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

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 | 21 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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Tam Tam Finds A Queen Conch On Sanibel

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Bittersweet Clam, Fossil, Giant Bittersweet, Golden Olive, Queen Conch, Sanibel | 27 comments

Tammy juvenile queen conch Sanibel Florida

A juvenile QUEEN CONCH is a very rare find on Sanibel…. and “our ” Tammy found one!!! If you’ve ever read the comments on any of my posts, her name is “Tam Tam From Michigan” and I finally got to meet her (in real life person!) this weekend on Sanibel and this was the first thing she showed me.

queen conch juvenile beach washed sanibel

A juvenile QUEEN CONCH! You can find them in the Bahamas and The Florida Keys but it’s not often I hear of anybody finding one  here. I’m so happy for her!

juvenile queen conch sanibel aperture

Like Donnie, she might be a little shell crazy too. She looooves shells so much, she even named her daughter Shell. This is Shell sittin ‘n siftin on a big pile off West Gulf Drive near Shalimar. Or maybe I should say… this is Shell shelling….

Shell finding seashells

She told me that “Tammy” means “Palm Tree” in another language then showed me her new tattoo…

Tammy tattoo palm tree

So of course since her daughter’s name is Shell and her name means Palm Tree…so she looves Sanibel and so do her girlfriends! They all love shelling Sanibel. This is Claudette (FL), Shell, Barb (VA),Tam Tam, Karen, Tracy (FL). You’ve met Claudette and Karen here before CLICK HERE and Karen happens to be Tam Tam’s cousin. The world is getting smaller, isn’t it? How cute are they with their i Love Shelling tee!!!

i Love Shelling sistahs

And the shelling sistahs can phoon too…. LOL…

phooning Sanibel

Here are some of the other fabulous treasures Tam Tam found…

Tammy seashells Sanibel

And even more…

Tammy all different shells Sanibel

Check this out… it’s an imprint (fossil, it apprears) of seashells formed in some sort of rock (Clark thinks it is limestone).

seashell imprints Tammy stone

 The cousins were having great luck! Karen found this GOLDEN OLIVE…

golden olive karen wg

 She and Claudette were finding lots of BITTERSWEETS on the beach too. I have found a few lately and I always feel like I’ve found quite a treasure when I see them. They are just so colorful!

bittersweet seashells sanibel florida

Congrats again Tam Tam! Your QUEEN CONCH is quite the catch and I feel so lucky too to finally get to meet you and Shell. Oh and I want to share a poem again that Tammy (Tam Tam) wrote. I posted My Sweet Sanibel on May 12, 2010. CLICK HERE to enjoy!

juvenile queen conch west coast florida

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Is There A Fossil Dentist In The House?

Posted by on Oct 6, 2011 in Manasota Key, Puffer fish mouth plate, Shark's Teeth, Stingray Mouth Plate | 13 comments

Stingray mouth plates

Stingray Mouth Plates

Shelling sistah Susan S. took a road trip with her husband to Manasota Key to do some SHARK’S TEETHing at Blind Pass Park in Englewood, Florida. I couldn’t wait to see what she brought back to Sanibel. The first thing she told me “We found 250 SHARK’S TEETH!” then added “… and a guy on the beach told me these were a couple of STINGRAY MOUTH PLATES”.

stingray mouth plate photo

Well, I guess they are. They are only about a half inch long and you can tell what they are by the little grooves. Doesn’t it boggle the mind how someone figured out what these little pieces are when they are mixed in with sand, pebbles and shell crush? They can be up to 2 million years old!

This is Susan with a hand full of SHARK’S TEETH…

Susan sharks teeth in palm

Look at all the SHARK’S TEETH spread out. It’s so much more obvious that these are fossil teeth… instead of figuring out a fossil mouth plate.

sharks teeth

This tooth was about 2 1/2 inches long and broken in half. This came from a big sucker…

large brown sharks tooth

Okay, now we have seen a STINGRAY MOUTH PLATE, lots of SHARK’S TEETH and remember Carla found a PUFFERFISH MOUTHPLATE when I shelled with her in Bonita…

Pufferfish Mouth plate fossil

 These poor creatures needed a dentist! They lost so many mouth parts and they’re washing up all along the Gulf Coast! ;)

3 sharks teeth

 It’s always fun to learn about other types of beach bling that washes up on the shore and always fun to hang out with someone who shares the same love for it. Thanks Susan and the rest of my shelling family out there! Who else could get excited about a STINGRAY MOUTH PLATE?

pam susan sanibel



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