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

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The ShellHolder

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Broad-Ribbed Cardita, Fish of Florida, Ponderous Ark, Sea Whip, Snook | 20 comments

Cardita seashells in a sandy palm on Sanibel Island

The beaches of Sanibel and Captiva have been gorgeous this week with plenty of sunshine and warm breezes. But shelling has been hit or miss… to some people. In the past few days, I’ve been asked countless times “Where are the shells?”. That’s hard for me to answer since I saw this at Gulfside City Park beach today…

shells and waves make awesome days

Uhmmmm. Those look like shells to me?  There weren’t many WHELKS, TULIPS or CONES but this is how I look at it… if JUNONIAS and ALPHABET CONES were washing up on the beach every day, we would never see or learn about anything else that washes up on the beach. It would be nice at first seeing an ALPHABET soup of JUNONIAS but after a while it would kinda get old to people who come to the island every year. We do that with FIGHTING CONCHS at times. There’s no denying FIGHTING CONCHS are gorgeous shells but if you already collected 10 of them, you start to look for something else. So I always look forward to the days that make me slow down to look more closely to the shells I normally don’t “see”. Today I saw BROAD-RIBBED CARDITA shells. BROAD RIBBED CARDITAS are always on our beaches. I mean ALWAYS… but most of them have been sun bleached or worn so they look like lots of the other white BIVALVES. They are one of the most common shells in Southwest Florida but today they caught my eye because they were so colorful. Each one has a different color range of orange with some having stripes and some look like polka dots. Beauty is in the eye of the shell holder. These would be great craft shells for frames!

cardita shell carditamera floridana Sanibel

Anyway, there were a few other sweet shells out there too…

beach finds on Sanibel's Gulfside City Park beach

I also saw oodles of SEA WHIPS attached to PONDEROUS ARKS in the high tide wrack line. Most of the SEA WHIPS have lost their pretty yellow or purple colors and all that’s left is the black stem left attached to the ARK shell but this one still has a small portion of the golden yellow color still left on the stem like a sheath. Why do SEA WHIPS only seem to like to attach themselves to PONDEROUS ARKS? Of course I have a theory (I always have a theory whether its right or not- heehee). PONDEROUS ARKS have that wonderful thick black PERIOSTRACUM (skin) and they have wide ribs so SEA WHIPS have something pretty substantial to anchor themselves to. Most shells don’t have either of those features so it makes perfect sense to me, how about you? (To see a PONDEROUS ARK CLICK HERE)

ponderous ark with sea whip attached

Yes, those CARDITAS were pretty orange but this LETTERED OLIVE was my fave find of the day.

olive shell on the beach with sea foam

Oh wait- I take that back! This 33 inch, 15 pound SNOOK was my fave find of the day! I love everything there is to do on the beach and fishing is just one more thing I think is very cool. Just like shelling, you just never know what you’re gonna find. Some days you catch the big one and some days its just a nice excuse to be out in the sunshine.

pam rambo with Sanibel snook fish fishing

Errrrrr…..Okay, I’ll fess up. This is kinda a fish tale…. “my fave find” was actually caught by a guy named Steve but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that beautiful fish. I “found” it in Steve’s hands. Hahahaha. i Love Fishing too so next time I wanna reel one in!

Hey, Dont forget… Monday March 16, 2015 – Congress Jewelers are showcasing my Shellography with a wine and cheese gallery reception from 11am- 3pm. I’d love to meet y’all! Bring your fave finds in if you want me to ID them.

canvas shellography congress reception

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High West Winds Bring In Seashells and Sea Squirts To Sanibel Beaches

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Sea Fan, Sea Pork, Sea Squirts, Sea Whip, Starfish | 28 comments

fighting conch sanibel november

These are the beautiful treasures we are used to seeing on Sanibel after strong winds from the Gulf Of Mexico.

gulfside city park beach shells november

Brittany (Georgia) and her dad Steve (Kentucky) found plenty of BANDED TULIPS, LIGHTNING WHELKS, LETTERED OLIVES and APPLE MUREXES at Gulfside City Park beach yesterday.

brittany atl steve ky shelling

The weird thing? Those SEA SQUIRTS are back again by the gazillions – just like in September at Blind Pass like I showed you in the post Sanibel Sea Squirt Spectacle.

sea squirts on sanibel gscp

But this time there were more shells mixed in with them. Look at those beautiful shells Clark found! He found that awesome ALPHABET CONE  within 10 minutes of wading in the water. He said all of these shells were found by blind scooping in the water with his trusty shelling backhoe.

found shells

We found unbelievably huge SEA PORK chunks all over the beach as well. SEA PORK is a TUNICATE as well so its in the same family as the SEA SQUIRTS.

orange sea pork sanibel november

There were quite a few baby STARFISH along the shore line as well. This little one was still alive so I put it back in the water for a chance of survival.

starfish on dosinia


Clark showed me another huge glob of SEA PORK. Wowza! They are so pretty when they are this bright orange. Im not sure if its true, but I read somewhere that if SEA PORK has a bright color like this to it, it is still alive (well, the zooids that live inside might be still alive). So this one went back in the water.

orange sea pork tunicate

I found plenty of PURPLE SEA WHIPS but I dint find any that had the ONE TOOTH SIMNIAS or WINGED OYSTERS on them.

purple sea whip

I’ve never seen so many different types of SPONGES washed up…

different colors of sponges sanibel


This was probably the biggest and most perfect DEAD MANS FINGER sponge Ive ever seen.

dead man fingers sponge sanibel

There were even other weird TUNICATES hiding within the SEA PORK and SPONGES. This one was a little more gooey but had bright orange lobes just like some of the other SEA PORK TUNICATES. After such high winds, its so interesting to see all of the different plants and creatures that get washed up on our beaches. It’s like our own private touch tank – I love it!

soft orange sanibel tunicate

The rewards are even greater when we uncover little beauties like these to admire.

november 2014 sanibel shells


Dont forget to register for our iLoveShelling 5 year Shellaversary! You could win 5 Nights Stay at Island Inn! CLICK HERE

iLoveShelling 5 shellaversary iis

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Lion’s Paws Found After Beach Renourishment

Posted by on Jan 2, 2014 in Atlantic Wing Oyster, Cabrit's Murex, Carrier Shell, Junonia, One-Tooth Simnia, Oyster, Sea Whip, Tolin Wentletrap | 40 comments

find lions paws Sanibel florida bp

It’s already a spectacsheller 2014! My dear friend Ellen found not just one LIONS PAW at Blind Pass Sanibel… but she found two LION’S PAWS!

elphie with lions paws bp sanibel

We walked passed that sand bar area that I’ve shown you in my last couple of posts towards Bowman’s Beach where they just finished the beach renourishment project. Remember I showed you that old wooden jetty that was newly exposed last year? Well, it’s all covered up again and filled in with fresh new sand that was pumped in from the deep waters off shore in the Gulf Of Mexico. So I’m assuming that these came in with the sand since both of them are so incredibly perfect. I want to show you the interior of this LIONS PAW so you can be on the lookout as well. I was right there with her shelling and I didn’t see either of them… I missed them both! She picked them up right after I looked in the same spot. LOL All I saw were oodles of KITTENS PAW and CALICO SCALLOPS (you know I love both of them so I was already mesmerized- hahaha) It just goes to show you, there are enough shells for everybody in southwest Florida since we all see different things while shelling on the beach. I think Im going to have to call her Shellen instead of Ellen from now on. heehee She’s got the LIONS PAW eye for sure! Shellzam! Congratshellations, Shellen!

interior lions paw sanibel florida

Clark was shelling just at the water’s edge with his shelling backhoe when he scooped up these beauties. Can you believe it? He found a CABRITS MUREX too! This one is pretty beat up but still… its a rare find for Sanibel. Again, prob from the beach renourishment. I haven’t gotten to a chance to see if that FLAT SCALLOP near his thumb will clean up well but its a beauty along with that bright orange CHESTNUT TURBAN.

clark shells bp sanibel after beach renourishmnet

Shellen has an eye for LIONS PAWS, Super Sheller Clark has an eye ALPHIES and I seem to have an eye for finding CARRIER SHELLS.

carrier shell sanibel bp after beach renourishment

I also have an eye for WENTLETRAPS. As you can see in the next photo, all the way as far as you can see in the background, is a palm tree sticking up. That’s about 200 yards from the Blind Pass bridge (guestimate of course) so this is how far we walked to find our loot. Now look how far I was from the water and in that sparse shell line, I found what I believe is a TOLIN WENTLETRAP. I’ve found lots of different species of WENTLETRAPS (CLICK HERE for a line up of them) but this one looked different from the others so in my humble opinion, I think it’s a TOLIN.

tolin wentletrap Epitonium tollini bp sanibel

But honestly, I got more excited about this beautiful piece of BEACH BLING I found. It’s a purple SEA WHIP with a few cool hitchhikers! Click on the photo to enlarge to see if you can find them too before I tell you what they are.

purple sea whip with simnia winged oysters

Did you find the ATLANTIC WING OYSTER? So cool, right?

atlantic wing oyster attached to sea whip

But wait, there’s another tiny baby WING OYSTER too! Can you see it?

juvenile wing oyster on sea whip sanibel

And then I spotted a ONE TOOTH SIMNIA on this same SEA WHIP! It’s camouflaged but look closely…

one tooth simnia attached to sea whip sanibel

Shell Boom Bah! There are two ONE TOOTH SIMNIAS! Click this next photo to see both of them. Then go back and see if you can find both WING OYSTERS and both ONE TOOTH SIMNIAS in the first full size pic of the SEA WHIP. I know its weird but I felt like I had won the lotto. LOL This is why I love shelling so much. There are always magnificent hidden treasures on the beach… you just have to find the treasures that make you happy.

one tooth simnia Simnialena uniplicata on sea whip

I have one more photo to show you… I am so stinkin happy for my buddy Kaybe from The Essential Beachcomber!
She finally found her JUNONIA! She posted this on iLoveShelling Facebook page… “I’m making progress. Went from finding a little tip last week to an almost whole junonia this morning at Boca Grande. It was all wrapped up in some seaweed on the wrack line.” Exshellent!

karen kaybe junonia

Join me on a Shelling Adventure! For more info CLICK HERE

shelling adventures trips by pam

pam rambo art gallery iloveshelling


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Tiny Sea Urchins And Beach Bling At Lighthouse Beach

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Channeled Duck Clam, Dosinia, Duck Clam, Pen Shell, Sailor's Ear Channeled Duck Clam, Saw-Tooth Pen Shell, Sea Whip, Spider Crab, Stiff Pen Shell, Variegated Sea Urchin | 36 comments

smaller sea urchin sanibel beach bling

SEA URCHINS! I haven’t seen SEA URCHINS washed up on our shores in quite a while… much less cutie itty bitty ones like this.

small size sea urchin sanibel island florida

I found dried tiny ones with spines as well…

tiny dried sea urchin sanibel beach

Normally if SEA URCHINS still have their spines in tact I would assume they were still alive and put them back in the water. But I found these in the highest wrack line at Lighthouse Beach. They had been cast on shore by those rough waves from the high winds last week with the high tide and got caught in the “sea weeds” then left for days to dry out. They look like the gumballs that the Sweetgum trees drop in the winter up north, dont they? LOL

sea urchin gum balls sanibel florida

I normally don’t get so excited to collect PEN SHELLS (since we see them so often on our beaches) but I rarely see perfectly intact baby STIFF PEN SHELLS (on the left of my hand) and SAW TOOTH PENS SHELLS especially with no BARNACLES or SLIPPER SHELLS attached to them. They are so cute!

stiff pen shell saw tooth pen shell

See how thick this wrack line was? Some people in other parts of the world might think this was an ugly site on a beach… but not me and most beach combers. This is a haven for shells and BEACH BLING for beach combers and for wildlife as well. Thick wrack lines like this packed with all sort of vegetation and other sealife are so important for our beach ecosystem. They provide food for birds and other wildlife as well as providing a layer to trap sand  for less erosion. They become incubators for dunes!

macro algae cast on shore Sanibel Island Florida

But… Just to make sure this seaweed was a natural occurrence without being harmful, I asked my friend and director of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) Dr. Eric Milbrandt if he knew what types of matter had washed ashore. Of course he did! He said “There were 8 species from collections at Moonshadows beach and the Lighthouse beach. Many of the specimens had intact holdfasts and given the recent > 1 m wave heights, were likely attached and cast on shore. Many of these species are found at nearshore hardbottom areas (the same areas that produce many of the mollusc shells) whose abundance peaks in Nov.”  He also reported that most of these species of seaweed (macroalgae) were common on all coasts. Thank you Dr. Milbrandt!

macro algae wrack line on Sanibel island Florida beach

Along with the PEN SHELLS and SEA URCHINS tucked away in all that seaweed, Clark and I found hundreds of double DOSINIAS…

disk dosinias sanibel lighthouse beach florida

And a very cool completely intact dried (and non-stinky!) SPIDER CRAB…

spider crab on sea whip sanibel florida october

Clark found a double SAILORS EAR (CHANNELED DUCK CLAM) without any cracks. It’s funny, we rarely find them on the beach with both sides intact because they are just so dang delicate…

double sailors ear shell sanibel beach

I haven’t gotten a good dose of combing through cool BEACH BLING in a while so I was in haaaawg heaven. There were oodles of little micro shells, SEA WHIPS and other goodies so I could (and did) walk for miles and miles getting lost in discovering the fascinating gifts that Mother Nature leaves us on our beaches.

shells urchins sea whips crabs sanibel florida

dosina shell with tiny sea urchin sanibel florida

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Shell ‘N Tell At Shellabaloo 2

Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Alphabet Cone, Atlantic Giant, Cockle, Conch, Cone, Horse Conch, Kitten's Paw, One-Tooth Simnia, Sea Whip, Shark's Eye Operculum, Shark's Teeth, Shellabaloo, Shellabaloo 2, ShellingAdventures, Tusk Shell | 31 comments

Michele Junonia Sanibel Bill

After you enjoy feeling the excitement of finding shells on the beach, you get to enjoy the excitement all over again when you show them to someone else that “gets” what you found and knows how you feel. That’s why our Shellabaloo 2 “Shell ‘N Tell” was one of my favorite days of the whole week during Shellabaloo. Do you see what Michele (Ohio) is holding in her hand in the first photo with her husband Bill? She found a JUNONIA! But that’s not it… she found what she calls “The Trifecta!”… A large HORSE CONCH and a large WHELK along with her JUNONIA. Do you think she was a happy girl or what! So happy for you Michele!

michele trifecta seashells

Here are some of her other finds (minus the JUNONIA since she was showing it to the others when I took this) …

seashells found sw florida shellabaloo 2

For the week of Shellabaloo 2, I made up another Shellinger Hunt. The hunt is really meant to just have fun learning about different shells and not to overlook some of the common shells like JINGLES and KITTENS PAWS because…. well… because I think they are beautiful too! So you will see some of the displays with a dozen JINGLES in a COCKLE SHELL because that was point for the Shellinger Hunt. It wasn’t about who could find and take the most shells off the beach- it was all about enjoying the shells that were found… and some bigger points for finding things like The Sanibel Six or finding the rarer shells. It was so much fun to see these shellers find shells they’ve never found before and to rediscover the ones that can easily be overlooked.

shellinger hunt dustie

On our last day, I asked everybody to bring their fave finds and/or their entries for the Shellinger Hunt at our home base at Island Inn so we could all see what everybody else was collecting. We set up tables for each person to display their shells and it turned out to be a mini Sanibel Shell Show!

Shellabaloo 2 Shell and Tell show

Terri (NY) made a beee-uuuteeeful display of her favorite finds.

Terri seashells shellabaloo

Lee and Susan (Cuba) narrowed down their favorite finds on a cooler tray for the Shellinger Hunt…

Lee Susan shell display

Of course I added a BEACH BLING category on the hunt ( i Love the BLING!) so it’s so funny they added a dried up fish tail that looks just like a MERMAID and a washed up fishing bobber as the faves in that category. LOL

lee susan shellabaloo shellinger hunt

Rick (Texas) brought a plate of his fave shells… the miniature shells. I just love how everybody organized their shells so creatively!

Rick miniature shells favorite

rick miniature shells sanibel

Rick’s wife Murfy showed her faves along with her favorite vintage shell book…

Murfy seashell display

There is one shell in the middle of the others that is a little different. It looks like some sort of a TURITELLA… which I dont think is native to this area. I think it is either a FOSSIL shell that found it’s way to the gulf on a high tide from sidewalk fill or it was left over from a party or wedding after someone bought shells to decorate with. Hmmmm.

Murfy seashell display shellabaloo 2

If there was a prize for being creative…  Sharene and Tom (Ontario) would have won for creativity!

sharene tom shellabaloo shells

seashells display shellabaloo 2 sharpen tom

Rusty and Donna (Apopka, FL) narrowed down the favorites and of course it included an ALPHABET CONE and the SEA WHIP that had the ONE-TOOTH SIMNIAS I showed you in the first Shellabaloo 2 post.

Rusty Donna seashells shellinger hunt shellabaloo

rusty donna seashell shellabaloo hunt

Roger (MO) told me that his favorite shells were the minis he found at Lighthouse Beach. It was his first time finding WENTLETRAPS, RICE OLIVES and TUSKS so it was really fun to find something new.

roger shells shellabloo shellinger hunt

roger shells shellabloo

Margie (AL) is so adorable! Her favorite shell was the PONDEROUS ARK because she loved the black PERIOSTICUM (the shell’s “skin”) on the white shell so that’s all she collected. She is going to make a black and white frame for a mirror when she gets home so I hope we get to see it!

Margie shells for mirror

Ponderous ark shells sanibel shellinger hunt

Cutie Pie Becka needed her own table to make room for all of her newly found treasures.

Becka shells shellinger hunt

Kendra (IN) had a sweet organized display of her favorites but also for the Shellinger Hunt.

Kendra shellinger hunt sanibel

She was so afraid she was going to lose her first TUSK SHELL so she wrapped half of a bandaid around it so she would know where it was (on the blue plate). LOL

kendra seashells shellabaloo

Pat (Boca Raton, FL) had an amazing display of shells and BLING for the Shellinger Hunt.

pat shells shellabaloo shellinger hunt

While I was oooohing and aaaahing at all of her finds, she pointed out a piece of BEACH BLING that she wanted to know what it was. Whoa! Pat! You found the OPERCULUM to the SHARKS EYE! Clark just found our first ones just last month so I was absolutely thrilled for her that… A) she saw it and picked it up… and B) that she knew it was something special to show at the Shell And Tell. See why I love these shellers? Who else would think this thing on the beach was cool…

moon shells sharks eye operculum

pat shellinger hunt shellabaloo treasures

Speaking of awesome shellers, unfortunately, Gina couldn’t come to the Shell ‘N Tell but I still have to show you one of her exshellent finds… Gina found a yellow SEA WHIP. We find the purple ones a little more often but not the perfect yellow ones like hers. And no, I couldnt get her photo either because she was a little camera shy but Ha! I took a “long-arm shot” with me in it so we could get her picture and the SEA WHIP. LOL    And yep, you guessed it! There were two ONE-TOOTH SIMNIAS on it!

gina pam yellow sea whip

I have found yellow SEA WHIPS before but never one with the yellow ONE-TOOTH SIMINAS on it. Yahoo! Gina did! Such a treasure!

yellow sea whip one tooth simnia

Okay back to the Shell ‘N Tell with the rest of the awesomeness…. Here’s Cindy with her huge HORSE CONCH I showed you in my last post! Now you can see all of the other fabulous shells she found as well.

cindy shells shellabaloo shellinger hunt

She also found a big ALPHABET CONE …which is part of 2 sets of The Sanibel Six for her Shellinger Hunt finds. She found a FLORIDA CONE to make her other set. And look at all of the SHARKS TEETH!

shellinger hunt cindy shells shellabaloo 2

Okay… It’s time to announce the winner of the Shell And Tell and you won’t believe this prize! The winning sheller went home with a silver JINGLE SHELL necklace made by Sealife By Congress. It is beautiful! This new Sanibel jewelry store in Periwinkle Place Shopping Center is filled with seashells, SEAHORSES, DOLPHINS, STARFISH, SAND DOLLARS and every other sea life in gold, silver and with tasteful gemstones as well. I was thrilled they wanted to give our winner this perfect shell necklace.

Sealife By Congress jingle necklace

After much laughter and ado, we narrowed the winners down to Michele (with her JUNONIA and  HORSE CONCH) and Cindy with her HORSE CONCH based on their points score…

shellabaloo 2 shell winners

Before we announce the winner, Cindy and Michele clicked their CONCHS as if it was a toast. Cute and so much fun!

cindy michele conch shells

Drum Roll Please! …. wait for it…… The winner is Michele! Her JINGLE necklace is perfect for her! Congratshellations, my friend!

pam rambo michele winner necklace jingle

 I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun both Shellabaloo 1 (in January) and this Shellabaloo 2  have been since it really brings amazing people together with not just shelling in common but we all seem to be like-minded in so many other ways. It’s quite a bonding experience, I must say. Thank you Island Inn for hosting such a great Shellapalooza. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know when the next one will be- no dates of been set yet for this 4 day Shellathon but as soon as we’ve come up with a plan, you will be the first to know.

But wait!  I’m gathering a group of shellers for an afternoon of shelling at Cayo Costa next Sunday May 19 from 1-4pm on a Captiva Cruise. Join us! CLICK HERE for more info or call 239-472-5300 and ask to come along for the next iLoveShelling cruise!

seashell shelling adventures pam

Shellabaloo 2 seashell pile captiva

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Beach Bling Clinging To Wing Oyster

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Atlantic Wing Oyster, Sea Whip | 18 comments

Pteria colymbus wing oyster juvenile

I found more shells clinging to SEA WHIPS! This time I found quite a few ATLANTIC WING OYSTERS  hitch hiking on those beautiful SEA WHIPS I talked about on my last post.

wing oyster juvenile

Notice how pearlescent the inside is! I didn’t want to break the two valves apart but you can peek in to see the beauty.

inside atlantic wing oyster

I found quite a few of these attached to the SEA WHIPS I found in the BEACH BLING last month.

sea  shell in sea whip

I know, this WING OYSTER doesn’t look that pretty hanging on to this gorgeous purple WHIP but he would definitely clean up nicely if I chose to untangle him.

wing oyster attached to fan

I’m just always amazed at what I’ve overlooked before.

sea whip wing oyster

I didn’t find all of these on the beach in the last month. I looked through some of my other SEA WHIPS I collected through the years and low and behold… I didn’t even realized I had perfect specimens of ATLANTIC WING OYSTERS wrapped up in my WHIPS.

atlantic wing oyster sea whip

I can’t believe I can’t find the photo (sorry!) …. but at the 75th Sanibel Shell Fair and Show this year there was a display of an ATLANTIC WING OYSTER still attached to a SEA WHIP. I kind of laughed to myself because at first it looked like a dirty purple SEA FAN with some junk not washed off. Then I put on my cheater glasses to look at the display. Cool! A WING OYSTER treasure! I love it- I learn something new every day.

Pteria columbus with gorgonian

After looking closely at the larger double shells, you’ll be able to see that both the sides don’t match. The two valves are completely different sizes and even the shape is different too.

atlantic wing oyster pearl color

You might not think these shells are pretty enough to toss in your shell bag, but at least when you see those SEA WHIPS, you might be able to find a little hidden treasure that most other people would pass right by and never see.

atlantic wing oyster

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