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

Not Waiting For the Calm After The Storm

Posted by on Oct 4, 2015 in Calico, Sand Dollar, Scallop | 8 comments

Conch if you love sunset

Even though Hurricane Joaquin has been churning in the Caribbean hundreds of miles from Sanibel and Captiva the last few days, those north and west winds have effected our beaches and churned our gulf coast as well.

Rough SW gulf coast water with shells

This weekend Clark and I combed the beaches (through intermittent rain without lightning) finding some cool broken brick/concrete chunks with turquoise paint (maybe an old floor?), lots of incredible “sun beam” SCALLOPS and other assorted shells and bling getting tossed up by the rough surf on the beaches closer to Captiva.

beautiful sunrise scallops

Clark found lots of dreamy creamsicle shelliciousness at Bowman’s Beach.

orange shellicious shells

The gulf was much calmer near Gulfside Beach which made for a beautiful sunset to show off Ray’s perfect little juvie SAND DOLLAR.

Ray's sand dollar in the sky

Although Ray (from Nantucket) is visiting Sanibel for a fishing trip, he found his first SAND DOLLAR (he called it a sand nickel – heehee) along with some other shells. He noticed it was still a little dark so he knew to search for any signs of life by looking for any “fur” or cilia anywhere on the body. He asked me to check it out to make sure as well…. yep, he was right- no fur. It’s a keeper!

juvie sand dollar by Ray while fishing

At Lighthouse Beach, the wind was kicking up and the shells were starting to roll in…. but you had to fast to snag them or the waves would take them right back out as fast as they came in. Dale and Wayne (Jacksonville, FL) were lucky enough to catch a few good ones but Dale said this ALPHABET CONE was the best of their collection. Awesome!

Dale Wayne Jacksonville with cone shell Sanibel

Just like this weekend, each SW Florida beach this week will probably be changing by the hour. That’s why we love to be out there and it keeps us coming back, right?

i heart shells beach art

I can’t wait to see what we find on our iLoveShelling Adventure to Cayo Costa tomorrow with Captiva Cruises- So excited! If you won’t be joining us tomorrow, check out more dates by CLICKING HERE


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Pearls Of The Sea

Posted by on Sep 26, 2015 in Bowman's Beach, Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Lighthouse, Sand Dollar, Sanibel, Sea Bean, Sea Pearl | 18 comments

Sea Pearls and Babys Ears

SEA PEARLS and BABYS EARS were some favorite gems to be found at Lighthouse Beach this week. They blend in with all the other shells and bling so I feel so rewarded when I find one. It’s like I feel lucky that I saw the beauty in them when others may have passed them by without giving them a glance. That’s why beachcombers “get” each other, right? Beachcombers know there are hundreds of treasures the sea offers …but we just have to take our time to look for them.

beach bucks

But I feel luckiest when we meet other beach combers on the beach like Lee and Susan (formerly of Guantanamo Bay) who turn into friends for life because they feel the same way. So much fun!

Beach Combing with the Merrills

We not only found those SEA BEAN treasures at Lighthouse Beach, we combed the beach at Gulfside beach…

The boys beach combing low tide Sanibel

…Where we saw some nice SAND DOLLARS, OLIVES and a few other nice finds.

Shells and bling at Bowmans Beach Sanibel

Each beach we went to, we saw completely different shells and bling. We walked along Bowman’s Beach to find a few small shell piles…

bowmans beach shells and water

Lee caught a few SHARKS EYES rolling in the surf.

Shells at beachcombing Bowmans Beach

Oooooo… and look at that FLAT SCALLOP and ALPHABET CONE Clark found…  perfect!

Beachcombing shells at Bowmans Beach
This was my fave find of the week… a brilliant, bright orange RIBED CANTHARUS. Omigosh… Eye candy.

Ribbed Cantharus Bowman Beach beachcombing

But even if I didn’t find the RIBBED CANTHARUS, I found happiness…

Beach combing with friends

With some of my fave peeps …

Rambo and Merrills at Lighthouse beach

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Whelkome To Paradise

Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 in Lighthouse, Lightning Whelk, Sand Dollar, Sanibel, Whelk | 8 comments

Whelkome lightning whelk

Life on a tropical island is magical. Our skies change from blue to pink to orange to grey any given moment bringing rain showers to cool off from the heat of the day which produce rainbows and picturesque reflections.

Reflecting on the power of the dollar-  a sand dollar
On my beach walk at low tide just before yet another stunning sunset, I found a few treasures on the gulf side near Sanibel’s Lighthouse Beach.

Beachcomber small shells and sand dollars

Milt and Jenna from New York found about the same sweet little minis I found walking toward the lighthouse.

Shellers Milt Jenna from New York visit Sanibel Floridav
After making a turn around the tip of the island heading towards the fishing pier, we saw lots and lots of people.

Sanibel Lighthouse beach with shellers

If you were lucky like Bryce from Kansas, you could find TULIPS and WHELKS half buried around those old concrete slabs. (For the history of those slabs CLICK HERE)

Collecting shells around rocks

Hmmm…. I don’t think Bryce was the only lucky one. I’m sure everybody who sees beauty like this feels very lucky.

Sanibel catamaran at sunset with a shell

Join me on a Shelling Adventure! For me information and dates CLICK HERE

pam rambo shelling trips

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Sand Dimes By The Dozen

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Live Sand Dollar, Sand Dollar, Sanibel | 13 comments

Tiny baby sand dollars found on Sanibel

The teeny tiny SAND DIMES are back at Gulfside City Park!

finger tip sand dollar

Yahoo! There’s gold in them that SEAWEED hills. I found these sweet little white SAND DOLLARS high on the dry beach mixed in with the wrack line dry SEA WEEDS…. so far from the water. Dollar days are back.

beach treasure sand dollar in sea weed

I just followed the wrack line to find the money trail.

Dry white sand dollar dimes in high tide wrack

I walked down to the water’s edge to find hundreds of live SAND DOLLARS washed up in the low tide.

Baby live sand dollar dimes in the sand

As the tide turned and the water started covering them up, all of the live ones all along the tidal line dug themselves back into the sand where they will hopefully grow into adult SAND DOLLARS.

Tiny live baby sand dollar Sanibel

Mother Nature had other plans for this fist full of dollars. She was giving out SAND DIMES by the dozen in the high dry wrack.

small dried sand dollar dimes

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Beautiful Life On The Beach Video

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Baby's Ear, Birds, Conch, Fighting Conch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, live baby ear, Live Sand Dollar, Live Shark's eye, Sand Dollar, Shark's Eye, Starfish | 33 comments

bird in the yellow sunset

You wanted a video? Is that what I heard earlier this week after I posted photos of lots of living sea creatures in the low tidal pools? If so….  I’m delivering! I captured some footage of the awesome SHARKS EYE, STARFISH, SAND DOLLAR, FIGHTING CONCHS, BABYS EAR and an incredible LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. Wherever in the world you might be, sit back and enjoy the beautiful life on the Sanibel beaches.


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How To Identify Differences Between Live and Dead Sand Dollars

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015 in Sand Dollar, Sand Dollar Video, Video | 8 comments

keyhole sand dollar mellita isometra

It’s thrilling to see a live SAND DOLLAR at low tide half buried in the sand and water, isn’t it?

cilia showing on a live sand dollar

It’s also thrilling to see bleached out SAND DOLLARS washing in with the tide as well, right?

sandy sand dollar CLW beach

But how do you know if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not when it is isn’t bright white?

sand dollars in the surf ft myers beach

If a SAND DOLLAR is dark in color and half buried in the sand and/or water, it is most likely still alive and we should let it stay in its place in the water.

Little Hickory Live Sand Dollar

There have been times I have posted photos of SAND DOLLARS in my bucket that were grey in color. This has been a concern to folks who were worried about whether or not I collected live SAND DOLLARS. First of all, I would never collect a live SAND DOLLAR. But I completely understand the concerns from anyone who wants to make sure nobody takes a living creature out of its habitat – especially just to take it home for a souvenir.

sand dollars and shells in a blue bucket

So here’s the way to tell if it’s alive or not… Look for the CILIA and velvety skin. These are the things that keep the animal alive and on these SAND DOLLARS… they are missing so they are not alive any more. These are now just the TESTS of the animal… like the shell (although its not technically a shell).

dead sand dollars without cilia

Do you see how the edge and surface of this SAND DOLLAR looks like it has fur?

sand dollar cilia

SAND DOLLARS have short SPINES covered in CILIA (tiny hairs) so it can move along the sand and grasses. Along with those “hairs” are TUBE FEET (which look like “fur” to me too – heehee) which is actually how the SAND DOLLAR breathes.

live sand dollar with cilia and tube feet

I bet now, you can look at this next photo and see that all of these baby SAND DOLLARS in Clark’s hand are alive. After I snapped this photo, he put them back in the water.

live sand dollars sanibel Clypeasteroida

You can see it here too, right? These need to go back into the water where they belong.

baby sand dollar

So now take a look at this next photo…. is this still alive? No. Even though this SAND DOLLAR is still gray in color, there’s no possible way it could be alive since there are no SPINES nor CILIA nor TUBE FEET. It has no way to breathe or move without those things.

sand dollar without cilia

Julianna shows us that the SAND DOLLAR to the left of the photo is still alive and the other one on the right side of the photo has no “fur” whatsoever. She is a good steward of the earth so she put the live one safely back in the water and she gave the other “hairless” one to her mom for safekeeping.

how to tell if a sand dollar is alive

Most days you will see sun bleached SAND DOLLARS just like this…. Hairless! Furless! Completely “Bald”! haha

sun bleached sand dollar without cilia

So next time you see a SAND DOLLAR while walking the beach, remember to leave it alone if it’s dark and hairy but if you are unsure if it’s alive… take your time to inspect this amazing creature before you assume it’s a “keeper”. Look for any signs of hairs, fur or velvety skin.

Sand dollar sanibel

Now you can bet your bottom DOLLAR you’ll know when to leave those sweet living SAND DOLLARS alone…

low tide sanibel sand dollars

and when you can jump for joy when you find that keeper almighty DOLLAR.

sand dollar on a Sanibel beach

Oh, and I took a short video of a cutie little juvie LIVE SAND DOLLAR to show you how they move those little hairs around. I hope this helps!

PS- Most of these photos are from articles I’ve published in the past, just click on each photo to be linked to those posts.

pam rambo shelling trips



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