There are days on Sanibel when hundreds of COCKLE shells… or DOSINIA shells… or PEN SHELLS wash up on the beach. Well, this past week (and lots of random weeks this year) there were hundreds- if not thousands- of SAND DOLLARS washing up on the beach.
Lots of them were still living (!) but some were perfectly bare of cilia and spines which means they can no longer be alive.
If you have any doubts whether a SAND DOLLAR is alive or dead, please leave it where you found it. But if you want to learn how to tell the difference, please CLICK HERE for my post How To Identify Differences Between Live And Dead Sand Dollars.
Local sheller Karen knows the ones she can keep and was as dumbfounded as I was to find gazillions of them scattered all over the beach.
So many in perfect condition.
If you look closely at this next photo, you’ll see those dark spots throughout the sand- most of those were still the live ones dotting the beach at Gulfside City Beach on Sanibel Island.
It always feels like such a special day to just see one, so I was feeling like I won the SAND DOLLAR lottery.
We have a nice collection of SAND DOLLARS already so I don’t normally pick them up any more… but… I had a few events planned this week to visit with friends so Clark and I gathered a few up to give as gifts. We placed them overnight in a bleach solution then rinsed them off in the morning. CLICK HERE for a more detailed tutorial for cleaning SAND DOLLARS.
We then placed them in the sun all day to dry out. They made for wonderful party favors for my friends that evening. Gifts from the sea.
We just had some strong NE winds move in this morning so all of these sweet beach bucks might get covered back up with the wave action. We always have to remember not to take anything for granted- they’re here one day and maybe gone the next. It happens that fast!
I’m working on new dates for our iLoveShelling cruises. I hope to have dates very soon so I can see y’all when you come to SW Florida to visit! I have through January… so CLICK HERE to join us!
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.
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!
We not only found those SEA BEAN treasures at Lighthouse Beach, we combed the beach at Gulfside beach…
…Where we saw some nice SAND DOLLARS, OLIVES and a few other nice finds.
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…
Lee caught a few SHARKS EYES rolling in the surf.
Oooooo… and look at that FLAT SCALLOP and ALPHABET CONE Clark found… perfect!
This was my fave find of the week… a brilliant, bright orange RIBED CANTHARUS. Omigosh… Eye candy.
But even if I didn’t find the RIBBED CANTHARUS, I found happiness…
With some of my fave peeps …
The teeny tiny SAND DIMES are back at Gulfside City Park!
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.
I just followed the wrack line to find the money trail.
I walked down to the water’s edge to find hundreds of live SAND DOLLARS washed up in the low tide.
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.
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.
Clark and I found loads of shells at Gulfside City Park yesterday and collected a few really sweet ones. Most of the sea shells we saw were the common clams and other bivalves but it’s funny to me how everybody sees something different when they look at a pile of shells like this. It’s the Is-The-Glass-Half-Full scenario. What do you see… Lots of shells? Or a picked over pile that has “nothing” in it?
I see a beautiful beach that has miles of shoreline to explore, don’t you?
Rachelle and Justin are always happy when they are on the beach and they found some nice shells in the water using their shell backhoes. They both found CONES- an awesome ALPHIE and a beauty of a FLORIDA.
Holly and Cathy from Indiana were searching in those shell piles and up high on the beach.
Cathy found her very first WENTLTRAP among some other sweet minis. I think my favorite ones she found were the teeniest tiniest little TURKEY WINGS. They are hard to see in this photo but they are perfectly darling.
I’m also usually tickled to run across a funny beach sculpture like this dog and bone… But! Remember folks, it’s SEA TURTLE nesting season. Please don’t build tall sand sculptures or dig trenches to cause mother SEA TURTLES to have false crawls or for the babies to get trapped. It’s so stinkin adorable but I’m sure SCCF turtle trackers will decide if it needs to be smoothed out.
Shellzam! This HORSE CONCH rolled up on the beach right in front of me!
As the evening tide was coming in at Gulfside City Park Beach, it was bringing oodles of PENS SHELLS, SEA URCHINS and STARFISH…
So many other cool things wash up too like yellow SEA WHIPS, DONINIAS and BONES from CRAB TRAPS. When we have high west winds, the water gets so rough that CRAB TRAPS get tossed around so hard the BONES that are left over from the bait (mostly PIGS FEET) end up falling out then wash ashore.
The Gulf Of Mexico is so powerful, even when the wind dies down the currents still have enough power to wash large live HORSE CONCHS on the beach. Clark and I saw about 6 live HORSE CONCHS wash up on to the beach. We tried to walk them out in the water far enough to not wash up again but all we can do is keep our fingers crossed they stayed there.
And then… there are magical times when one of these big, beautiful shells rolls up on the beach completely empty like this one found by Lynn from Missouri. Spectacsheller!
And then…. another big, beautiful empty HORSE CONCH rolls up for me too! We got to shellebrate together!
You want to know the most amazing thing? I filmed my find on video so you get to see it too…. hopefully soon. I was filming all of the cool BEACH BLING on my iPhone but didn’t realize that I had been videoing for 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I’ve had the hardest time downloading a video thats so long- Ack! So… as Im writing, it still has 329 minutes remaining to download. OMG Ive already been trying for a day now! So I will show you this awesome unedited video in my next post just so you can see everything single thing I saw on my beach walk and see how I found my HORSE CONCH. Its so cool!
If you want to see it as soon as it’s published on Youtube…. you can subscribe to my iLoveShelling Youtube channel to always be the first to be notified when I publish a new shelling video. After CLICKING HERE- Just click the red button on the right that says “Subscribe”
So until then… enjoy the gorgeous sunset we saw as we walked back to the car carrying my exshellent treasure.
UPDATE: The video is done and I have another post with more photos … CLICK HERE to see it!
It’s really a shame I’m not a morning person. Everybody assumes since I’m an obsessed sheller that I’m always the first one on the beach every morning. Wrong! I’m a lazy bum in the mornings and I love to sleep in… but there are a few certain occasions I like to see the sunrise. One of those occasions would be a really low morning tide after some nice north winds. That’ll give me a little shove out the door every time.
Every single solitary time I’m on the beach to witness a new day as the sun rises up over a fresh new string of shells with a golden glow… I wish I was a morning person.
It’s the time to see live healthy creatures.
I didn’t even have to touch this SAND DOLLAR to know it was alive. Not only was it dark brown, I could see cilia (or what I call “fur”) lining the outside of its body as well as each of the key hole slits. So beautiful!
This live LIGHTNING WHELK had already done an excellent job of digging itself back into the wet sand to wait for the tide to soon cover him back up completely so I left him alone as well.
My sunrise morning trip to Gulfside City Park Beach to see the beautiful colors of dawn, feel the calmness and to pick up a few treasures was well worth hearing that alarm clock ringing in the dark. But when I think about it, every single time I’m on the beach whether its dawn, mid morning, noon, afternoon, early evening or at dusk… I find something that makes me happy.
A few minutes before I headed home, I admired my loot and realized that I didn’t need to take everything I picked up. So if my biggest decision of the day was to choose which shells made it home with me… life is good today.
Come with me on a shelling trip! CLICK HERE