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

Seashell Art and Education at the Sarasota Shell Show

Posted by on Feb 7, 2017 in Clark Rambo, Pam Rambo, Sarasota Shell Show | 8 comments


I love to learn about creatures that live in the sea and see some of their astonishing growth patterns that make up their shells like this frilly ORCHID MUREX. On the other hand, I love to see how human creative minds take those beautiful shells and build a feast for the eyes with yet another beautiful structure.

Beautiful beach treasures turned into beautiful works of art.

This is why I love to go to shell shows…. the scientific exhibits give us a looking glass to learn more about the life of mollusks and the history of our world through different aspects.

Then the artist in me can’t wait to see the creative inspirations made of shells and beach bling in the artistic exhibits. They are mind blowing beautiful so its the best of both worlds.

I’m proud to say that not only was I a judge this year in the Sarasota Shell Show for the artistic displays last weekend… but Clark was the second judge in the artistic categories! Yay Super Sheller Clark! It was an honor to judge next to him.

Both judges got to choose an exhibit for “Judge’s Special Merit Award” so my ribbon went to this spectacsheller “Paisley” by Caryl Renzcarly renz seashell art

Clark gave his Judge’s Special Merit Award to “Ruby Slippers Redefined” by Heather O’Keefe.

There were so many fabshellous works of art for all to enjoy.

It was a treat to meet for the first time some of the artists who created these exceptional art exhibits… like Mary Ella Marra.

Donna Timmerman with her beautiful crochet necklace.

Suzanne Dietsch with her Sailors Valentine.


It was also so much fun to meet and hang out with other shellers like Lee Ann and Dale from Bradenten who were enjoying the exhibits just as much as we were.

And Eva and Chris from Palmetto. We all have so much in common.

It all starts with having the same love of the sea….

Thank you Donna, Nancy, Sally and the whole Sarasota Shell Club for inviting Clark and me to be a special part of your show- we both feel honored.

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The Calm After The Storm

Posted by on Sep 10, 2016 in Clark Rambo, Conch, Horse Conch, Hurricane Hermine, Sanibel Stoop, Storms, Tropical Storm #9 Hermine | 17 comments


The best time to find lots of shells on the beaches of southwest Florida is after a storm coming from the Gulf Of Mexico – which is exactly what happened last weekend when Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hermine came through.


We never know exactly when or where the shells will start washing in after the storm leaves town but theres nothing more fun than hunting for them high and low. This is also the time to meet lots of other fun-loving shellers on the hunt for those amazing treasures that roll up on our beaches.


… And in the water when it calms.

… And anywhere in between.


Errrrr but wait. There may be something more fun than searching for them… Finding them.



Boom Shellalaka!

Jay (andrea) finding-shells-in-water-sanibel-1



Truly Spectacsheller!



This type of excitment is exactly what happened at the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach by the fishing pier last weekend. It’s what we shellers wait for and dream about!


Earlier this week the seas calmed from the storm and the shells weren’t as easy to find so Clark and I headed south towards Marco to explore the outer islands by boat.


OMG Super Sheller Clark hit the shellmongus jackpot… 2 gorgeous HORSE CONCHS! Thank you Tropical Storm Hermine for stirring up the Gulf Of Mexico just a tad without doing any damage to anything or anyone. You left such beautiful gifts of the sea for us.



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Sanibel “Enthusiast” Helps Shellebrate

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in In the News, Islander Newspaper, Pam Rambo | 2 comments

Pam Rambo Sanibel Shell Enthusiast

Oh. Em. Gee. That’s me!

Holy Cowrie, I made it on the cover of Sanibel/Captiva local newspaper thanks to Islander news reporter Anita Force Marshall (CLICK HERE for the full story). I’m so honored! We’ve been on a wild ride since the official National Seashell Day  so I’m very sorry I haven’t been posting as frequently lately but I promise to make it up to you very soon after the big day… June 20. It’s soon!

National Seashell Day Pam Rambo 1


PS- We had a blast on our iLoveShelling cruise to Big Hickory last week and I still need to show you some of the cool things we found…. that’s coming up next.

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Shelling Is Beach Therapy

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Bowman's Beach, Pam Rambo, Shelling Island Findings Video | 27 comments

Sanibel Seashells on Bowmans Beach

Shelling is beach therapy. I love a long walk along the water’s edge searching for wildlife and picking up a few beautiful shells.

Seashell collecting Sanibel Island Florida

Yesterday at Sanibel’s Bowmans Beach, the crowds disappeared as we walked passed the families set up for their beach day with umbrellas, coolers and beach chairs. The further we walked, the quieter my mind became. Everything else on the planet slipped away other than seeing a big wide open beach with shells, sand, water and sky.

Sanibel seashells Bowmans Beach

Then the trance began. It’s like I’m being hypnotized each time I’m at the beach when I hear the waves wash up on the sand with jingle of shells rolling back and forth.

Bowmans Beach seashells waves

When I walk along the shell line from a recent higher tide I’m searching for shapes, textures and colors of the shells I know so well. Aha! A SHARK’S EYE hidden among the ARKS, KITTENS PAWS and VENUS CLAMS.

collecting shells on Sanibel Island

There are days when the shells are piled high or washing up at your feet in droves but long walks like Clark and I took yesterday are my absolute favorite. It’s what keeps me going back time and time again. It’s my beach therapy.

Seashell Wish Tree Sanibel

Amazingly enough when we got back, I got a little surprise in my email inbox. I’m in a short little film about shelling! I was asked in an interview back in February about what I love about shelling. Well…. everything actually! But then it all boiled down to how it makes me feel- I’m just so dang happy when I’m on the beach and shelling takes my mind to another galaxy. It makes me appreciate how beautiful this life is. It’s just that simple. The Beaches Of Fort Myers and Sanibel did an A-MAZING job on this film and I am over the moon shell, humbled and honored that I was asked to participate in it.

I hope you enjoy!

PS- Oh and yes- That’s Elliot Sudal (Shelliot- heehee ) in the film too. See? I told you he isn’t just a fisherman, he’s a sheller! CLICK HERE to read my post about him.

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2016 Sanibel Shell Festival Artistic Seashell Crafts

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 in 78th Sanibel Shell Festival 2015, 79th Sanibel Shell Festival 2016, Beach Hearts, Captain Brian Holaway, Decorate with shells, Make Seashell Stuff, Pam Rambo, Sailor's Valentine, Sanibel Shell Fair and Show, Shell Art | 16 comments

Sanibel Shell Festival Betsy Studley art

Every year, the first week of March is always exciting because the Sanibel Shell Festival comes to town. This 2016 year was a trifect-shell-a for me.

1. –  The show was fantastic.

shell craft pink flower

Fun to see Carol Strange sharpie these beautiful shells.

painted shells sanibel shell festival carol strange

Kelle Covington’s shell encrusted ukulele.

Kelle Covington shell ukelele

Marti Gorun’s gorgeous seashell mirror.

seashell mirror sanibel shell festival Marti Gorun

2. – Fun to hang out with shell friends and everybody at the show was exceptionally happy and chatty.

I had such a great time hanging out with Rachel (we learned so much from her last year about Natural Pearls) and Master Naturalist Shelling Guide Captain Brian Holaway.

pam rambo rachel brian holaway

We are such a colorful group! The girls just gotta have fun in psycheshellic colors with Kelle (she made the awesome Ukulele) and Shelley from Naples. Thanks for sending this photo Kelle :)

pam rambo kelle covington sea shelley

Bill Jordan is a hoot! He’s also an amazing artist with his SAILORS VALENTINE and pocket watch valentine.

Bill Jordan shell valentine pocket watch artist Sanibel shell festival

Speaking of SAILORS VALENTINES… David Rhyne won Peoples Choice Award in the artistic division of the show.

david rhyne valentine peoples choice award sanibel shell festival 2016

You have to see the close up of this one because of the detail of the basket weave. The basket and the circle weave are made of SEA URCHIN SPINES.

sea urchin spine shell craft weave

Another amazing VALENTINE by Judy Dinnick.

Judy Dinnick valentine sanibel shell festival 2016

This one by Gerda Reid.

Gerda Reid sailors valentine Sanibel Shell festival 2016

Oooh shell la… so many stunning pieces!

sailors valentine sanibel shell festival-1

And then we come to #3 of the trifectshella – The shelling was awesome!

Rachel's junonia

Rachel found a JUNONIA on the east end of Sanibel about a mile from the Sanibel Lighthouse and her Aunt Margie found an amazing SCOTCH BONNET in about the same area.


scotch bonnet

Not bad I’d say for a couple of days of beach combing.

Best Sanibel shells march 2016

I’ve run out of room on this post and lots of cool shells to show you.. and more cool shell people. So stay tuned for more photos of the scientific division of the Sanibel Shell Festival.





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Catching A Sanibel Shark With The Shark Wrestler

Posted by on Apr 10, 2015 in Elliot Sudal, Lemon Shark, Lemon Shark Teeth, Shark's Teeth, Sharks- Sanibel | 49 comments

Pam Rambo with 200 pound Sanibel Florida Lemon shark

I caught a 200 pound LEMON SHARK!

Pam Rambo reels in a 200 pound lemon shark

Oh yes I did… and I reeled her in from about 500 yards from the beach.

pam rambo catching a shark

I may have reeled it in but…. Okay, to be fair… my friend Elliot Sudal- aka – “The Shark Wrestler” did everything else.

Elliot Sudal and Pam Rambo catch Lemon shark Sanibel Island Florida

Now don’t think because Elliot’s been named “The Shark Wrestler” and “The Shark Wrangler” by national press like National Geographic, CNN, Fox News and ABC News that catching this beast is “mean” or dangerous for the SHARK. He’s a SHARK conservationist.

Elliot is part of a research team that tags SHARKS for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 1962, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP) has been a tagging study for shark and ray species in the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean to better understand their movement patterns, abundance, when/where they use coastal habitats, what distances they migrate and where they migrate to. Once he catches a SHARK, he tags, measures and records valuable information for NOAA’s scientific research then releases the SHARK back into the water all within just a few minutes.

shark tagging kit

Tagging SHARKS is an excellent way to study their habits to help ensure balance in the ocean’s ecosystem… so why not have fun doing it! Check out this Fox Connecticut video interview with Elliot having fun catching and tagging SHARKS … CLICK HERE

So what’s this got to do with shelling? Well, he might look a little familiar since he is one of the captains on our Captiva Cruises shelling trips to Cayo Costa- remember the Shellphone guy (CLICK HERE)? Yes, he’s a sheller too and laughs every time he finds a nice shell like the BANDED TULIP in his cast net.

Elliot Sudal finds seashell in cast net

Clark and I were shelling at Blind Pass Sanibel one evening and ran into Elliot setting up his reels for a night of SHARK fishing. Before I even got to reel in that awesome LEMON SHARK, Elliot had already done a lot of work to get the bait in place.

Sanibel sunset cast net Elliot Sudal

He wrangles bait fish like this SHEEPSHEAD by cast net.

Elliot Sudal catching bait for sharks on Sanibel Island

He also throws a few smaller rods out to catch fish like this LADYFISH to put on a circle hook (the preferred hook for marine conservation) with gobs of heavy duty line…

Elliot Sudal baits circle hook to kayak for shark catching

Then he paddled his kayak out to the deeper water around 500 yards out while friend CJ Floyd watches the line.

CJ watches shark baiting by kayak CJ watches shark baiting by kayak

So don’t worry! This line with the bait is nowhere near where we are shelling in the water. He paddles it waaaay out.

Elliot Sudal paddles into the Sanibel sunset with shark bait

I’ve gotta tell ya, this is one of the most amazing things Ive ever experienced. Finding a JUNONIA is truly a spectacsheller moment but feeling the exhilaration of Mother Nature’s most incredible creatures tugging on the other end of this fishing pole was FINtastic! I caught a SPINNER SHARK too but that one got away. Just after Clark snapped this photo, that fella shook the hook.

Pam Rambo fishing for sharks on Sanibel Island

But that’s ok because the next bite was my 7 foot LEMON SHARK. Can you believe it? And yes, in person you can see that there is a yellow tinge to her… hence the name “Lemon”. (Thats for you, Rachel… heehee xo)

Pam Rambo catches a lemon shark she named Jawnonia

Elliot tagged her…

Elliot Sudal Shark wrestler tagging lemon shark with Pam Rambo

Along with CJ, they measured and recorded her…

Recording Measurement for Tag and release sanibel shark

Then Elliot safely released her back into the water.

Elliot Sudal Shark Wrangler releasing lemon shark Sanibel

I got to fill out all of the valuable information to send off to NOAA … and I got to name her!  Her new name?

Shark tagging details on Jawnonia the Sanibel Lemon Shark

Introducing….. Jawnonia!

Hahaha … and of course I had to see what she would look like with some JUNONIA spots on her- LOL

Jawnonia The Junonia Lemon Shark by Pam Rambo

Okay y’all…  I don’t want you to freak out about SHARKS being in the areas where we are looking for shells. First of all, most SHARKS Elliot catches are at dusk or later at night so most of us aren’t shelling off shore at those times. Secondly, the odds of you getting eaten by a SHARK are slim to none (and “Slim” just left town- as Clark would say). SHARKS are very smart creatures and humans aren’t what SHARKS want for dinner.

SHARKS have gotten such a bad reputation since the movie Jaws so I know that some people have a deep fear and/or concern for SHARKS so let me answer some of the questions you may have.

Yes- SHARKS live in the waters of Southwest Florida. We love to see all types of Sealife in the Gulf Of Mexico and we shouldn’t feel like it’s taboo to talk about SHARKS being there too. They are an important part of our healthy environment that we need to respect and protect.

Yes- It is safe to swim in the Gulf Of Mexico. Honestly, I was a little afraid to write this post because I didn’t want people afraid of the water. If you know the truth about SHARKS then you will respect them more without being afraid of the “unknowing”. Knowledge is power. So if you look at the statistics of only 9 SHARK fatalities in Florida from 1959-2010, hopefully you will still respect SHARKS but will understand the safe odds you have with SHARKS when you go for a dip in the water in Florida. As George Burgess, curator of the world shark attack data housed at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History says “beachgoers are far more likely to win the lottery than to (unintentionally) encounter a shark”. For more statistics – check out Florida Museum Of Natural History

And here are a few fun facts about SHARKS to sink your teeth into…

  • Sharks have cruised the ocean for 400 million years.
  • Sharks were on the planet 100 millions years before dinosaurs.
  • Lemon sharks can lose a whole set of teeth, one by one, every 10 days.
  • Lemon sharks like Jawnonia can give birth up to 17 pups in one litter.
  • There are more than 450 species of sharks throughout the ocean

purple shark fishing reel with orange sunset

So now if you are on the beach looking for shells and you come across fishermen with kayaks and lots of poles, you can feel better about ducking around their fishing lines if they are out there tagging sharks for research conservation. Especially if you run in to Elliot- because he knows better than plopping his gear down right in the middle of the only big shell pile in miles (oh yes, I’ve seen that happen more than once with other fishermen- grrrrr). We all have our reasons we want to spend time on the beach so it’s fun for all of us to learn something new about the other creatures in the sea.

sanibel kayaker celebrating sunset

Thank you Elliot for teaching me so much about SHARKS and for letting me be part of such an amazing experience!  You can follow Elliot @acksharks on Instagram or ElliotSudal on Facebook to see what SHARK adventures he is up to as he “Shark Wrestles” each winter on Sanibel and summers on Nantucket. And a special thanks to Rachel Fields for being so much fun and hanging out with us and taking photos of “my catch”. I’m usually the one behind the camera so thank you so much for sending those great photos to me!

sanibel shellers rachel elliot and pam

OH WAIT! And…. Elliot is going to be on Nat Geo! He is starring in an upcoming television episode of a new reality show called The Raft airing every Sunday at 10pm eastern time (9pm central) from April 5 to May 3, 2015.

UPDATE: Elliot’s episode was awesome! It aired May 10 … and spoiler alert… he made it to land! This link won’t probably be live very long but you can see a preview here…

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