Archive for Pen Shell

Feb
27

I Found A Half Naked Shell

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half naked pen shell atrina seminuda

No, you silly goose, this shell doesn’t have a bikini on… it’s really called a HALF-NAKED PEN SHELL! I found this rare PEN SHELL (Atrina seminuda) at Gulfside City Park on Sanibel Island, Florida a few weeks ago just after high west winds so there were thousands of shells that washed up on the beach. Talk about being silly… remember my crazy post “On The Beach With Shell Eggs And Ham, Pam-I-Am“? Well that’s when I found this very rare PEN SHELL. When I say “very rare” I mean it’s very rare for Southwest Florida. 

half-naked pen shell found on sanibel southwest florida

Okay wait….before you get bored with hearing about the not-so-attractive PEN SHELL, this is actually pretty dang cool, so go get some caffeine and stay with me, alright? And really, haven’t you seen tons of these shells if you’ve visited the west coast of Florida?

Last year when Shelling Sistah Susan H was here, she asked me if I had ever run into a third type of PEN SHELL  (the HALF NAKED) and told me to look at a picture of it online CLICK HERE. I studied the differences between this one and the STIFF PEN SHELL and the SAW TOOTH PEN SHELL. Okay, I’ve got it in my brain… if it’s here, I’m gonna find it. I searched for an entire year to find this stinkin thing! But I found it! I think I was just as excited when I found my JUNONIA… not.

I don’t think you will ever be collecting oodles of PEN SHELLS, (I’m not sure I know anybody who actually “collects” them) but it was sure exciting to me to finally find the darn thing. The only way to really tell it apart from the other PENS is to look at the inside muscle scar of the MOLLUSK… in other words- where the meat attached to the shell.

interior atrina pen shells southwest florida gulf

There is a slight variance on the outside of each of these shells. From left to right… STIFF PEN SHELL, HALF-NAKED PEN SHELL and SAW TOOTH PEN SHELL. I’m not really sure if you’ll be able to see the difference from this photo, but look very closely at the right side of each of the shells. That’s the hinge.. and it is very straight on the first and third shell but slightly curved on the middle one. So now that you know that the HALF-NAKED has a curved hinge, go back to the last photo with all 3 shells and see the big gap in-between the valves of the middle shell. That’s why I even picked up the shell in the first place, I saw that slight curved hinge and immediately thought to myself… OMG maybe that’s it!

atrina pen shell differences

Maybe this is a better view of the curve in the hinge… on the left is the HALF-NAKED and on the right is the STIFF PEN SHELL. Can you see it now?

the difference in pen shells

This is the real giveaway on the difference between these shells. The middle one is the HALF-NAKED (isn’t that just the funniest name? I get so tickled every time I say it!). Can you see more lines and shapes on the HALF NAKED right in the middle of the shell?

interior valve atrina pen shells seminuda difference

The next photo is a close-up of that shell and it almost looks like a face, right? Do you see the “eyes”? Okay, that is the muscle scar. Right above the “eyes” is a wide milky space before it changes complete color (like a hair line). The whole milky or pearly area is called the nacreous. The HALF-NAKED is the only one of our PENS that the muscle scar leaves such a prominent space below the nacreous border.

atrina seminuda muscle scar and nacreous

This next one is the STIFF PEN SHELL… the most common PEN SHELL on our beaches and it looks almost identical to the HALF- NAKED. I’m sure you’ve all seen this one if you’ve walked on the beaches in Sanibel or Captiva and you’ve probably cussed at it after you stepped on it, right? Ouch!

stiff pen shell atria rigida

Here’s the interior of the STIFF PEN. It’s hard to see the muscle scar on this one but there is definitely no obvious space between the top of the muscle scar and the border of the pearly part.

stiff pen shell atria rigida nacreous

This next one is the SAWTOOTH PEN SHELL. This one is easy to tell the difference from the others since it is much lighter in color and it has much smaller spines that don’t stick out (to cut your foot). I didn’t do a close up of the interior nacreous area because it didn’t really show up well… and …. wait! wake up! I’m just getting to the good part so gulp more caffeine, would ya? LOL

saw tooth pen shell atria serrata

This is how I found my first HALF-NAKED PEN laying on the beach at Gulfside City Park.

half naked pen shell at gulfisde city park

I took the shell to Dr. Jose Leal at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum to get a positive ID from him. He positively identified it for me as the Atrina seminuda (HALF NAKED) and then told me that they did not have one of these shells at the museum. Since it was my first one I’ve ever found, I told him he could borrow it to photograph it.  I know, I know, it sounds stingy that I didn’t donate it to him but geeeeez, remember…. Ive been looking for this guy for a year!

The first one I took to him to get a positive ID wasn’t so pretty and it cracked a little when I opened it up to look at the muscle scar…

sanibel atria seminuda pen shell

So I went hunting again and low and behold… I found two more after looking at thousands of them all along Sanibel. Gulfside City Park was the winner again. I found a perfect one with no cracks that I’ve shown in my photos here and I donated this one to The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum…

half naked pen shell atrina seminuda

They will soon have it on their website as a Southwest Florida shell and have my shell in the photo. And yes, it’s still the only one they have so far- Dr Leal looked in the archives and couldn’t find another one. I’m so proud of that little PEN SHELL! Hahaha- Really, Who would have thought I’d ever be so happy about a PEN SHELL. heehee. And I would never have known to look for it if it hadn’t been for sweet Susan H! Thank you Susan H for asking me about it and giving me something to hunt for. I always love to find new things on the beach!

i Love Shelling

smaller sea urchin sanibel beach bling

SEA URCHINS! I haven’t seen SEA URCHINS washed up on our shores in quite a while… much less cutie itty bitty ones like this.

small size sea urchin sanibel island florida

I found dried tiny ones with spines as well…

tiny dried sea urchin sanibel beach

Normally if SEA URCHINS still have their spines in tact I would assume they were still alive and put them back in the water. But I found these in the highest wrack line at Lighthouse Beach. They had been cast on shore by those rough waves from the high winds last week with the high tide and got caught in the “sea weeds” then left for days to dry out. They look like the gumballs that the Sweetgum trees drop in the winter up north, dont they? LOL

sea urchin gum balls sanibel florida

I normally don’t get so excited to collect PEN SHELLS (since we see them so often on our beaches) but I rarely see perfectly intact baby STIFF PEN SHELLS (on the left of my hand) and SAW TOOTH PENS SHELLS especially with no BARNACLES or SLIPPER SHELLS attached to them. They are so cute!

stiff pen shell saw tooth pen shell

See how thick this wrack line was? Some people in other parts of the world might think this was an ugly site on a beach… but not me and most beach combers. This is a haven for shells and BEACH BLING for beach combers and for wildlife as well. Thick wrack lines like this packed with all sort of vegetation and other sealife are so important for our beach ecosystem. They provide food for birds and other wildlife as well as providing a layer to trap sand  for less erosion. They become incubators for dunes!

macro algae cast on shore Sanibel Island Florida

But… Just to make sure this seaweed was a natural occurrence without being harmful, I asked my friend and director of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Dr. Eric Milbrandt if he knew what types of matter had washed ashore. Of course he did! He said “There were 8 species from collections at Moonshadows beach and the Lighthouse beach. Many of the specimens had intact holdfasts and given the recent > 1 m wave heights, were likely attached and cast on shore. Many of these species are found at nearshore hardbottom areas (the same areas that produce many of the mollusc shells) whose abundance peaks in Nov.”  He also reported that most of these species of seaweed (macroalgae) were common on all coasts. Thank you Dr. Milbrandt!

macro algae wrack line on Sanibel island Florida beach

Along with the PEN SHELLS and SEA URCHINS tucked away in all that seaweed, Clark and I found hundreds of double DOSINIAS…

disk dosinias sanibel lighthouse beach florida

And a very cool completely intact dried (and non-stinky!) SPIDER CRAB…

spider crab on sea whip sanibel florida october

Clark found a double SAILORS EAR (CHANNELED DUCK CLAM) without any cracks. It’s funny, we rarely find them on the beach with both sides intact because they are just so dang delicate…

double sailors ear shell sanibel beach

I haven’t gotten a good dose of combing through cool BEACH BLING in a while so I was in haaaawg heaven. There were oodles of little micro shells, SEA WHIPS and other goodies so I could (and did) walk for miles and miles getting lost in discovering the fascinating gifts that Mother Nature leaves us on our beaches.

shells urchins sea whips crabs sanibel florida

dosina shell with tiny sea urchin sanibel florida

ask request to prom

Alyssa, Jacob wants to know if you will go to prom with him! Jacob (from Ohio) is so clever! He is not asking Alyssa to go to prom in plain old pen and ink, he is asking her by writing in PEN SHELLS from the beach on Sanibel Island, Florida.

jacob pen shells

I hope she says yes, Jacob!

seashells on seashore sanibel

There were quite a few of those PEN SHELLS washing in with some other shells on the Sanibel side of Blind Pass this far from the bridge…

shells sanibel lazy flamingo area

Barb from Wisconsin found lots of shells she was looking for… JINGLE SHELLS!

barb wisconson jingle shells

She collects JINGLES for her mom to use them for making shell frames. Pretty!

jingle shells hand

It looks like the bigger shells (other than PEN SHELLS) are still taking their time getting on to shore after our strong north west winds this week but Chris and Lynn from New Jersey were enjoying every minute looking for them. They told me they already have enough shells but always look for something unusual. That’s what keeps me shelling too!

chris lynn new jersey shelling

It was so nice to meet y’all this morning and good luck to you Jacob!

collecting seashells seashore sanibel

 

Categories : Jingle, Pen Shell
Comments (24)
Feb
27

Pen Shells and Beach Bling

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pen shells wash sanibel

It has been an unusual week on Sanibel. The winds are changing directions and speed by the second which makes for an interesting site to see of all the different things that wash up on our beaches. I showed you lots of different EGG CASINGS in my last post but I found another one today… a SHARK’S EYE EGG COLLAR…

sharks eye egg collar

…oodles of PEN SHELLS…

pen shell wrack line

but we also are seeing PURPLE SEA URCHINS…

urchins wash up sanibel

And weird fish like this SHORTNOSE BATFISH

shortnose batfish

EEEEK! And an EEL! Yall know I love me some BEACH BLING… but EELS? They kinda creep me out for some reason.

Sanibel eel

Blllaaaahhh, Okay, now that I’m completely creeped out… I have to change the subject because I have some happy, happy stuff happening here too that I dont want to ruin! Okay.. here is a happy picture to get back in the mood of what Sanibel is NORMALLY like… having fun doing the Sanibel Stoop!

sanibel stoop lighthouse

I met some awesome folks on the beach this week at the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach! This is Shelling Sister Donna R from NY…

donna r sanibel shelling

She was on her way to finding the Sanibel Six. Yes, that ALPHABET CONE is pretty beat up but It’s still a CONE and it’s whole and HUGE!

Sanibel six almost

I also met sweetie pie Katherine Haskins with her husband Tom.

tom katherine sanibel shelling

 Katherine love the minis so she was finding lots of different miniatures like WENTLETRAPS along with AUGERS, CERITHS and a little perfect WORMIE.

wentletrap mini shells

It was fun to see them on the beach together with their iLS shirts on! (teehee) Warms my heart.

tom katherine donna sanibel

I also met another awesome couple while walking on the beach today several miles west of Lighthouse Beach. Here are shellers Linda and Glen from Ohio…

linda glen ohio angel wing

Linda found an ANGEL WING! They also were happy to find their first KEYHOLE LIMPET along with these other goodies. Notice they even collect the broken SHARK’S EYES if the “eye” is still intact. Yep, they really are beautiful. I told them that when the SHARK’S EYE is brilliant blue in the middle that I’ve heard it called “Paul Newman’s eye”. This one is definitely a PAUL NEWMAN’S EYE!

linda angel wing shells

Oh wait… I feel so badly that I never introduced you to Shelly (love that name!) and Kayle whom I met last week at Blind Pass when the weather was a little cooler…

shelly kayle indiana seashelling

I found a PYGMY OCTOPUS inside a PEN SHELL and Kayle offered to take it out in the water to put it back. So sweet!

pigmy octopus penn shell

Here are Shelly and Kayle’s gorgeous treasures from the sea that they were collecting. Keep the image of this gorgeous PAPER FIG (in the middle of this green bucket) in your mind to leave you with a happy day. See? I told you I had happy happy stuff to show you. :)

kayle seashells

 

sunrise sanibel hurricane sandy

Our Sanibel and Captiva beaches were pounded by 4 to 6 foot waves for three days because of high northwest winds from Hurricane Sandy so I assumed we would have lots of shells at Blind Pass Sunday morning at low tide. I was wrong… so I kept moving.

Gulf Side City Park showed promise!

Hurricane sandy shells sanibel

It’s always a good sign to see PEN SHELLS! They get washed up first in a good storm so you know that there are better collectable shells on the way. I was lucky to see a SEA WHIP caught in this group of PEN SHELLS. I love these purple ones.

sea whip pen shells sanibel

After walking east only 1/4 mile, we found a nice shell pile!

seashell collecting hurricane sandy sanibel

My first find… a beautiful dark WORMIE!

dark worm shell hurricane sandy

And a candy corn for Halloween. See it trying to hide?

candy corn horse conch

Then I found a TULIP, WHELK and CONCH…

tulip whelk conch shells sanibel

I saw Kim from Michigan find a gorgeous TRUE TULIP rolling in the surf.

kim hurricane sandy sanibel

true tulip kim hurricane sandy

Are you ready to go shelling? Okay, then… Let’s go CYBER SHELLING! Click on the next photo to enlarge this random photo I took of the shell pile. Notice how many beautiful SCALLOPS there are…

cyber shelling october 28 2012

 I think today will be even better but I’ll never know until I get there. As we all know, the beach changes every single day but I think Blind Pass will take another day to load up with shells so I’m headed back to one of Sanibel’s mid island beaches…. like Gulf Side City Park again.

Clark sanibel seashell pile

Hurricane Sandy may be bringing us a few new shells to get excited about but we are very worried about all of you and our families that are up north bracing for Sandy and the “Super Storm” (as they are calling it). Please be safe!

millipede starfish

Apr
26

Beach Bling Is A Wonderful Thing

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beach bling flotsam sanibel gulf

If you want to learn the types of seashells, sea life, vegetation and what the different kinds of mollusk egg cases look like and live in the Gulf Of Mexico, you’ve got your chance this week. It all washed up on the beach on the East end of Sanibel.

beach bling flotsam

You can see it for miles. So many mollusk egg casings and PEN SHELLS galore!

mollusk egg cases Sanibel Florida

MERMAID PURSES! Well, they are really SKATE EGG CASES…

mermaid purse skate egg

HORSE CONCH EGG CASINGS (I shot this with the Nikon J1)…

horse conch mollusk egg case

WHELK EGG CHAINS…

mollusk egg casings beach

Lots of CRABS too. This one is a STONE CRAB…

stone crab sanibel florida

My friend Jane called me and said she found a dead crab shell on the beach that had a NAUTILUS  shell pattern. She has found a NAUTILUS before so she would know! Wanna see? CLICK HERE . So I went to see this crab…and it does have that pattern! It’s a FLAME BOX CRAB…

box crab jane

I also saw lots of SEA WHIPS. This was the first time I’ve ever found a WHITE SEA WHIP…

white sea whip

We normally just find the purple SEA WHIPS but when I went to see Jane’s FLAME BOX CRAB she showed me this bright yellow WHIP she picked up as well.

purple yellow sea whip

There were oodles of PURPLE SEA URCHINS also ( J1)…

purple sea urchin on seashells

I always get questions about the bones on the beach. They are from the bait in the crab traps… not random dead carcasses. LOL

beach bone flotsam

I also get a lot of questions about this guy on the left. It’s a SEA CUCUMBER…

sea cucumber sanibel

Don’t worry, I saw lots of shells too. Mainly, the double DOSINIAS.

Cyber Sheller Alert! This next photo is really big so you can do a little shelling and blinging…

dosinia sea shells sanibel cybershell

Looking through all this BEACH BLING, there are little treasures that look like this so you have to look closely…

turban horse conch shells

Some goodies were still washing in at the shoreline as well…

scattered shells south florida

The big find was by Seth (FL)! He found this huge HORSE CONCH on the sand bar near Donax Rd. Here he is with Erin and Reese…Erin Seth Reese

See? BEACH BLING is a wonderful thing… (J1)

beach bling flotsam jetsam

PS- Some of you know I’ve been testing a new Nikon J1 camera. It isn’t very spontaneous but when I do catch a nicer shot than with my spontaneous, trusty, easy, clear Panasonic DMC…. I’ve noted it.