them- CLICK HERE) … so this is way cool. If you’ve ever heard about Ozzie The Bald Eagle here in SW Florida, you know that this BALD EAGLE was injured and taken to CROW for his recovery. Well, he is ready for is next phase of recovery so he needs to be in a bigger L shaped cage to strengthen his wings and practice flying hard lefts and rights. Rotarians to the rescue! They cleaned and re-sanded the cage to make sure everything is fresh and new for OZZIE the celebrity EAGLE we all fell in love with after watching he and his mate Harriet care for their EAGLETS on a webcam. We didn’t get to see OZZIE while we were there since this is a very delicate recovery but just to be able to help get his cage ready was really awesome.

Rotary 6960 help Sanibel's CROW clean flight cage for Bald Eagle Ozzie rehabilitation

So now you see that so many things on our islands blend together and our shelling community bonds us in so many more special ways than just walking the beach. Oh and I didn’t even mention that Melissa Congress (I’ve introduced you to before at Congress Jewelers) is the President of the Board Of Directors at CROW? Isn’t that crazy how our lives intertwine so much?

But the most important reason that this was a particularly amazing weekend for me was because my husband Clark (Super Sheller Clark) was responsible for putting this whole conference together as the District Conference Chairman. I don’t talk too much about this part of our lives (maybe one other time CLICK HERE) but Im very proud of him and the good man he is. Whoop whoop! Way to go honey!

pam and clark rambo at Rotary 6960


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Sanibel Shellendipity Shelliday

Posted by on Dec 21, 2014 in Birds, CROW, Surf Scoter | 13 comments

seashells from sanibel december 2014

The weather outside is delightful. Our Sanibel Island mornings have been cool and crisp with the afternoons in the 80s- perfect holiday weather to share with peeps visiting from Boston like cutie little sheller Raquel with her dad Jeff, mom Jackie and brother Adam.

family with seashells on Sanibel beach

They showed me their favorite shells they found near Gulfside City Park beach then named each one since they just learned the shell names from talking with other shellers on the beach.

favorite shells

This is how the beach brings people to together… I had met sweet Beverly (Maine) and her daughter Carolyn (Boston) just a few minutes before meeting Raquel’s family… which they had been ones to share some of the shell names with them. It’s such a close and wonderful shelling community!

shellers on sanibel

Then I saw Carol from Sanibel Seashells shop walking with a group of birders on the beach with binoculars, books and a clip board in hand. They were volunteering for the Sanibel edition of the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird CountBravo! They had already counted lots of birds in their count circle but leading the count in numbers were SANDERLINGS, LAUGHING GULLS, WILLETS and RING BILLED GULLS. So cool.

audubon society sanibel christmas bird count

I stood with them a few minutes as they counted a few adorable little SNOWY PLOVERS then we turned to the gulf to see a SURF SCOTER sitting at the edge of the water. How odd! We rarely see SURF SCOTERS on Sanibel and there I was with a bunch of birders to see an uncommon sight … and then to realize it was injured.

surf scoter Melanitta perspicillata Sanibel island

One of the Bird Count volunteers Katharine (Vermont) quickly ran over to secure the SCOTER then rushed it to CROW (Clinic for Rehabilitation Of Wildlife). Great job Katharine!
saving a surf scoter bird sanibel island florida

Which reminds me… I found out that the SANDWICH TERN that we rescued on our Captiva Cruises shelling trip had been released. Yay! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for MS. SCOTER too.

The day seemed so serendipitous which is why I love this next photo. Here’s birder Katharine rescuing the SCOTER with a volunteer bird counter holding a bird handbook. Then there’s Jackie from Boston witnessing the rescue who learned shell IDs from Beverly along with her daughter Carolyn… from Boston (in the far background). Shellendipity!

bird counting and rescuing

Oh and PS- Guess who is getting in the holiday spirit… my fave shelling captain Brian Holaway. He decorated his boat with SEASHELLS and STARFISH lights for the Captiva Boat Parade. So cute!

Captain Brian Holaway Sanibel shelling guide

The Holaway Holiday boat…

Holaway holiday boat

I’m in the spirit too so I’m off to make my SAND DOLLAR cookies for Christmas. Remember these? Everybody loves these cookies and they are so easy. (CLICK HERE for my post on the SAND DOLLAR cookies… but just in case you might no know, any time you see that I’ve highlighted and bolded words in my posts- I have linked to another page for more information – happy linking!)

Happy Shellidays!





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Collecting Seashells To Saving A Sandwich Tern

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Captiva Cruises, Cayo Costa, CROW, Sandwich Tern | 16 comments

Finding seashells and sea urchins

We found WHELKS, BABYS EARS, WORMIES, CONCHS and lots of SEA URCHINS on our iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa … but Jeff (from VA) got a head start of everybody else. He started shelling on the low tide mud flat beside the dock at Mccarthy’s Marina before our Captiva Cruises boat even left for the island! He spotted something on the bar then came up with 2 LIGHTNING WHELKS and a PEAR WHELK. Love it!

Shelling the mud flats

We arrived on Cayo costa to grey, overcast skies…

gray sky and seashells

But the sun started peaking out just in time to shine on the shells. Amy from Kansas City quickly found 2 SUNRAY VENUS clams with both sides still attached. It was a SUNRAY VENUS kinda day!

Finding Sunray Venus clam shells

Trish and Bill (FL) were having the same luck with FIGHTING CONCHS on the bayside where the boat anchored.

Shelling on the bay side of Cayo Costa

As I walked around to the Gulf side of the island, I saw Elizabeth and her Gramma Linda (Nebraska) working the high tide wrack line where all of the miniatures were hiding.

shelling for miniature seashells

Elizabeth said she saw a BUBBLE SHELL so then started to focus on finding a WENTLETRAP. Yes! She found one along with a whole host of other sweet minis like this FALSE ANGEL WING, teeny tiny juvie CHESTNUT TURBAN, CERITHS, WHELKS, CONCHS and even tiny dried SEA URCHINS.

Sweet miniature shells on Cayo Costa

Sarah from Fort Lauderdale found a few nice chunks of COQUINA LIMESTONE to use as display for the different shells she found on her trip.

Shelling on Cayo Costa

Sasha and Brooks (IL) found a few treasures to fill their shell bucket but I was thrilled for Sasha that she found a beautiful FLORIDA CONE.

Finding a Florida Cone shell

I was tickled to see Becky and Wade on the cruise! They are amazing shellers who love everything about the beach and end up sharing most of their shells since they have so many. They are always a delight.

Becky Wade with shells on iLoveShelling cruise

They couldn’t resist keeping the gorgeous double SUNRAY VENUSES. I don’t blame them… look at those colors!

Double sunray venus shells

There were some very cool WORM SHELLS that Ellen and Chad (Ohio) found but they found SUNRAY VENUSES as well and the one Ellen is holding up has an incredible color pattern- the color was as magenta as her jacket!

sun ray venus shells found on cayo costa

Jeff and Lisa found even more treasures to add to Jeff’s finds at the marina dock and they were also happy to receive $25 gift certificates from Sealife By Congress.

Shelling trip to Cayo Costa Florida

Yes, once again everybody on the iLoveShelling cruise received a $25 gift certificate to trade for a sterling silver charm or to use for anything else in their store. Thank you Sealife By Congress!


It was really fun to see Candace and Ken (MO) again (Candace helped me solve the Texas Longhorn mystery!) in her cutie tee shirt and she had strung a SUNRAY VENUS on a necklace with a silver charm similar to my DOSINIA necklace. Warm and fuzzies, I tell ya.

Getting ready for an iLoveShelling Captiva Cruise

But hold on, we didn’t just find shells… Sisters Cissy (Asheville, NC), Debbie (Chapel Hill, NC) and Karen (Charleston, SC) had great luck finding shells (the top photo with the BABYS EARS) but they also saw an injured bird that needed rescuing. Carolina Sisters to the rescue!

Having fun shelling Cayo Costa

They hurried back to the boat to tell Captain Skip who grabbed a towel then hurried to the beach to find it. He found a SANDWICH TERN unable to fly because of an injured wing so he gently gathered the bird in the towel to keep her secure then headed back to the boat to call CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation Of Wildlife).

Captain Skip saving a sandwich tern on the beach

As soon as we got back to the dock, CROW volunteers Jaclyn and Ryan were waiting with a carrier to get Miss SANDWICH TERN safely to the clinic for medical help and treated ASAP. I called today to see how she was – she’s gaining weight and healing her wing but she still needs a few more days to recover. Get well quickly, Miss BLT! heehee

Here are the awesome rescuers…

saving a sandwich tern on shelling boat

See? Shelling is ALWAYS an adventure. You should join us on one of these exshellent shelling trips with so many other fabshellous shellers. I just announced new dates through May 2015… CLICK HERE for the new dates and more info…

pam rambo shelling trips

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White Pelican Rescue On Sanibel’s Out Islands

Posted by on Jan 2, 2013 in CROW, White Pelican | 36 comments

John rescue white pelican

We are so fortunate to see spectacular WHITE PELICANS when they migrate to SouthWest Florida every year in the fall. Unfortunately, we found one injured or sick WHITE PELICAN while boating around the Out Islands of Sanibel and Captiva yesterday on New Year’s Day. Clark found him washed up to the shore line and saw he wasn’t even strong enough to flap his wings.

injured white pelican

Poor thing! But our friend John completely took charge and checked the bird for visible injuries or obstructions like fishing line caught in his feet or wings. You can see just how big this bird is while John inspects his wing. White Pelicans have an average wingspan of 10 feet.

john checking pelican wing

We could not see any physical injuries to his wings, neck or feet so we called Sanibel’s CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation Of Wildlife) to see if they could help. CROW First Responder Gareth wanted us to bring the bird (we named him “Whitey” by this time) in to see if they could help save him. So the rescue began… John held Whitey safely in his arms to get him back to the boat.

white pelican rescue

We wrapped a towel over the Whitey’s head and back to keep him calm and safe so Captain Clark could drive the “rescue” boat to a dock in Captiva…

pelican rescue boat ambulance

It was nice to have CROW volunteers meet us at the dock to bring a large cage to safely carry Whitey the rest of the way in my car to the clinic on Sanibel…

crow volunteers

Jane (John’s wife) and I admitted Whitey to CROW as their 4th patient of the new year where they took him immediately to the exam room to give him fluids and meds to stabilize him.

Crow surgery room Sanibel

We really don’t know for sure what made him sick or if he was just an old guy (or girl… we really dont know that either). All we know is that we tried to save him and John was the hero. On the boat ride back to the dock, we sang the song “Johnny Angel” to John and changed some of the words to “Johnny Rescue”. :)

injured sick white pelican

 Mother Nature will now decide his fate while the compassionate caregivers at CROW do their best to help him. I am so thankful he was only one out of the hundreds of healthy and stunning WHITE PELICANS we saw flocking around our islands yesterday who come back every year. They are a sight to behold!

white pelicans captiva florida

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Saving Another Sanderling…. Andy!

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in CROW, Seashells | 30 comments

alyssa with hurt sanderling bird

I was shocked when Alyssa showed me a SANDERLING she was cradling in her hands. She had found the little bird on the beach unable to fly so she picked him up because she thought his wings were broken. Oh my! But hold on, the story gets a little crazy so let me back up a bit so I can explain the whole experience.

Clark and I ran into Donnie and his two daughters Alyssa and Holly at the lighthouse beach this morning.

dad with girls on sanibel beach

Holly couldn’t wait to show me her shelling bucket full of cute shells she found…

Holly with shell bucket sanibel

Alyssa is an amazing sheller so she was finding all sorts of great shells but she had befriended a tiny little LEOPARD CRAB…

live leopard crab

As I was talking to another couple that hangs out here at iLoveShelling, Ken and Sue……

Ken Sue shellig lighthouse junonia wet suit

Then the craziness began!

sanderling bird in the hand sanibel florida

Alyssa brought the little SANDLERLING over to show me, so I called Clark back over to help with the bird. Guess who he brought back with him…… Mother Earth Marilyn!!!! OMG Do you remember her? I met Marilyn last year because she helped me rescue Sandy The Sanderling! What are the chances?

i Love Shelling unites Sheller

In the midst of all this, I saw Karen from Kansas with an iLoveShelling tee on so I had to call her over to say “hi”. So before I knew it, we had a whole group of iLoveShelling-ers standing there all together! From left to right- Andrea (Pompano, FL), me, SS (shelling sister with her tee!) Karen, little Holly, Donnie, Allysa (with the Sanderling in her hands!), Ken, Super Sheller Clark and Mother Earth Marilyn who cannot take her eye off that Sanderling ;). I would have loved to stay and talk to this fabulous crowd but we had to get ….. errrr… “Andy” The Sanderling to CROW asap.

crow rehabilitation of wildlife sanibel

The doctor at CROW said his wings were not broken. She said it was it was probably neurological issues caused by RED TIDE. Yikes! She said there is no medication for this but keeping him warm with fluids will be the best way to nurse him back to health to release him. She didn’t see why he wouldn’t make a full recovery. Thank you again CROW! But the big Thank You goes to you, Alyssa, for rescuing this handsome little creature, Andy the Sanderling.

alyssa with andy the sanderling

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Saving Sandy The Sanderling

Posted by on Jan 29, 2011 in Blind Pass, Captiva, CROW, Pen Shell, Sanderling | 20 comments

Saving a bird

Sandy the Sanderling with Marilyn

I knew there was a problem on Captiva’s new beach at Blind Pass when I walked by this little Sanderling and she didn’t move an inch. I guess most shore birds here know that “other” shellers are friendly folks so you can get pretty close to them before they fly away. This was different. This little girl was standing upright but completely still. I crouched down to see if she was hurt and realized that her beak was trapped in the “jaws” of a live PEN SHELL.

I tried to pry the shell open but I didn’t want to move the bird too much to irritate her bill. I had to get help. Near the parking lot, I found the perfect person….. I’ll just call her Mother Earth Marilyn. She just looked like she was ready for any beach rescue mission with fanny packs, nets, a big, wide, uv protected brimmed hat and the right attitude. She took charge and held Sandy The Sanderling while I tried to pry the shell open. I still couldn’t budge the shell so I recruited another couple of guys… one with a pocket knife and another to pry the shell open. She was released from the grips of that pesky PEN SHELL!

Unfortunately, the tips of her beak were broken off and she was losing lots of blood. We quickly emptied Mother Earth Marilyn’s shell bag and put Sandy The Sanderling safely in her pouch to rush her to CROW (Clinic for the Rehabilitation Of Wildlife).

I just got the latest diagnosis on our little patient at CROW…. Sandy The Sanderling is doing well!!

Sanderling bird


We hope that her beak will heal well enough to feed herself so she can be released back in the wild. Let’s all give good wishes for our new little bird friend and a big thanks to Marilyn for getting her in the caring hands of Dr. McNamara at CROW.

Stiff Pen Shell

The nice cousin of the evil pen shell that chomped on Sandy

PS- After telling this story right after it happened, I was told several times…..”The moral of this story ….. Don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong”.

UPDATE:  January 31- Sandy The Sanderling was released back to the wild! With the help of Dr. McNamara at CROW, Sandy’s beak was healing nicely enough for her to eat and manage her life on her own. That a girl!

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