While shelling at Blind Pass Sanibel, I took a little break to the high dry beach sand to drink some water and reapply some sunscreen. Most of you are the same way I am- anywhere on the beach I still can’t help but look for shells. So that’s what I did. Up on the dry sand away from the water… on the part of the beach most people stomp over on their way to the water’s edge… scanned the sand and look what I found.
I found quite a few SHIVA SHELLS (CHESTNUT TURBAN OPERCULUM). Im rich! I found MERMAID MONEY! (or MERMAID TEARS)
They were sitting in the sand just like this…
When I started getting excited to find them, I realized that I was missing some since they were upside down… errr… I call it “upside down” since the swirly part wasn’t showing like this…
Omigosh, then I found a SPECKELED TELLIN…
During my short rehydrating break, I found the SHIVAS, the TELLIN, BORING TURRETS, a bright orange FLY SPECK CERITH, MAUVE MOUTH DRILL and SOUTHERN FLATCOILS.
We find SOUTHERN FLATCOILS at Cayo Costa just about every trip in the high wrack lines. They are LAND SNAILS that get washed up on the beach with the sea weeds so you might find them in the same areas you find might find ROSY WOLF SNAILS and SEA PEARLS.
I also found some CHESTNUT TURBANS as well.
Along with finding DARK CERITHS, ROUGH SCALLOPS and APPLE MUREXES, all of these smaller surprise shells up on the high dry beach made my day that much more interesting. Love that stuff!
It’s always a lucky day just to have the time to walk the beach… but it’s a very lucky day if you find a couple of WENTLEPTRAP shells.
Paula brought down some Luck O’ the Irish from Boston to find a few O’wentles near the Sanibel lighthouse and pier – along with a few other sweet minis.
Did someone have to kiss the Blarney Stone to find a whole handful of O’wentles like this?
We can ask Deenie since this handful was hers. Wait a minute. Deenie is from Massachusetts too. Hmmmmm….
I danced a little jig to find a few of my own plus I found a LINED TREE SNAIL, a violet tinted juvie FIGHTING CONCH and a double ALTERNATE TELLIN to name a few.
While we were finding our Pots of O’Wentle Gold, I was green with envy to know that Bruce from Chicago found a JUNONIA at Blind Pass Sanibel a few days ago.
Happy Shell Paddy’s Day!
photo by Cari Wells
PS… I believe the WENTLETRAP at the top of Deenie’s hand is a BLADED WENTLETRAP along with a few others but most of the others are ANGULATE. Deenie was very excited that a few days ago she found her first BROWN BANDED WENTETRAP so we talked about that top one being different as well. I realized that I never added the BLADED to my lineup of WENTLETRAPS on my post How To Find Wentletrap Shellsso I’ll update that soon so we can see the differences.
Can you believe all of these gorgeous shells were found in SouthWest Florida? Yep! I found all of these APPLE SNAILS (Pomacea insularum) at Harns Marsh Preservein Lehigh Acres, Florida about an hour from Sanibel. For years, I’ve been wanting to go check this place out ever since I met Kathy from Colorado who showed me one of her APPLESNAILS I wrote about in my post “Finally, A Recipe For Finding A Junonia“.
I finally made it to the preserve and was thrilled to find my first one… they are huge!
Just trying to find Harns Marsh Preserve was quite an adventure since there are no road signs- I guess because it’s not a city or state park. So that started the whole journey as quite a treasure hunt in itself. Then once we found it…. On to hunt for APPLE SNAILS! Soul Sister Susan donned her hiking boots, satchel and bug spray while I armed myself with old tennis shoes, long pants and a very strong walking stick. We didn’t know what to expect to find but knew we were going to be walking near marshy water which means (in Florida) there could be lots of bugs, red ants and more importantly… alligators. Errrr… That wasn’t really a “walking stick” … I would be more inclined to call it my “harpoon” … or should I say “Shellpoon”. Ha! I am a nervous wreck being anywhere near the edge of any inland pond so I just feel a weeee bit more safe with some sort of weapon. It’s better to be safe, right?
We had to park our car at the entrance and walk about a quarter mile until we reached some trees by the water…
Empty APPLE SNAIL shells were lined up all along these trees. SS Susan turned that Sanibel Stoop right into the Snail Stoop.
These APPLE SNAILS are actually an invasive land snail that are not native to Florida and they have threatened native species. They grow and breed very quickly so maybe that’s why we saw so many empty shells laying in the tall grasses just like this….
Their were OPERCULUMS were laying right along the same path. This empty shell had it’s OPERCULUM laying right beside this one.
We got back to the car after a couple of hours and SS Susan dumped her shells out of her bag. OMG Look how many shells! LOL
So cool, right? Some of them may look like they were already cleaned but trust me… cleaning these shells was a grungy job.
I soaked mine for two days in a bucket of fresh water then emptied that nasty water to refill the bucket and shells with a round of fresh water and 1/8 bleach to soak for a couple of hours. You have to be very careful though. Susan said she had picked up some shells that looked like they had spider webs on them and while she was started cleaning them, she saw a big spider in the bucket. Yikes! I didn’t see any siders in mine so I rinsed them all, shot the aperture of the shell with the outside hose nozzle then scrubbed each one with a vegetable brush. I didn’t even have time to put mineral oil on them but I don’t think I they need it. They were naturally this glossy and colorful!
Each one has a different color pattern. So lovely.
This was the largest one and the smallest one I found for the day.
Here are a few of the OPERCULUMS I picked up…
We saw their pink egg clusters on the tree trucks and marsh reeds…
…And even laying in the grasses.
This preserve is really just a water retention area that has become a birder’s paradise since the area provides perfect conditions for so many different species of birds. The APPLE SNAIL is the favorite meal for the KITE SNAIL so you have a better chance of spotting this rarely seen bird at Harns Marsh Preserve … although we didn’t see one. But I did spot this LITTLE BLUE HERON which is the first time I’ve ever gotten to photograph this bird…
We also saw two SANDHILL CRANES!
SS Susan is a GEOCACHER so found a geocache while we were there too.
After signing her geocache booklet, she left one of her APPLE SNAILS in the box as a little trinket.
We brought home such amazing ISLAND APPLE SNAIL souvenirs to remember such a fabulous day exploring a new area, shelling, bird watching and geocaching and learning all while having so much fun spending the day with my friend Susan. Lovely!
Oh but wait… this is weird. Ironically, Clark’s business partner Joe Ginsberg was walking his dog last week in Fort Myers when our local CBS news affiliate interviewed him about these same ISLAND APPLE SNAIL EGGS. They told Joe the eggs are extremely toxic if they are eaten by pets and kids so they wanted to warn folks of what the eggs look like to keep a distance from them. I had no idea that these snails had invaded neighborhoods in Fort Myers … or that Joe was on TV. After Clark told Joe about the APPLE SHELLS I found, Joe told him about the interview. WHOA! Take a look for yourself about these toxic pink egg clusters (and to meet Joe)… CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK. And for more info on Harns Marsh Preserve CLICK HERE.
Nothing starts the holiday season better than finding a positively perfect pumpkin ROUGH SCALLOP. Ooooh… I loooove to find ROUGH SCALLOPS with the “wings” still in tact and especially in a solid color…like pumpkin.
The pumpkin SCALLOP wasn’t the only thing to make the day positively perfect, I saw my friends “The Carolina Girls” on the beach at Island Inn. Remember these cutie pies? They were part of the first Shellabaloo at the Island Inn last January. We had so much fun at the Shellabaloo, they wanted to come back! Here are the nicest (and craziest!) gals you’ll ever want to meet- Helen, Carol, Jackie, Karen and Kathy…
Karen found this awesome ALPHABET CONE… to go with the other 2 she found as well. Wow!
The Carolina Girls brought a newbie sheller (Carol) with them this time and it seems she caught on to this shelling thing pretty quickly. They told her what to look for and she quickly pulled out an ALPHABET CONE and said “is this a good one?” Ha! They couldn’t believe it! Carol went right out and bought a shadowbox to frame for her newly found Sanibel shell. Here’s Carol with her trophy and Karen with her own ALPHABET CONE (in addition to the others!) and a KINGS CROWN.
Carol also found these beautiful LINED TREE SNAILS (land snails) near the pathway to the beach at Island Inn. I don’t see these very often- they are so pretty!
I saw this BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER running along the shoreline. Errrrr… Hey buddy, did you lose your “black belly”? LOL I found out that adult non-breeding BLACK- BELLIED PLOVERS don’t have a back belly. hmmmm Wouldn’t have been nicer (and more inclusive) if they had name them the “BLACK-BEAKED PLOVER” or something like that? Oh well, you are what you are I guess.
It was a positively perfect day in paradise finding a pumpkin SCALLOP and hanging with the nicest peeps on the planet- The Carolina Girls.
My earliest childhood memory of shelling is when I would get so excited to find COQUINAS. They look just like butterflies! Maybe that’s why I still love them so much now… but then, another thought would be… maybe because they are just so darn cute! The Sanibel Lighthouse Beach was loaded with COQUINAS yesterday evening. Just like being a kid again, I got really excited to find so many variations that look like they have had stripes painted on them. For me, it’s unusual to find this many striped ones all together. While I was picking up these cuties, I also found a few other minis like this KEYHOLE LIMPET…
These Wisconsin visitors were having a great time finding the minis and COQUINAS too…
While we were busy admiring the COQUINAS, these brand-new Fort Myers residents (Ron and Kelli!) found this huge awesome LIGHTNING WHELK…
Look at the color of the spire on this beautiful shell and this one looks like it has painted stripes too. Nature’s miracle and a spectacsheller find!
This mom and daughter shelling team from Orlando were loving the minis and the baby LIGHTNING WHELKS they found in the EGG CHAINS…
Right before the sun went down, I met Kim, Olivia and Zach….
Kim said she saw my post about the brown MACULATED BABY’S EARS last week from Cayo Costa, then found two of them! She said she would have had no idea what it was unless she hadn’t just read about it and saw the pics here. I love that! Here is the one she found last night near the fishing pier. This would have been so easy to mistake it for a SLIPPER SHELL while laying in the sand or mixed in with other shells, right? Wow! Great find!
But hold on, she also found this pretty little shell. I didn’t know what it was until my friend H.L. Schroeder (Lori -heehee- who knows a lot about land snails) identified is as a LINED TREE SNAIL.
It looks like an artist took a brush to a white snail shell and painted the lines on this one too. Just gorgeous. I know it’s rare to find one on the beach since this may be the first one I’ve seen in person but since it’s a land snail, I dont know if its rare on the whole island. Here’s the aperture side of it.
Okay… I’ve got to confess. Maybe you noticed, I didnt give names to some of the folks I met on the beach last night. I have so much happening in this little brain of mine so I have to take notes on my phone since I’m really bad on remembering names. Well, my phone was on overload and couldnt take any more data. I lost the names of these wonderful folks. Ack! I could tell you all about where they live, what they do, and all about our conversations but … names? Lost. Please, Cute Couple- “Well, not St Paul, MN but it’s so close, that’s where we normally tell people we are from”, and Exuberant Couple “We just moved to Ft Myers! Pam, is this a pretty normal find here? No? Waahhhoooooo!” and Mom “I’m mad at you when you don’t post every day- hahaha” and Daughter “We jump in the Avis car any chance we get to drive to Sanibel”…. y’all forgive me! Here is a CYBERSHELLING picture to make up for it. Click on the next image to blow it up to find all of you own shells!
Hundreds of live FIGHTING CONCHS raised out of the sand at Lighthouse Beach yesterday to take a look around as the tide was going out.
I found one of the FIGHTING CONCHS hanging out in a tidal pool… but wait… I noticed something in the water beside it…
This FLORIDA FIGHTING CONCH was laying EGGS! The eggs are released in a gelatinous egg string then sand adheres to its thick jelly-like sheath.
I tried to get close enough to see how the eggs are released without disturbing this busy gal. If you look closely, you can see them shooting out! It’s that spout perpendicular to the eye. Go Momma! Raise some more shells!
I think this is a FIGHTING CONCH EGG STRING as well…. but why would she lay her eggs without being in the water? I followed the trail from the string to a healthy FIGHTING CONCH about a yard away. Hmmm. Maybe that jelly like sheath protects them when the tide recedes. I dunno, but I hope she raises healthy shells and I sure love to find new things like this!
Speaking of “raising shell”…. We met the Shell Raisers at Blind Pass Sanibel! These 2 brothers, Eric and Chris, have been shelling all their lives and they even witnessed a BANDED TULIP laying eggs in their live shell tank.
Chris found that huge WHELK but put it back in the water since was occupied by a monster HERMIT CRAB. They were vacationing on Sanibel with their family from the east coast of Florida . Here are Chris and Eric with (from left to right) their mom Cheryl, Sarah, Amelia and Ava.
Back at the Sanibel lighthouse, Linda (Pensacola, FL) was busy finding the mini shells…
She found a mega WENTLETRAP along with some other sweet minis…
Her best find was this gorgeous MANGROVE PERIWINKLE…
If you look closely you can see a beautiful purple lip…
Bobby (Houston TX) finally found what he was looking for…WENTLETRAPS!!
I was asked a question on I Love Shelling Facebook page by Diane F about a shell I.D. It was that ROSE WOLF SNAIL again! I told y’allI keep forgetting the name of that shell but now that I can remember the name, I completely forgot to put it on my SEASHELL IDENTIFICATION page. This shell keeps stumping me some how! Thanks Diane for asking about this shell and sending such a beautiful picture of it. I’m going to use photo for my I.D page- Thank you!
Okay, one more thing… I saw the dolphins playing near the pier last night and I just happened to video them racing along the shoreline in front of an unsuspecting family. This is no fancy video…just a little clip of our own little Sanibel Sea World…