Archive for Gulf Side City Beach (Algier’s)
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.
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.
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!
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?
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?
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.
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!
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.
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
This is how I found my first HALF-NAKED PEN laying on the beach at Gulfside 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…
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…
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 grew up with my toes in the sand. My whole life has circled around playing on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf Of Mexico so I can’t remember how I learned about tides, currents, sand dunes or how I first learned where to look to find the best shells. I feel like this information was already embedded in my brain the day I was born, so I sometimes assume that other folks that love the beach have this information too. While on our iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa on Saturday, I was asked a perfectly good question from a lovely woman which threw me for a loop…. “Can you explain Shell Lines?”. “Well… they are lines of shells” I said. I often write about wrack lines, shell lines, the surf line and so on because I assume everybody knows what I’m talking about. She said “I was born and raised in land locked U.S. so I’m really not sure exactly where to look”. This was an Aha Moment for me. Ohhhhhh- I’ve never really explained what a wrack line is and how it forms, have I. Since my mind went into a sort of panic, I didn’t even get her name but I wish I could thank her for bringing that to my attention!
So I went to Gulfside City Park this morning at low tide to try to explain the many different ways you can find shells on each different part of the beach. I combed each area of the beach to show how many shell lines, wrack lines and tidal pools can be productive for shelling.
Instead of just taking photos, I shot a video to explain each area and to show what types of shells I found in each area. I hope it makes a little more sense to you and understand how I can get caught up with finding minis and why I love my BEACH BLING so much. It’s a little long, so grab a drink and get relaxed and enjoy the ultimate CYBERSHELLING with me… Oh and PS- You’ll find a few of the shells I found in this video displayed in the first photo on this post. I lost a few in the shuffle like that little tiny sweet “AUGER”. And PS again- that little shell I found under the seaweed and got so excited about isn’t called a PAINTED PERIWINKLE (oops!)… its called a LINED TREE SNAIL.
I may not have collected oodles of empty shells from my stroll along the beach at Gulfside City Park but I had a very merry walk seeing hundreds of very merry live MOLLUSKS thankful to have the shells on their very merry backs.
I continued my very merry stroll seeing very merry ROYAL TERNS basking in the very merry sun….
I’d love to take you on this very merry (and very silly) shelling stroll if you’d like to see these very merry creatures and bask in the very merry sun with me. Enjoy the very merry video….
Okay…. On another note…. I can’t stand keeping this a secret one more minute. There’s one more reason we have been very merry (and very busy) this holiday season.
We have a new baby in the house!
Our sweet Dustie has a new little brother…. 6 month old Rustie (Rusty, RustBall, RustBucket, the Rusters, Rustoleum). Clark wanted a kittie for Christmas so we went to the Lee County Animal Services and Rustie picked Clark… but unfortunately he’s a little sick. Awwwww… it’s that kennel krud. He’s on meds and still doesn’t feel all that great but the our vet says he’ll be just fine. Our new little RustBucket looooves to snuggle so we are enjoying doing everything we can to make him comfortable and happy.
And of course since he’s a Rambo now… he loves shelling too!
Join me on our next iLoveShelling Adventure January 3 or January 8! CLICK HERE for more info…
PS- I’m updating my gallery every day- check it out!
The weekend started with a lovely walk on the wide shell strewn beach at Gulfside City Park where I was pleasantly surprised to bump in to our good friends Dick and Mary. We were all waiting to see how Tropical Storm Karen (churning in the middle of the Gulf Of Mexico) would effect the shelling on our southwest gulf coast. It was still beautiful and calm with lots of bivalves, some OLIVES, MUREXES, SEA BEANS, CONCHS and a few other goodies.
My next stop was Blind Pass Captiva where I saw Donnie (the Shellinator), Alyssa, Holly, Valerie and Michael in the water snorkeling for their treasures. They were having a ball!
Ooooo… pretties! I wish I had gotten a better picture of that ALPHABET CONE next to the SAND DOLLAR. Donnie called it a MeglaCone it’s so huge. LOL
Gerry found tons of shells at Blind Pass on Saturday too. He posted this photo on the iLoveShelling Facebook page. Wowee!!
That big shell mound I showed you last week was dwindling down but there were still a few shells on the beach but most were finding them in the water…
Even at YOLO beach, there were shells lining the calm shoreline. It was a perfect day to rent a wave runner to explore the whole coast of Captiva.
So that brings us to the shells we found this evening around sunset at Blind Pass Sanibel. Clark found a piece of JUNONIA along with some CONCHS and WHELKS…
But the only place we found lots of shells was right in front of the old wooden bulkhead which is now more exposed than I’ve ever seen.
The rest of the beach was wiped clean… all in one afternoon! William and Sarah from Kentucky were not too upset about the shells being taken back out in the water. They said they have been shelling a long time and realize that the beach changes every day. They just started their week long vacation so they are looking forward to the hunt for shells. That’s part of the fun!
This is what Blind Pass Captiva looked like around 6pm tonight. It’s so different from yesterday… and waaaay different than last week with that shell mound. Tropical Storm Karen didn’t bring huge shell piles to our beaches over the weekend but we could still get some effects tomorrow. The beaches will change again tomorrow and the shells have shifted so I look forward to the treasure hunt this week.
The last I saw, Gulfside City Park still has a nice string of shell lining the beach so I might start there tomorrow.
But on Tuesday…. I’m so excited for our treasure hunt on the iLoveShelling Captiva Cruise to Cayo Costa! Wahooo! I hope you can join us to explore the secluded island … for information CLICK HERE
PS- UPDATE: 10-7-13 11:59 am – The winds have changed yet again but this time they are coming from the west and stirring the Gulf up. This is what Blind Pass Captiva is doing now. Mother Nature is fascinating. We should see more shells soon!
Do you love shelling? Ashley loves shelling so much she wants to always be able to look down at her feet to see shells any time of day … wherever she is. So she has seashells tattooed on her foot. I love that! I especially love that because she is the daughter of one of my long time friends from high school, Laura. Laura, Miyuki, Ashley and Ashley’s bestie Ashlyn came to Sanibel for a visit. So of course, we went shelling. There’s nothing better than catching up with friends from the old neighborhood in Virginia while walking the beach in Florida.
They couldn’t get over all of the live and empty shells at GulfSide City Park (for a map CLICK HERE) that are still there.
Not only did they find shells, Ashlyn and Ashley found so many cool pieces of DRIFTWOOD. Ashley’s looks like a dragon head, right?
I know yall are gonna think I’m crazy but I was thrilled when Ashlyn picked up this cool dried out fish head (Gar, maybe?) with all of his teeth in tact then gave it to me. haha I love the weird BEACH BLING! Thanks Ash!
Just like I showed you in February, Miyuki is still taking photos…
Thank you Laura and Miyuki for the blast from the past!
Okay, I’ve got to change the subject just for a sec…. because….
The new 2013 iLoveShelling Calendar is here!!
It’s chock full of your favorite photos and memories of shelling on Sanibel so each day you can see and reminisce about your favorite beach. It even has a QR code on each calendar month so you can scan it with a smart phone to take you to the iLoveShelling post to read the story about the photo. Don’t know about QR codes? If you have a smart phone or iPad, go to the app store and download a QR code reader (I use RedLaser) for free. Then scan away! It’s so much fun!
It’s just in time for Holiday gift giving! To see and buy… CLICK HERE