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

Cayo Costa Shelling Cruise Finding Seashells By The Seashore

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Albino Shells, Angel Wing, Baby's Ear, Captiva Cruises, Cayo Costa, Cowrie, Deer Cowrie, Egg Casing, False Angel Wing, Horse Conch, Lightning Whelk, Parchment Worms, ShellingAdventures, Speckled Tellin, Whelk | 28 comments

hermit crab  conch watermark

It was a gorgeous sunny day on the iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa yesterday! This beautiful HERMIT CRAB found a nice home inside this CONCH shell for lots of us to ooooh and ahhhh over it then see it go safely back into the water. But Debbie was soooo fortunate to have found this gigantic LIGHTNING WHELK completely empty!

Debbie found large whelk cayo costa

Yowza Debbie! So happy for you! She also found a GAUDY NATICA (aka COLORFUL MOON SHELL) EGG COLLAR and a SHAGGY PARCHMENT WORM TUBE. But that gorgeous WHELK stole the show.

large lightning whelk cayo

Holy mackeral! Super Sheller Clark found an empty LIGHTNING WHELK too. When we got back to the boat, Clark and Debbie showed their big finds of the day…

find whelks cayo florida clark

 It was a day for finding big shells because Erin found another big LIGHTNING WHELK. After letting everybody see this beautiful creature alive and well with the original mollusk still inside, she walked it back into the water to live out its healthy life to breed more WHELKS. Way to go, Erin!

Erin live lightning whelk cayo

Like I always say… Every day the beaches change. One day the shells are piled on the beach and some days you have to work at finding them. I have to admit, we never found a huge pile of shells but this was an awesome group of shellers because they not only found those huge shells, but they found other beautiful shells they were happy with as well…

seashells found cayo costa april

Did you notice in the last picture that little tiny SCALLOP SHELL? Love it!

scallop fingertip iLS


net shells conchs

Aaron from Kansas City was finding the mini shells for his mom…

aaron ks city cayo costa shells

He found BABY’S EARS, FALSE ANGE WINGS and an ALBINO LIGHTNING WHELK. I think that other shell is either and OYSTER or a big KITTENS PAW but I didn’t even look at since I was inspecting the fab ALBINO WHELK.

albino whelk cayo wings ears

I know this is a broken shell, but as soon as I peeked inside Shanna’s shell bucket on the way back to the dock and saw this piece, I woooped it up! She found the lip of a DEER COWRY! DEER COWRIES are very rare in Southwest Florida since they don’t live here. They live further south in the keys so for it to travel this far north… I always think any piece found here is a fun find. Especially the lip.

part of deer cowrie cayo costa

Here is Shanna and her mom Patricia (both from Georgia) with her fave find.. a WORM SHELL :)

shanna GA deer cowrie patricia

I was thrilled to find a SPECKLED TELLIN! This is another shell I don’t normally find on our beaches. Between Clark and I, we only have about 4 that we’ve found around here (SW Florida) so to me, it’s a pretty rare find.

speckled tellin cayo costa florida

This is how I found it so if you see it with the interior side up, you will know to pick it up too. Errrr… Now that I look at it this way, doesn’t it look like Spock lost his ear? Weird. haha

speckled tellin cayo costa

Speaking of ears…There were quite a few people that found BABY’S EARS for the first time ever…

baby ear southwest florida shell

So let me show you a few of these beautiful souls that Clark and I got to spend some time with to exchange stories and treasures…

chrismesa newbie sheller

cayo costa finding seashells

bags of seashells captiva

smitty marcia ga shell cruise

nancy shells cayo costa

george patti erin pam john captiva cruise

I had to get my picture taken with Jeanine and Della from PA. They came geared up with their iLoveShelling tee shirts just like me. Thanks you guys!

jeannine della pam rambo cruise

There are 3 shellers in the next photo too. Jody and Melissa will be having a baby next month so their newest addition will already have shelling experience. Doesn’t she look great? Lucky baby!

jody melissa due may shelling

Thank you Captiva Cruises‘ Captains Keith and Kelly for a perfectly safe and smooth boating morning.

captiva boat captains keith kelly

And thanks so much to these fabulous folks for joining us for this spectasheller day!

iLoveShelling adventure cruise april 2013

Don’t miss this experience! Join us on our next cruise May 19 from 1pm to 4pm. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO


giving seashells

angel wing cayo 4.13

cayo costa shelling

captiva marina dock


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As The Sanibel Sky Terns

Posted by on Sep 27, 2011 in Black Mangrove seed, Blue Crab, Mangrove seed pod, Parchment Worms, Sandwich Tern | 15 comments

The sky Terns Black

The Sanibel sky turned black with rain clouds and turned white SANDWICH TERNS soaring by. The sky was such a beautiful back drop for them.

Terns in the black sky Sanibel

There were ROYAL TERNS and LAUGHING GULLS joining in on the fun too.

Sanibel lighthouse with birds

We didn’t stay on the beach long since that sky looked a little frightful and we weren’t seeing loads of shells other than this cute little LACE MUREX (or lacie), a few WENTLETRAPS and minis.

Lace Murex on Sanibel beach

Up high on the beach was a wide wrack line of what I call “beach bling”. Yes, I made up the phrase! Here’s my definition…. Beach Bling: noun– (beech-bling) 1. anything that washes up on the beach other than seashells. 2. Collectable and/or noncollectable debris washed up on any shore.

Sanibel Beach Bling

Doesn’t “Beach Bling” even make PARCHMENT WORMS sound better?

Parchment worms

More Beach Bling in the wrack line like BLACK MANGROVE SEEDS which are the little split green lima bean looking things in this next photo…

Black Mangrove seeds

…and the RED MANGROVE SEED PODS mixed in…

Parchment worms, red mangrove seed pods, mangrove seeds

This baby BLUE CRAB shell would fall into this category too…

young yellow blue crab

 But still the best thing to watch was the beautiful birds soaring and swirling in the stormy sky. They definitely stole the show

Sanibel stormy sky with gulls

sandwich terns Sanibel lighthouse


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Sea Potato Heart Urchins

Posted by on Dec 17, 2010 in Heart Urchin, Horseshoe Crab, Parchment Worms, Peanut Worm, Potato Urchin, Purple Sea Urchin, Urchin | 22 comments

Circle of Sanibel Beached Palm

Circle of Sanibel Beached Palm

Along with seashells and sealife, palm trees are even washing up on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva.

Beached Palm Circle

Beached Palm Circle

I heard from blog friend Marcy that there were hundreds of SEA BISCUITS washing up on the east end of Sanibel. What? I’ve never seen SEA BISCUITS (they look like fat and puffy SAND DOLLARS) on this coast before, only in the upper Florida Keys. I ran down there and found these….

Potato or Heart Urchins

Potato or Heart Urchins

Tons of HEART URCHINS! This looks like a bunch of potatoes that just spilled out of a sack, right? That’s why they are also called SEA POTATOES. I’ve never seen so many HEART URCHINS washed up like this… or SEA URCHINS.

Sea Urchin piled on beach

Purple Sea Urchin piled on beach

Hundreds of Sea Urchins

Hundreds of Purple Sea Urchins

I took this next picture because there were so many unusual sea critters all together in one place.

Peanut worm, heart urchin, horseshoe crab

Beach critters

Let’s start with that huge STONE CRAB claw that’s laying on a PARCHMENT WORM, then clockwise is a PEANUT WORM (in the middle of the picture), a HEART URCHIN, HORSESHOE CRAB, a couple of SEA SPONGES, a PEN SHELL then the black blob is SEA PORK (not an oil tar ball!!!)

beachcombing best

Sanibel Beachcombing

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Sunset on seashells

Sunset on seashells

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Santa Brought Gifts of the Sea

Posted by on Dec 25, 2009 in Beach Holiday, Christmas, Conch, Fighting Conch, Horse Conch, Lighthouse, Lightning Whelk, Murex, Paper Fig, Parchment Worms, Pen Shell, Sanibel, Whelk | 0 comments

Lighthouse beach on Christmas day

Lighthouse beach on Christmas day

We couldn’t believe that the parking lot at the Lighthouse was so packed today! There were lots of other people celebrating Christmas on the beach with us and they had their bags and buckets overflowing with seashells.

I’ve seen a lot of  seaweed and  algae on the beaches the last couple of days but the Lighthouse has the thickest deposit and is mixed with tons of PARCHMENT WORMS. They look like whitish tubular sausage casings. They may look ugly on the beach to some people but this is the kind of stuff that catches the shells and drags them on the beach too. This is a good time to have a stick, net or Clark’s shelling “backhoe” so you can move some of that stuff around to see what’s underneath. I saw bags of LIGHTENING WHELKS, FIGHTING CONCHS and MUREXES. Clark was finding gorgeous PAPER FIGS which are normally broken by the time they get to the beach since they are so thin and delicate. All of the parchment worms and seaweed protect them a bit so they get to the beach in one piece.

Lisa and Sage (Toronto)

Lisa and Sage (Toronto)

Santa’s elves (love those hats!!!), Lisa and her daughter Sage, have been visiting from Toronto for 3 weeks and said the shelling has been great.  Lisa told me she has been coming to Sanibel every year since she was 5 years old. Her father brought her and now Lisa follows the tradition and brings her daughter. Sage said her best shell was a 10 inch HORSE CONCH that she found last Saturday. They said that last weekend was the best shelling that they’ve seen in years. (…and I was out of town!) They hadn’t found much today since they’ve gotten a little more picky but it’s also a tradition to walk the beach on Christmas day with their adorable Santa hats. Not a bad tradition.

Judy (Arizona) and Mary Jo (Sanibel)

Judy (Arizona) and Mary Jo (Sanibel)

I was very excited to see Mary Jo on the beach since she’s a friend, fellow sheller and a shell expert. She works at one of my favorite places…..The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. I always like to talk “shelling” with Mary Jo because she is a wealth of knowledge. I love shelling but I’m not a scientific shell expert …..only a shelling expert  (if there is there such a thing) so I love to learn from her. Her friend Judy (her college roommate) who was visiting for the holiday, had already filled her fist with LIGHTENING WHELKS, PEN SHELLS, PAPER FIGS and I think a FIGHTING CONCH too so said she couldn’t carry anything else.

Thanks, Santa for bringing lots of treasures. Merry Christmas!

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