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

Whelks And Conchs And Fossils, Oh My!

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Fossil, Junonia, Lightning Whelk, Whelk | 30 comments

Doug shells Sanibel

Shells, shells and more shells rolled in the week after the storms hit SW Florida this week. Folks who didn’t mind getting their toes wet at the surf’s edge for a couple of hours were rewarded with some a-maaaazing gifts from the sea. Annie, Lucy, Heidi and Doug who were visiting Sanibel from Ohio all found some cool shells… and look at that huge empty HORSE CONCH Lucy (in the red sweatshirt) found- it was Shellectric!

Annie,Lucy, Heidi, Doug Ohio visit sanibel

It was like playing Duck, Duck, Goose… picking up shells and looking to see if they were occupied- Live, Live… Empty!

whelk shells after a storm on Sanibel

The shell game…

shellers at lighthouse beach Sanibel

It was almost too overwhelming to look at the beach with all the beautiful colors peeking out of the sand when the waves receded. Which way do I go?

shells in the surf-1

LIGHTNING WHELKS… it was like a people were tripping over them. haha (Ok- I’m sort of exaggerating… errrr.. sorta)

Large Lightning whelk grey color Sanibel

But Im not exaggerating about this…. Chris and his wife Karen from Vermont found a JUNONIA at Blind Pass- Shellzam!

Chris and Karen Vt visit Sanibel

Patti from NY was overjoyed to find her own big WHELK at lighthouse beach. Boom- Shellalaka!

Patti NY lightning whelk-1

Then I saw her one hour later and… she found another one. haha Ooo Shell-la-la!


You can see Clark in the background scooping up shells I showed you earlier this week while families all around him found their own amazing treasures.

Sanibel shelling after a storm

Rudy from MN was finding WHELKS too- he was around the same spot as Clark and there were plenty to go around for everybody. Happiness.

Rudy MN lightning whelk sanibel-1

This says it all! The day was so spectacsheller, Kathy was doing the happy dance and shouting to the palm tree tops. Isn’t she the cutest thing?

Kathy happy dance finding seashells

But hold on… I never even got to show you the crazy FOSSIL SHELLS that local shellers Pam and Cheryl found near the Sanibel fishing pier…

Pam Cheryl Sanibel fossils

Seriously, isn’t this crazy?

fossil shells on Sanibel

Shelling sisters Andrean and Karen from OK had the same instincts I did throughout the week because I ran in to them at just about every stop- they hit the same beaches at the same time. We should have just car pooled together hahaha. They even found the “FOSSIL PIT”.

Andrean Karen OK visit FL sisters

The last time this road got washed away by a storm, the City Of Sanibel brought loads of dirt with shells mixed in from the FOSSIL pits in Florida so thats why these unbelievable shells rolled out. That OLIVE in Andrean’s hand was still shiny- Wow. And… the shell just to the right of it I believe is a Mitra lineolata which was a common shell 5 million years ago but is now extinct. Cheryl had one in her hand in the other photo too. Blows the mind, right?

fossil shells Sanibel island florida

I hope to do a whole post just on FOSSIL shells you can find around the islands (to see a previous post on FOSSILS CLICK HERE ) but I still have much to catch up on (it was a busy week…. my birthday week- heehee). We also had an awesome time on our iLoveShelling Adventure yesterday so I’ll show you what we found there on my next post.

I know lots of you up north are dealing with some terrible weather and preparing for scary storms this weekend so we are sending love and warm wishes to you. Please be safe!

Oh and PS- The BROWN PELICAN we took to CROW (on my last post CLICK HERE) is still being cared for at the clinic. He still has a splint on his fractured right leg but they say he is making a nice recovery. Yahoo!



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Lucky Family Found Time For An Island

Posted by on Jul 30, 2014 in Egg Casing, Fossil, Lightning Whelk Egg Chain, Shell Tree | 24 comments

Seashell and beach bling wishes

Remember last summer’s Time For An Island vacation 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!

Shawna, Jennifer, Ashleigh and Dotti enjoy shells identification

They each placed a shell on a Sanibel Shell Tree to hopefully make even more wishes come true…

Wishing on a Sanibel shell tree

They also found some of those beautiful and colorful CALICO SCALLOPS similar to the ones I collected from my last post.

scallop shell tie die

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…

Common Sanibel kittens paws and calico scallops

“Y” not enjoy the common shells? There are thousands of them to sift through!

Letter Y shell

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.

lightning whelk egg case with dried shells

So cute! They look just like this…

juvenile whelks from case

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?

collecting shells in the dunes

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.

Sanibel Common Land Snail Helix pomatia

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.

fossil shells in a Sanibel cup

And they collected more FOSSIL shells. i Love these girls!

fossil shells in Sanibel parking lots

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.

sit n sift finding shells

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.

Just married Sanibel seashell wish

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Identify Your Shark’s Teeth

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Bull Shark Teeth, Captiva Cruises, Cayo Costa, Fossil, Lemon Shark Teeth, Mako Sharks Teeth, Sand Shark teeth, Shark's Teeth, Snaggletooth Shark Teeth, Tiger Shark Teeth | 22 comments

fossil sharks teeth identification

A couple of weeks ago we found quite a few SHARK’S TEETH during our Shellabaloo 2 shelling adventure on a full day Captiva Cruise trip to the north side of Cayo Costa.

rusty sharks tooth hunting shellabaloo

These are just a few of the many FOSSILS we found…

sharks teeth fossils

After seeing so many different types of FOSSIL SHARK’S TEETH in just one area, I wanted to identify which type tooth was from what type of SHARK. Looking through my handy “Fossilized Shark’s Teeth & Fossils” book by Byron Fink, this is what I found….

fossil SAND shark teeth


The SAND SHARK and TIGER SHARK TEETH are quite different and a bit easier to identify…

tiger shark fossil teeth

The SNAGGLETOOTH SHARK is easier to identify if the serrated right edge isn’t worn to much…

fossil snaggletooth shark tooth

The LEMON SHARK isn’t as easy to I.D. if the “gum” part isn’t as prominent as these…

lemon shark fossil tooth

I still have a hard time distinguishing the MAKO and BULL SHARKS because they look so much alike and remember, they have different teeth in the lower and upper jaws AND they look different in the Labial View as opposed to the Lingual View. The author in my little book described the LABIAL VIEW as … “The front of the shark tooth you see when the shark opens it’s lips to smile at you before swallowing you.” Then he gives us the meaning of the LINGUAL VIEW as … “The side of the shark tooth (rear) you would see if the shark just swallowed you and you were looking out of the mouth“. Oh dear! LOL

mako shark fossil tooth

Bull Shark fossil tooth identification

Some of these SHARKS TEETH can be up to 40 million years old when most of the state of Florida was under water. Yes, the Gulf Of Mexico has SHARKS… but not swarming off the shores of our beaches with black teeth waiting to get you so don’t worry. Live or “new” sharks teeth are whitish and most FOSSILS are black or dark brown. If you take the full day Captiva Cruise excursion to Cayo Costa State Park, don’t forget to look for FOSSILS!

arrive boat Cayo Costa

I’ve been asked for some shelling reports for Sanibel and Captiva this week but the shelling hasn’t been as productive as last week because of strong east winds that have taken the shells back in the water. But! Even though we still have the east winds now, we have a really nice low tide in the evenings tonight and throughout the weekend so I think we could find some keepers on the sand bars before sunset this week. Kathy MT commented on the iLoveShelling Facebook page and said…  “Found a whole sunrise tellin beauty, Kings Crown, murex, fighting conchs, small whelks, lots of colorful scallops ( my favorites are the bright orange ) and lots of coquinas at the Sanibel side of Blind Pass this morning“. Thanks Kathy MT! So maybe even in the mornings. So whichever beach you decide to go to, try to find the sand bars and also search in the shallow water. Good luck!

sanibel stoop low tide east end

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Collecting Fossils, Seashells and Memories on Boca Grande

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Boca Grande, Day Trips From Sanibel Island Florida & More, Fossil, Gasparilla Island, Nickerbean Vine, Sea Bean, Sea Pearl, Shark's Teeth, White Melampus | 21 comments

Susan lighthouse

I couldn’t be happier to have another Shelling Sister that just moved to Sanibel! I feel like I’ve found my long lost Soul Sister… Susan. Of course she wanted to get the whole shelling experience on the Out Islands of Sanibel…. so before I knew it, she hired Capt. Brian Holaway for a shelling trip and she invited me to go along. Weehoo! First trip with Capt Brian!

susan capt b boat

We left the dock at 8 am but unfortunately the tide was too high to find good shells at that time so Capt Brian took us about an hour north to the beautiful town of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island to show Susan a few landmarks by golf cart.

golf cart susan capt b

We saw the Gasparilla Island Light…

Boca grande Gasparilla Island lighthouse

We went to the Boca Grande Historical Society

Boca grande historical society

Brian’s friend Kim showed us fossils and artifacts on display at the sweet little museum…

artifacts boca grande historical

We went to the Port Boca Grande Light…

Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum

Then we hit the beach!

Boca Grande beach access

Where we sifted for SHARK’S TEETH…

sifting susan

Susan found a few FOSSILS like SHARK’S TEETH, fragments of STINGRAY BARBS and BONES.

Susans fossils

Along one of the beach paths we found a NICKERBEAN VINE with the prickly sea pods that host SEA BEANS which wash up on the beaches at times.

Nickerbean vine seed pods

These local gray drift seeds are called SEA PEARLS. So… now we know where they come from!

sea bean pearls nickerbean pod

I found a few WHITE MELAMPUS shells that were only 1/2 inch to 3/4…

white melampus identify

 But Susan found the grandpappy WHITE MELAMPUS weighing in at about 1 and 1/2 inches.

white melampus ss

UPDATE 6-21-12 – Susan H commented on Soul Sister Susan’s WHITE MELAMPUS saying “it looks as if Susan found a World Record Size (WRS) one. I’m serious, the largest size listed on Malacolog is 27 mm, which is just about an inch“.

So I got serious and dug through drawers of Clark’s dad old tools he inherited and found some very cool old calipers. Susan brought her shell over and we measured….

calipers measure seashell

Her WHITE MELAMPUS measured in at 30 mm. A World Record Size shell!! Thank you Susan H for giving us a heads up on this exciting news!

White Melampus aperuture ss

 I found a bivalve shell (it has a small hole in the top but it’s still pretty) that I didn’t recognize so after looking through all of my books… it looks like it’s a JUVENILE SOUTHERN QUAHOG. It has thin raised ridges that seem too delicate to be called a QUAHOG but I’m sure that’s what it is.

juvenile quahog

 When we got back to the dock at McCarthy’s Marina, the MANATEES were waiting for us!

manatee mcCarthys marina captiva

 We couldn’t have asked for a prettier day so thank you sooo much Soul Sister Susan for letting me tag along and to Captain Brian for guiding our gorgeous day.

seashells and sharks teeth


PS- Just if you are wondering…. Yes! Super Sheller Clark helped Soul Sister Susan and her beautiful family find their island home in paradise.  (I know, shameless plug …but hey, do you blame me?)

whelk on cayo costa

sailboat sand bar

pam brian susan boat dock captiva

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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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Shelling The Walkways

Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Decorate with shells, Fossil, Sanibel | 16 comments

alphabet cone driveway shell

Have you ever looked through the seashells in the walkways and driveways of homes and hotels on Sanibel?  When I first starting coming to Sanibel, I loved shelling in driveways. It cracked me up to find whole shells mixed in with the crushed pieces. We’ve been doing a few projects around the house the last few weeks so one of the projects was to freshen up the crushed shell in the walkway to the house. Clark bought a few of these bags…

shell walkway bag

So today I opened a bag and spread it along the front porch. An ALPHABET CONE! LOL (in the top photo) It was just sittin there pretty as a picture. I laughed out loud, ran to get my camera then opened another bag and this rolled out…

shells in my sanibel florida walkway

Too funny! I spread it more to find these…

whole florida walk way shells driveway

So of course, the next thing on my mind was “I’m going to find a JUNONIA in here!” So I opened the third bag to find these. Ha! It’s not a JUNONIA but it looks like the two on the left are some sort of VOLUTES  . There’s part of a COWRIE in there too.

seashell walkway shells

This is where I was spreading these shells. I’ve always told you that I collect those big pieces of old WHELKS and CONCHS that nobody else wants. Now you can see that I line them around the beds of my gardens. I love to be surrounded by shells!

fossil shell driveway

PS- Both sides of Blind Pass have been looking a little bare the last few days. Mid island still seems to be the best but very picked over. I havent been to the lighthouse since the weekend but I heard there was a very big TULIP that was found there so I guess that’s still pretty good shelling there. Maybe I’ll see you there!

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