The Gulf Of Mexico was clear, warm and bright turquoise at Cayo Costa this week for our iLoveShelling shelling adventure with Captiva Cruises. Just ask snorkelers Sue Ellen, Emma, Grace and Jeff from Louisiana.
Hayla, Hope, Linda and Todd from Tennessee were like little fish as they snorkeled the whole time- fun!
But even before we got to the island, California girls Teri and Allana and the whole boat witnessed…
A DOLPHIN show on the way to Cayo Costa…
Up on the beach, Kurt and Beverly from Minnesota were amazed by the JINGLE SHELLS. Kurt said “This should be called Jingle Beach!”.
Beverly showed me her hand filled with JINGLES along with a fave little SEA URCHIN and colorful COCKLE.
So pretty … and it really is “JINGLE BEACH”. They are everywhere! I picked these up in prob less than a minute.
Mother Nature was really playing a hide and seek game with us since the shells were hidden more than usual. We really had to look high and low to find them but Dick and Yvonne from Indiana did a great job finding the larger ones.
Dick said he looked high and low around the tree roots in the water and found this spectacsheller WHELK then walked along the waters edge to find the rest of these beauties.
It was so nice to meet so many awesome shellers like Cutie Shellooties Diane and Joyce from Sarasota. Joyce found a beautiful WHELK (I showed in the first photo) about the same size as Dick’s WHELK – those LIGHTNING WHELKS must have been twins!
Most of the shells (like COCKLES and SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS) Lindy from South Carolina found were at the waters edge as well.
The “Tweezer family” Deb, Judith, Brennan and Ericca came on our cruise too!
Hmmmm…. those tweezers must turn into a magical wand – a Shell Scepter- because Judith was the only who found a BABYS EAR up high on the beach… oh wait… she found 3!
Carla from Pompano, Florida was as tickled as sea punch to find this piece of DRIFTWOOD to hang her orchids in. I couldn’t even get the whole thing in the photo but it looked exactly like a SWORDFISH with a long sharp snout and knot for an eye. Awesome BEACH BLING.
And talk about awesome BEACH BLING… Terry, Sue, Rich and Micki found the coolest treasures…
They were searching in the high tide wrack line and found SEA PEARLS, SEA URCHINS and the funniest sea toys- 2 SHARKS and a Bunny! I told them the story of the LEGO Beach Bling (CLICK HERE) but of course we should always pick up any of these toys even if we don’t keep for our “Kicks and Giggles Jar”.
This is Fintastic Beach Bling!
PS- Be safe everybunny.
Join me on an iLoveShelling Shelling Adventure. For dates and info CLICK HERE
Finding perfectly dried beautiful SEA BISCUITS, URCHINS and fragile shells like RAMS HORNS on the beach is always an exciting experience during our vacations.
We found all of these gems last week on Anegada Island in the British Virgin Islands while combing the white sandy beaches surrounded by light turquoise waters.
Its amazing to me that such lovely and fragile pieces of natural art can be found laying in the sand completely intact and unbroken by the sea. RAM’S HORNS (Spirula spirula– the internal shell of a SQUID- ) are so brittle I’m always afraid they will break in my suitcase when traveling home so I have to plan my packing. (And yes! That’s a HAMBURGER BEAN I found- so excited!)
That’s why choosing a few specimens to bring home gets difficult knowing we have to pack them to survive airport luggage handling and my own klutzy mishaps with carry-ons. I’ve learned through the years, we must get creative in our packaging… use everything we already have. I bought a few Tervis tumbler souvenirs with sippy lids (I told you I was a klutz) so I packed some of our SEA URCHINS in the cup then added RAMS HORNS wrapped in bath tissue to fill the top. The key is to pack a container so that nothing rattles or moves inside the container and nothing can crush it.
Just to make it even more snug, I pushed the cup into Clark’s dive bootie as another layer of cushion. I pushed it all the way down into the foot part of the bootie- it doesn’t take much more room in your luggage that way.
Not one broke!
We always take at least one plastic lidded container with us to our beach destination filled with snacks or something so we will have space in the luggage for treasures on our return trip. This was perfect container to safely travel with SEA BISCUITS and a shellmungus SEA URCHIN Clark found. If you don’t take a container with you, then while on vacation buy chicken or fruit salad for lunch one day and save the plastic container and lid for packing your shells. Choose tubs/cups/containers that won’t crush when you have the lid on them.
Since this wasn’t a small, tight space like the Tervis cups, I wrapped each URCHIN, SEA BISCUIT and bright pink PEN SHELL (Clark filled the inside of the PEN SHELL with tissue as well to keep it from crushing) and other fragiles in the container….
But instead of being excessive with the tissue, I wrapped the larger URCHINS with my sun shirts to give them more padding and to fill the empty spaces so nothing would move inside when I put the lid on it. Make sure you don’t pack it too tightly so it bulges when the top is secure. Wrap a tee shirt around the closed container and made sure that it was in the middle of my luggage with padding around the corners.
I ended up putting a SPECKLED TELLIN pair and a SUNRISE TELLIN pair (Clark’s finds) in with these fragile pieces too… Oh and my SCOTCH BONNET…
They all made it without breaking!
Since I got them home in one piece and they are still a little sandy… now to rinse and clean them. Most of these URCHINS and SEA BISCUITS were already pure white after being bleached out by the sun and sand so all we did is rinse them off while on vacation but didn’t do a great job. It’s a good thing I just wrote instructions for cleaning URCHINS from Sanibel before we left for vacation – for SEA URCHIN cleaning tutorial CLICK HERE.
I still have a few more containers with the tough solid shells and BEACH GLASS we found on our sailing trip in the BVIs so I’ll show my packing job on those for my next post. Until then…
PS- For more tips on packing fragile beach combing treasures for transporting home from your trip…
Low tide isn’t the only game in town when it comes to beach combing. For us, the best time to shell is whenever we have an hour or more of free time. This weekend that free time ended up to be early evening (my fave time of the day) at high tide.
Long walks on the beach are always lovely, but to find sweet little shell treasures along the way… that’s priceless.
I loooove to sort through the high weak line among the SEA WEEDS and SEED PODS… ooooohhh… a SEA PEARL!
And more little beach treasures near the Sanibel Lighthouse…
The beach was Bubblicious! There were thousands of BUBBLE SHELLS lining the beach.
There are always little surprises on the beach whenever you take the time to look … whatever the tide may be.
Coming soon… (just a few more details) and then new Shellabaloo dates!
Do you get excited when you find SEA GLASS? Me too! It’s another beautiful gem most beachcombers love to collect while looking for shells and other BEACH BLING on any walk on any beach. Oddly enough, lots of our friends don’t really get why we travel the world in search of beach treasure… until I tell them we found a honey hole for SEA GLASS. Then their ears perk up! LOL Well, since it’s impossible to bring back enough SEAGLASS in our suitcase for everybody who wants some from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba… here is a CYBERSHELLING (CYBER-SEAGLASSING) photo from last week’s adventure on Glass Beach in Gtmo (CLICK HERE for the history of this SEAGLASS). Just click on the next photo to enlarge it so you can find your own SEA GLASS. Fun! Then I’ll show you some of the other cool BLING we found.
In my last post (CLICK HERE), I showed you some of the beautiful shells and areas we combed but couldn’t really explain how much fun Clark, me, Lee and Susan had picking through the high tide dry wrack lines in search of Bling. See that incredible SEA FAN Susan found? Un-beee-liev-able!
I just loooove me some Bling! I’m trying to identify all of the different SEA URCHINS we found but it is not so easy. I’ll try to get close up photos of each one but oh lawd, I need more time. So … I’m almost positive we have…. WEST INDIAN SEA EGGS, VARIEGATED URCHINS, LONG-SPINED URCHINS, CLUB-SPINED URCHINS, ROCK-BORING URCHINS and SEA BISCUITS. We could have picked up hundreds of the CLUB-SPINED SEA URCHINS that had probably gotten tossed up by a storm weeks before. They were in the highest wrack line and completely dried and preserved. Cool!
We also brought home SEA HEARTS, HAMBURGER BEANS (SEA BEANS), a few pieces of CORAL, 2 small SEA FANS, a few VERTEBRAE, PURPLE CRAB shells (haven’t looked them up yet), OPERCULUMS, old turquoise CUBAN TILES and… you see that piece of striped POTTERY on the bottom right? Lee told me that piece probably dates back to the Spanish- American war era circa 1898. Amazing, right?
Lee found these pieces of POTTERY from the same era. Wow- Its almost a complete plate! He said he will donate some of the pieces to the base for history and environmental research. (Errrr…. my piece came home with me- it’s way too cool! heehee)
Talk about cool… I found two complete old Cuban Hatuey beer GLASS BOTTLES made in the 1950s. These were so popular, Bacardi is now making this beer again.
More awesome BLING on the beach! Lee found this WWII US Navy uniform button while he was picking through the rock and pebbles looking for SEAGLASS like in the CYBERSHELLING pic. Whoot Whoot!
Let me show you just a few more shell photos before I sign out for the day…. Clark found these spectasheller THORNY OYSTERS that haven’t even been really cleaned up yet. They are gorgeous. We find these in SW Florida but most times they are only fragments.
Here’s the interior of one…
Lee found the mac daddy of the THORNY OYSTERS- it’s huge and with some good spines…. Both sides!
It was completely packed with hard mud and limestone so it will take a little work to get this baby cleaned up but it will be well worth it. It’s a beauty!
I always think these are so funny…. the BLEEDING TOOTH. Shall I say more?
These are some of my favorite minis we found this trip… BEADED MITERS.
Clark was excited (and me too) to find this HEXAGONAL MUREX since we’ve never found one before.
It’s always a thrill to find a new shell!
Again, we have to thank Lee and Susan for sponsoring us, being our shelling guides and letting us share this extraordinary place with everybody to learn what types of shells we can all find in the other Caribbean Islands. We are forever grateful.
I will get more shells cleaned up and photographed soon but the FLAME HELMETS are so shellsational, I had to add show you these before I go out and hit my home beach. It was fabulous finding shells in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba but it’s always so wonderful to be back home on Sanibel Island… especially with a cool evening low tide. Have a nice weekend!
Life has been hustling and bustling with holiday festivities so to sink my toes in the sand yesterday was heaven on earth. Just to breath the sea air and hear the water lapping on the shore gave me the peace I needed. I had no expectations to find any rare collectables but the actual combing of the beach is what I knew I needed. Ahhhhh. Mother Nature always seems to give me the perfect gift of the sea. Yesterday’s gift was a handful of SEA PEARLS!
A few weeks ago, I had a local fella who grew up on Sanibel come to the house to fix a few things. As soon as he saw my little “dish” of SEA PEARLS, he started laughing and told me those “Hot Rocks” brought back funny memories of his boyhood life growing up on the island. He said they would rub the SEA BEANS back and forth at a fast pace on the sidewalk, jeans, wood or just about anything to get those PEARLS hot as the dickens. Then they would touch the “Hot Rock” on the skin of their unsuspecting victim to shock them with heat. LOL Boys will be boys! Thank goodness, they aren’t hot enough to do any damage other than the other boys ego after screaming like a “girl”. hahah Okay, yes, I tried it just to see how hot is gets. It’s just hot enough to give a little startle….but I see why it was a kids game on the island. I’ve heard them called “Burn Beans”, “Hot Beans” and “Burner Seeds” but that was the first time I heard them called “Hot Rocks”- thanks Paul!
Want to find a few SEA PEARLS too? Then talk a walk with me at the Lighthouse Beach by clicking the next image… [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5JREIahbeM[/youtube]
PS- I know that little rope bracelet looks a little ratty now but I can’t bring myself to take it off because I still love it too much and it still makes me very happy. I wrote about it in May… “While on our trip to Thailand, we were blessed by a Monk who wrapped this string with a knot around our wrists. I was told it was called a “spiritual line” and we are to wear it until it falls off and not to cut it off. It is for good luck, good health and to remind us every day that today is special so live it that way. I immediately thought of those strings I used to tie around my finger to remind me to do something. So every day now when I look at this string on my wrist I am reminded that today is a gift.”
I couldn’t be happier to have another Shelling Sister that just moved to Sanibel! I feel like I’ve found my long lost Soul Sister… Susan. Of course she wanted to get the whole shelling experience on the Out Islands of Sanibel…. so before I knew it, she hired Capt. Brian Holaway for a shelling trip and she invited me to go along. Weehoo! First trip with Capt Brian!
We left the dock at 8 am but unfortunately the tide was too high to find good shells at that time so Capt Brian took us about an hour north to the beautiful town of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island to show Susan a few landmarks by golf cart.
We saw the Gasparilla Island Light…
We went to the Boca Grande Historical Society…
Brian’s friend Kim showed us fossils and artifacts on display at the sweet little museum…
We went to the Port Boca Grande Light…
Then we hit the beach!
Where we sifted for SHARK’S TEETH…
Susan found a few FOSSILS like SHARK’S TEETH, fragments of STINGRAY BARBS and BONES.
Along one of the beach paths we found a NICKERBEAN VINE with the prickly sea pods that host SEA BEANS which wash up on the beaches at times.
These local gray drift seeds are called SEA PEARLS. So… now we know where they come from!
I found a few WHITE MELAMPUS shells that were only 1/2 inch to 3/4…
But Susan found the grandpappy WHITE MELAMPUS weighing in at about 1 and 1/2 inches.
UPDATE 6-21-12 – Susan H commented on Soul Sister Susan’s WHITE MELAMPUS saying “it looks as if Susan found a World Record Size (WRS) one. I’m serious, the largest size listed on Malacolog is 27 mm, which is just about an inch“.
So I got serious and dug through drawers of Clark’s dad old tools he inherited and found some very cool old calipers. Susan brought her shell over and we measured….
Her WHITE MELAMPUS measured in at 30 mm. A World Record Size shell!! Thank you Susan H for giving us a heads up on this exciting news!
I found a bivalve shell (it has a small hole in the top but it’s still pretty) that I didn’t recognize so after looking through all of my books… it looks like it’s a JUVENILE SOUTHERN QUAHOG. It has thin raised ridges that seem too delicate to be called a QUAHOG but I’m sure that’s what it is.
When we got back to the dock at McCarthy’s Marina, the MANATEES were waiting for us!
We couldn’t have asked for a prettier day so thank you sooo much Soul Sister Susan for letting me tag along and to Captain Brian for guiding our gorgeous day.
PS- Just if you are wondering…. Yes! Super Sheller Clark helped Soul Sister Susan and her beautiful family find their island home in paradise. (I know, shameless plug …but hey, do you blame me?)