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

Learning about Seashells at the 2016 Sanibel Shell Festival

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in 79th Sanibel Shell Festival 2016, Cockle, Eleuthera Shells, False Shark Eye, Flat Zigzag Scallop, Florida Prickly Cockle, Freak Shells, Glass Sponge, Moon Snail, Sanibel, Sanibel Shell Fair and Show, Scallop, Shark's Eye, Shell Shows, Sponge, Triton, ZigZag Scallop Right Valve | 4 comments

Eleuthra seashells October 2015 -1

The shell world is a fascinating adventure to learn about the lives of MOLLUSKS and the people who collect their shells on the beaches across the planet. Because I am one of those people obsessed with living my life in the world of shells, I love to hang out with people who love to share their knowledge about them too. The Sanibel Shell Festival is a great place to do that.

I’m thrilled Sunnye (TX) shared her colorful shell collection she found beachcombing in Eleuthera, Bahamas (top photo).

Sunnye Dinger Eleuthra seashell display Sanibel Shell festival-1

Her sister Lisa (TX) had some awesome displays too for which they both won awards.

lisa fitzgerald sanibel shell festival exhibitor 2016-1


Smooth Tellin shell Laciolina laevigata Eleuthera BahamsSmooth Tellin shell Laciolina laevigata Eleuthera Bahams

But I looooved this cool display Lisa did showing the difference between the SHARKS EYE and the FALSE SHARKS EYE. It explains and shows the difference in detail (for more info check out my post Sanibel Shark Week… Featuring The Shark Eye Shell).

difference between shark eye shell false sanibel shell festival exhibit-1

And then there’s Stef! I’m so happy for her- she won a blue ribbon for her double FLAT SCALLOP she found by Sanibel’s Island Inn.

Stefanie Wolf Sanibel Shell Museum marine biologist.jpg

Wait… did you miss what I said? Okay, lemme slow down… she found both sides of her FLAT ZIGZAG SCALLOP still hinged together. Exactly like she displayed it… on Sanibel… and with amazing color. Wow! Years ago, I was thrilled when Clark found just the other half of a FLAT (the right valve) since it’s rare to find them here (CLICK HERE to see what the other side looks like) … and she found both perfect valves still together. Shellzam! Congrats Stefanie!

Ziczac Zig zag scallop both valves shell festival blue ribbon-1

There were lots of displays showing ALBINO shells this year but this one by Ken and Joyce Matthys was really very cool. Here they shows tons of ALBINO FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES they’ve found through the years…

Albino shells prickle cockle

In the next case they show FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES which are ALBINISTIC. They explain… “Some shells lack their normal color, but they are not pure white. Instead they may be pale yellow, cream-colored, or have other hints of color. These are referred to as being albinistic”. Hmmm Haven’t you seen some like this? I have and now we’ve learned a name for this color form… ALBINISTIC.

Albinistic shells lack normal color

Anne Joffe’s seashell emergency room display was hilarious and voted best for People’s Choice award. Freak and damaged shells that repaired themselves to form in odd shapes were propped in mini doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and surgery rooms with bandages, crutches and doctors notes.

ann joffe freak shell exhibit sanibel festival-1

Check out this PALLID CARRIER SHELL with an attached GLASS SPONGE (from the Philippines) by exhibitor Robert Linn. Wildly beautiful.

Pallid carrier shell with glass sponge Sanibel festival

Last week I posted about the artistic side of the show with SAILORS VALENTINES, shell frames and all sorts of shell art and craft but when you look at some of these shells like these ATLANTIC TRITONS exhibited by Holly Nordyke, you realize you are looking at the most perfect work of art ever made. Stunning.
atlantic triton shell festival Holly Nordyke exhibit

Hope to see you next year at the 80th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival!


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2015 78th Sanibel Shell Festival

Posted by on Mar 7, 2015 in 78th Sanibel Shell Festival 2015, Freak Shells, Junonia, Sailor's Valentine, Sanibel Shell Fair and Show, Shell Art | 21 comments

junonia shell at Sanibel shell festival show 2015

If you found a perfect JUNONIA on the beach the second morning of vacation on Sanibel, would you let it out of your site for the rest of your trip? Not Tim from Ohio! He told me about his treasure find after I met him while at the Sanibel Shell Festival and was able to show it to me since he had it stashed in his pocket. He said he couldn’t bear to part with it yet. LOL

Junonia at shell show

That started off my day at the Shell Festival off with a smile but after seeing beautiful works of art like these, it was hard not to keep that smile going.

seashell flower box

Gorgeous pieces!

Seashell flower bouquet Sanibel Shell Festival

I loved this miniature seashell doll house shell shop.

miniature shell shop doll house Sanibel Shell Festival 2015

Of course its always breathtaking to see the Sailors Valentines.

Rhyne Saliors valentine Sanibel Shell Festival Show 2015

rams horn sailors valentine

seashell sailor valentine sanibel shell festival 2015

My favorite shell exhibit of the entire show was in the “Freak” category. It’s a shell with 2 apertures. Yes, I said TWO openings … its like this shell is a Siamese Twin.  I was stunned and amazed and I still am. It was so hard to get a good photo to really show both openings but you can see on the far left there is an opening with an operculum and then you can see the more obvious lip and opening. Wow! Can you imagine? So cool.

2 aperture freak shell

I had the best time browsing the exhibits and meeting other shellers like Cheryl and Pam (Brett Bailey’s sister) who showed me a very cool juvie MILK CONCH they found at the Sanibel Lighthouse area. But…. Pam didn’t have her shell in her pocket like Tim did (heehee), the shell was on her phone. “Ring. Ring. Ring… Hold on, I need to get my Shellaphone….. Shello?” hahaha

cheryl pam brett bailey's sister

The festival is like dialing a shellafriend….  Shellekelle, me and Christine Florida shell girl had a great time hanging out and catching up. They are such cutie shellooties!

Shelly Pam Rambo Christine Sanibel Shell Fair Festival

It was a great weekend…

78th Sanibel Shell Show Festival Fair 2015

But now its back to the beach tomorrow for some real shelling time and our iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa with Captiva Cruises. So excited because we had some good winds yesterday to hopefully have thrown some treasures up on the island for us. Hope to see you there!

pam rambo shelling trips


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Shellectric Seashells

Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Bittersweet Clam, Cabrit's Murex, Flat Zigzag Scallop, Freak Shells, Giant Bittersweet, Murex, Rough scallop, Scallop, Seashells | 25 comments

seashells found on Captiva Island Florida

It doesn’t get any better than seeing a huge pile of shells wash up on the beach within one day. I was shellucky enough to see it happen at Blind Pass Captiva and to get the video of it I showed you on my last post. It was Shellectric!

shells pile up southwest florida

Talk about “shellucky” – local sheller Susan from Pine Island found a CABRITS MUREX!

Susan from Pine Island FL shells Captiva


Captiva Cabrits Murex

These are just a few other fab shells she found as well…

Shells found on Captiva Island in February

Lolly was there with her homemade shell belt collecting all sorts of goodies.

Lolly with shells and shelling belt

She found all sorts of shells like HORSE CONCHS, WHELKS, MUREXES and FLAT ZIG ZAGS and GIANT BITTERSWEETS…

flat zig zag scallop found on Captiva

Large giant bittersweet shell

After seeing my “CANDY” (my little HORSIES in the first photo) and Lolly’s as well, an orange HORSE CONCH is all Patti from MN was wishing to find. Moments later… voila! Patti whooped it up when she found her own sweet “CANDY”. Yay!

Patti from MN visits Captiva shells

Babs from St Augustine was there to see all the shellnanagans and to find her own treasures.

Babs St Augustine visits Captiva shells

Its always fun to see what makes different people happy when they find something unusual. I was thrilled when Babs showed me this awesome ROUGH SCALLOP that had obviously been damaged in its lifetime but survived the predatory incident (IMHO- I’m thinking that’s prob what happened).

freak rough scallop shell repaired from damage

See? At one time, this mollusk knew it had more life to live and repaired its damage to see more days. I love those type shells! This even looks like it tried to manage the shape of a heart.

freak predatory attack mollusk survival

This shell pile event doesn’t happen every day so when I’m there to witness it, I try to breathe it all in and enjoy every single moment.

orange rough scallop shell on the beach

I didn’t make it back yesterday so I have no idea if it’s all still there. Let me know if you found any treasures at Blind Pass over the weekend.

beautiful seashells on shells

Join me on a Shelling Adventure! CLICK HERE for more info.

pam rambo shelling trips

PS- I was at Gulfside City Park Beach over the weekend and its still loaded with shells and bling too. :)

Oh and I hope to see y’all at the 2015 78th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival at the Sanibel Community House this weekend March 5,6, and 7!2015 78th Sanibel Shell Festival

UPDATE 3-3-15: I stopped by Blind Pass Captiva …. the shell pile is completely picked over and filled with sand. Amazing. The top picture had new shells in this post washing in and the lower picture was 3 days later.  The power of Mother Nature…

Blind Pass beach difference in 3 days


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Finding Seashells In Southwest Florida From Fort Myers Beach to Captiva

Posted by on Aug 17, 2013 in Alphabet Cone, Fort Myers Beach, Freak Shells, Junonia | 9 comments

seashells fort myers beach debbie

My friend Debbie who lives on Fort Myers Beach sent me this photo of her shell finds near Bowditch Beach on the south end of the island. There are so many things that caught my eye in the photo above (like that row of ALPHIES!)… but also that shell on the bottom middle that looks a little freakish. OMG I think it’s the coolest FREAK FIGHTING CONCH I’ve ever seen! I will get a close up look at it soon so I will let you know exactly what it is soon.

debbie seashells ft myers beach

But while she was collecting all of her awesome shells, she met a young gal who was collecting shells but didn’t know what any of them were. She put out her hands to ask Debbie what she had… What??? Never mind the ALPHABET CONES… She found a JUNONIA!!!

ft myers beach shells

Meanwhile, I was at Blind Pass Captiva watching the cutest family having the best time collecting shells. Eli didn’t have a big enough bucket to hold all of the shells he wanted to keep. His mom starting putting some of the shells back on the beach and said “Only put your favorite shell in the bucket so we can take them home with us”. He cocked his head and looked at her with the sweetest voice and said “Don’t put them back! They’re all my favorites!”

boy with seashell bucket captiva

Here’s Eli with his shelling friends and family who traveled together to Captiva from Connecticut… Alisha, Remy, Aidan and Skylar.

alisha remy aidan skylar eli shelling captiva florida

I was majorly bummed on Thursday. Mother Nature did not cooperate with our iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa and she sent a storm with rain and thunder at the time of our shelling adventure. Grrrrr. But instead of crying about the canceled boat, lots of us went to Blind Pass Captiva like Kaisa, Kan and Kaika from Tokyo!

kaisa kan kaika visit sanibel from tokyo

Sherry and Gracie from St Johns, FL headed straight to Blind Pass from the cancelled cruise and had practically filled their shell bag by the time I got there. Sherry said “The shells aren’t all perfect but since we make shell frames and other crafts with them, they don’t have to be whole”. My kinda gals!

sherry gracie st johns florida visit sanibel shells

Leslie S posted this picture on iLoveShelling facebook page and wrote “A successful day of shelling at Blind Pass–Look, there’s a nice Alphabet cone and a broken piece of the elusive Junonia!”

Leslie S shells Blind Pass captiva

Dawn K also posted this next photo and wrote “Three Alpha cones in one hour!!! HAPPINESS!! It was about 1/2 mile south east of Island Inn.”

Dawn K alphabet cones one hour island innDawn K alphabet cones one hour island inn

If I’m not mistaken, most of these shells were found in the water. Although the water isn’t that pretty aqua blue right now because of the releases of Lake Okeechobee due to so much rain, there are obviously still shells out there by seeing these photos. Shellers are wonderfully persistent!

Although we were rained out on this week’s cruise, we also have another one scheduled this month on Wednesday August 28th and more though out the year so join us! We also had 2 cancelations for Shellabaloo 3 so now there are 2 spots available! I know it’s last minute, but JOIN US August 26th through 30th for a week of a shellacious shellathon. CLICK HERE for details.

seashell shelling adventures pam

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Southwest Florida Uncommon Shells

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Alphabet Cone, Cone, Freak Shells, Plastered Wentletrap, Uncategorized | 18 comments

uncommon seashells

We learned about Donnie The Shellinator (it tickles me every time I write that- heehee) and his PLASTERED WENTLETRAP on my last post, but I didn’t have time to mention the other shells he and Alyssa took to show the folks at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum…. FREAKS!

irregular shells

I know your eyes went right to the crooked LIGHTNING WHELK, didn’t it? I know, I love a good FREAK shell too but they didn’t find these last week, they collected these in the last year but since we got to see the real experts it was the perfect time to show the coolness.  It looks like this WHELK was involved in some sort of trauma that clipped his “tail” (siphonal canal) but he was strong enough to rebuild his shell any way he could… and this time it was sideways.

freak lightning whelk

On the left of the photo is a FREAK KNOBLESS FIGHTING CONCH. But “knobless” isn’t the only thing that is freaky about it. The aperture is so narrow with an unusual shape and it looks like the shoulder grew back up on the spire of the shell too.

fighting conch freak

Believe it or not, we don’t find many juvenile ALPHABET CONES on our beaches so Donnie donated his to Smokey of the Shell Museum who wants to complete a growth display. Nice, huh? Maybe it be added to a display like this?

alphabet cone conus spurius

It was such a pleasure to listen to the shell experts tell us what they look for to correctly identify different seashells and how to figure out what makes them FREAKS. I caught a small part of Smokey Payson on video explaining what could have happened to this FREAK LIGHTING WHELK to make his tail grow sideways. Sorry this clip is so fuzzy and unsteady… really, it’s not a great video but I really think you’ll like to hear Smokey’s take on these FREAKS.

Don’t forget to book your reservations to join us on an iLoveShelling ShellingAdventure!

For info, click on the next image…

iLoveShelling ShellingAdventures

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Mystique Of A Freak

Posted by on Feb 26, 2012 in Freak Shells, King's Crown, Lightning Whelk, Pear Whelk | 34 comments

freak lightning whelk curly tail

Ahhhhh Freak Out! Le Freak. C’est Chic. Freak Out! … Remember that song? Wouldn’t you freak if you found this FREAK LIGHTNING WHELK?

freak lightning whelk

Martine (from my last post) introduced me to her Periwinkle Park neighbors Ron and Lucienne because they too love to shell. As soon as I saw their picnic table loaded with shells, I spotted this LIGHTNING WHELK. I freaked out when I saw the curly tail on this guy!

freak lightning whelk seashell

What’s a FREAK shell? As I understand it, it’s a shell with an abnormal structure, albinism, dwarf, giant or some sort of growth defect or maybe even a strange color pattern. This is Lucienne proudly displaying her FREAK WHELK…

Lucienne Sanibel freak shell

After I calmed down about the curly tailed freak, I spotted something else. Another freakin’ FREAK?

freak lightning pear whelk seashell aperture

Looks like a PEAR WHELK, right? I know, but I don’t think it is (although I could be wrong). I guess it could be a left handed PEAR WHELK with a strange apex but I what ever it is, it’s a FREAK! In my humble opinion, I think it’s a LIGHTNING WHELK that is a “Knobless Wonder” in a WHELK version instead of a HORSE CONCH. Look! It doesn’t have the spines that LIGHTNING WHELKS normally have. Believe it or not, they had two of these they found the same day.

freak lightning pear whelk

Lucienne’s husband Ron was especially proud of this huge, beautiful KING’S CROWN he found as well. Wow! gorgeous…

Ron large kings crown sanibel

 Even this one looks like it is a little unusual (not to mention the size of it!) because of a second row of spines…

Kings crown apex

I wouldn’t consider this one to be a FREAK but this LIGHTNING WHELK had a slight bend to the base (or what I like to call the “tail”). And look at the color on this baby- fabulous!

lightning whelk shell bend

 Look at all these beauties!

jar of seashells lucienne ron

 I asked Ron and Lucienne where they find their best shells. They told me they love to shell in the bays around Sanibel in their homemade kayaks. Yes, you heard that right. They made both of these beautiful kayaks!

hand made kayaks

Thank you for sharing your treasures, Ron and Lucienne. I had an incredible time drooling over your incredible shell collection… especially those FREAKS! I’m still freaked! It’s hard to say what causes mollusks to have abnormal growth patterns like “Curly Tail” but there could be many reasons including lack of food, healing after damage by predators, water quality (red tide maybe!) or who knows…. it could be just in the DNA. Whatever it is, i LOVE FREAK SHELLS!

freak lightning whelk shell on kayak

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