As we celebrate new days watching the sun rise over the horizon at low tide in the new year on Sanibel…
We also shellebrate the gifts of the sea…
We also celebrate the gift of witnessing living creatures exposing themselves for just a short time as the water recedes.
With most animals, we are easily able to see if they are alive, healthy and breathing but with creatures of the sea that have washed ashore, it’s a little bit more difficult. We (shellers) take the time to to look for signs of life with respect. As soon as I saw this shell was occupied by noticing the body and OPERCULUM of the “snail” still intact, I gently placed it back in the water covered with sand making sure the opening faced down into to sand.
Even for some shellers, it’s hard to tell if a SAND DOLLAR is dead or alive so the best thing to do first is… slow down. Take a few minutes to look for any cilia which looks like fur or looks a little fuzzy in the edges. Any time a SAND DOLLAR is this color, assume that it is still alive… gently place it back in the water.
If a STARFISH is any where near the water or if the sand is still damp where you found it, always assume it is still alive too and let it be.
Shellers are very fortunate to have seen the miracles of Mother Nature as we comb the shorelines to discover the magic of the sea. We learn new lessons every day we walk the water’s edge. For most beach combers, we know the signs of life in sea creatures but inexperienced visitors may be overwhelmed with the beauty that surrounds them and not know to take the time to look for signs of life. Since I grew up on the water, I always assumed other folks knew shells, SAND DOLLARS and STARFISH live their lives close to shore but now I’ve learned that most people don’t know much about life in the ocean or gulf. First time visitors to the beach may have heard how amazing shell collecting is and unintentionally collect a live animal without knowing it. It’s an amazing experience to see the compassion on a new sheller’s face after learning they have collected a live animal then race it to the water where they found it to save its life. Most just don’t know… and are thankful to learn and appreciate the living ocean even more.
There have been so many live critters exposed during the morning’s low tide the last few days so with many newbies on the beaches, I’m sure I’ll get to see the amazement on someone’s face that just learned for the first time that shells, sand dollars and starfish are living beings and are still actually alive.
Come with me on a shelling trip! For upcoming dates … CLICK HERE
I always have one of those laid back, “No Problem, Mon” attitudes when I comb the beach during a nice low tide on warm summer evenings on Sanibel Island. It’s the perfect weekend.
There was no shelling frenzy. No racing from beach to beach trying to find a huge shell pile. No disappointment at not finding an ALPHABET CONE… or no deflated feeling of not finding the SANIBEL SIX. It was pure pleasure to stroll the Lighthouse Beach to discover little treasures like this along the way…
Theodore from Michigan felt the same way. He had a huge beach to explore and a handful of minis already in his pocket. Happy (and adorable).
I was already feeling lucky so when I found this CRUCIFIX SHELL, I snapped a photo and left it where I found it so someone else could find the lucky idol.
We also went to Gulfside City Park in the evening this weekend where Clark found these…
I met cuties Sharon and Matt from Connecticut who were feeling the shelling love too.
I also met a Missouri family new to shelling and you can see the happiness on their faces. Here’s Hannah, Danielle, Emily, Tyler, Dave, Danielle and Jeff. Talk about cuties!
There were lots of live OLIVES making trails in the sand but every once in a while, we’d see an empty, glossy gift of goodness right at our feet.
Laid back warm and fuzzies.
Share the laid back feeling with me and enjoy a little unhurried CYBERSHELLING with me. Take your time and I bet you’ll feel a little more laid back with a few warm and fuzzes for your day too.
Happy shelling and enjoy your week!
There are days in the summer when all I need is an evening walk on the beach to turn a hot, hectic day into a calm, relaxing oasis.
Especially if I have my best friend with me. Even if Clark (yes, he’s my husband too- heehee) and I walk separate ways on the beach to cover more ground, it’s always fun to see what the other one collects when we finally meet back up.
We both went for the minis at Gulfside City Park but I had to keep one large FIGHTING CONCH because of the fabulous rich color and Clark kept a “larger” one too- a GAUDY NATICA. I guess so! Is there anybody who can pass up a GAUDY NATICA if you see one? I think not.
We both found lots of sweet, itty bitty LETTERED OLIVE shells but most of the large adult LETTERED OLIVES were alive and scooting over all the other empty CLAM shells…
We both saw several large live LIGTHNING WHELKS as well. That’s what is so fascinating about shelling during low tide… you get to experience seeing beautiful living creatures in their natural habitat. I actually walked this guy into the Gulf Of Mexico just a bit just to get him covered with water again.
Clark said he was also busy saving several SEA HARES that washed up on the shore. Me too! This one looked like a gooey mess lying in some SEA WEED on the beach. I gently picked “him” up then submerged him into the calm water then let him go when he started coming to life. This is the same way Bryce and I saved a SEA HARE on the Sight Sea-R cruise last month but I didn’t get a photo, remember?
There is something mesmerizing about watching them swim.
Talk about calm, relaxing and mesmerizing…
Throughout the weekend we will have nice low tides in the evenings so if you want a retreat to the beach, I would suggest heading out to the closest SW Florida beach in the early evening (hopefully we can dodge the summer rain storms!) to talk a slow walk to experience this natural paradise at its best.
Join me on our next iLoveShelling adventure on Sight Sea-R Cruises Wednesday- July 16, 2014 to our newest shelling destination! Call 239-765-7272 or CLICK HERE and tell them you want to join the iLoveShelling cruise! UPDATE: July 16th is now SOLD OUT! Wow!
PS- I tool this video of a SEA HARE about 4 years ago… seriously, I can’t believe this was FOUR years go but I figured it would be fun to show again…
During the low tide evenings this past week, we didn’t find gobs of shells on Sanibel or Captiva but we found the best empty beauties in the Blind Pass channel in between Sanibel and Captiva. With the full moon causing extreme tides, the water rushes through the pass so quickly at the lowest tide (ankle deep) I like to just wait for the shells to roll by my feet by near the jetty rocks. If you want to see a video from last year that shows how they roll by CLICK HERE
We also hit the low tide at the Lighthouse Beach…
This was my favorite night last week because I met Michayla from Pensacola with lots of beautiful shells in her shell bag…
I also met Paige and her mom Nikkie from Kentucky. It’s always so much fun to meet new friends that love shelling as much as I do!
And lookie who else was shelling at Lighthouse Beach… our good friends Susan and Lee from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They definitely love shelling as much as Clark and I do.
It’s always so much fun to see the live creatures at ow tide like FIGHTING CONCHS…
I’m not absolutely positive, but I believe that this is a SEA HARE EGG STRING. Seriously, it was this color… almost turquoise!
We are very used to seeing SEA PORK at low tide but this SEA LIVER looks a little different because it’s flatter and a little slimier. They are dark purple when still alive then turn whitish when they die so I’m assuming part of this colony on the right has already died off and the left side is still hanging on. Of course after I took this photo, I returned this colonial tunicate to the tidal pool where I found it.
So while we were shelling Lighthouse and Blind Pass… Gary, Jane, Anna, Claire and Ella from Arkansas were shelling near Tarpon Beach when they hit a VERY sweet honey hole. Gary said ” Just at the shelf line we found a PEN SHELL bed. After about 2 hours of digging we had 8 large horse conchs – our best shell hunt ever!” I’m sure this will be a day in their lives they will never ever forget. Shellzam!
I love summer evenings walking the beach when the sun doesn’t set until way after 8pm then the full moon rises to brighten the sky and pull at the sea.
If the Sanibel SEA LIFE could have talked last evening at low tide, they probably would have been chatting it up about how lovely the evening was and how healthy they were feeling…. just like us.
This LINED STARFISH was raisin’ the roof!
The live LETTERED OLIVES were doin’ the locomotion…
The live AUGERS were gettin’ jiggy with it…
This live BABY’S EAR was jivin’ and slimin’…
The live FIGHTING CONCHS were putting’ up their dukes…
There were hundreds of HERMIT CRABS running around claiming the best shells for their residences.
We even saw quite a few SHARK’S EYE EGG COLLARS brimming with little tiny eggs…
We even saw lots of ONION SEA ANEMONES flowering in the tidal pools…
Hmmmm….I wonder why they call it an “ONION” SEA ANEMONE … heehee
The colors of the night were amazing! This clump of SEA SPONGE was the most brilliant color purple…
A little higher on the beach, I saw that Leah from Georgia found a honey hole of wonderful minis which included lots of WENTLETRAPS.
Leah and her husband Matt were vacationing on Sanibel to celebrate Matt’s 40th birthday.
Finding a few beautiful shells to take home was just icing on the cake. Happy Birthday Matt!
The weather was perfect, the beach was teeming with live creatures and each breath of fresh, salty air made exploring the tidal pools heaven on earth.
I grew up in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my toes in the sand. My whole life has circled around playing on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf Of Mexico so I can’t remember how I learned about tides, currents, sand dunes or how I first learned where to look to find the best shells. I feel like this information was already embedded in my brain the day I was born, so I sometimes assume that other folks that love the beach have this information too. While on our iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa on Saturday, I was asked a perfectly good question from a lovely woman which threw me for a loop…. “Can you explain Shell Lines?”. “Well… they are lines of shells” I said. I often write about wrack lines, shell lines, the surf line and so on because I assume everybody knows what I’m talking about. She said “I was born and raised in land locked U.S. so I’m really not sure exactly where to look”. This was an “Aha Moment” for me. Ohhhhhh- I’ve never really explained what a wrack line is and how it forms, have I. Since my mind went into a sort of panic, I didn’t even get her name but I wish I could thank her for bringing that to my attention!
So I went to Gulfside City Park this morning at low tide to try to explain the many different ways you can find shells on each different part of the beach. I combed each area of the beach to show how many shell lines, wrack lines and tidal pools can be productive for shelling.
Instead of just taking photos, I shot a video to explain each area and to show what types of shells I found in each area. I hope it makes a little more sense to you and understand how I can get caught up with finding minis and why I love my BEACH BLING so much. It’s a little long, so grab a drink and get relaxed and enjoy the ultimate CYBERSHELLING with me… Oh and PS- You’ll find a few of the shells I found in this video displayed in the first photo on this post. I lost a few in the shuffle like that little tiny sweet “AUGER”.
And PS again- that little shell I found under the seaweed and got so excited about isn’t called a PAINTED PERIWINKLE (oops!)… its called a LINED TREE SNAIL.