Have you ever wondered what are the most common seashells that wash up on Sanibel? We see them every day on the beach but all of those “little white CLAM shells” start to look the same and we tend to look over all of them in search for our favorites like the TULIPS and WHELKS.
If you have shelled the beaches of Southwest Florida several times, then you might not be surprised to hear…
The 6 most common shells found in beach drift on Sanibel, Florida are:
TRANSVERSE ARK (Anadara transversa), CROSS-BARRED VENUS (Chione elevata), PONDEROUS ARK (Noetia ponderosa), KITTENS PAW (Plicatula gibbosa), COQUINA (Donax variabilis) and the JINGLE (Anomia simplex).
They look pretty familiar don’t they?
The TRANSVERSE ARK (Anadara transversa) seashells are literally everywhere on our beaches and this is why it’s hard to find any other shell on the beach because we get so overwhelmed by looking at so many of these “little white clams shells”.
CROSS-BARRED VENUS (Chione elevata) shells always intrigue me because they have so many different interior colors.
PONDEROUS ARK (Noetia ponderosa) normally looks like just a bigger version of the TRANSVERSE ARK but when they are juveniles, it is really hard to tell the difference. Closely looking at the interior is the only way to decipher the juvie PONDEROUS from the adult TRANSVERSE.
KITTENS PAW (Plicatula gibbosa) – How can you walk on a beach in Sanibel and not smile when you see one of these?
COQUINA (Donax variabilis) shells have stolen the hearts of most of us the first time we walked on the beach and saw these sweet little butterfly shells scattered along the beach.
JINGLE (Anomia simplex) shells are like shimmering little beacons calling out from the sand- love them.
So how do I know that these are the most common shells on Sanibel? Well, because Susan Hewitt (our Susan H !) did a comprehensive but simple research study of the most abundance shell species while she was visiting Sanibel in 2011. She took loads of samples all along West Gulf Drive to separate and count each species. (This was not her sample bag in this next photo- she had buckets full)
I helped with her study by scooping up shells for her shell material research on the beach at Blind Pass Sanibel.
I also took samples at Sanibel’s Lighthouse beach for her.
After identifying, separating and counting every single shell collected, she got to work on writing her paper. To read her entire study paper, CLICK HERE
So now we know! It was so much fun being involved in her very cool project to answer the question asked about our beaches of Southwest Florida “What are the most common shells on Sanibel?”. Thanks Susan H for this awesome report!
I spied thousands of ARKS at Gulfside City Park on Sanibel Island this morning. Most days you can find TRANSVERSE ARKS scattered along the beach since they are one of the most common shells on Sanibel.
There are a few different species of ARKS so let me show you the difference. Top row left to right- a MOSSY ARK and a TURKEY WING. Bottom row left to right- CUT-RIBBED ARK, TRANSVERSE ARK and a PONDEROUS ARK.
It’s a little easier to identify bivalves and see the difference (and the likeness) between them by looking at the interior of the shell.
I only had a few minutes to walk the beach today so I just wanted to look for minis in some of the wrack lines I pointed out the other day in my Shelling 101 video. I found TUSK SHELLS (there were thousands of those too), a KEYHOLE LIMPET, WENTLETRAPS, CERITHS, AUGERS, a TURRID, juvie CONCHS, juvie OLIVE, and a piece of CORAL.
I also found a somewhat beat up LINEATE DOVE SNAIL.
If you need any help identifying any of these shells, check out my Seashells Identification Page…
As I walked this morning, I couldn’t help but notice this amazing village sand sculpture on the beach- with its own arena and swimming pool. I was inspired to write about ARK SHELLS because so many artists like to use these sweet little white shells as embellishments for their pieces of art- just like this beach artist did. ARKS are perfect decorations for so many projects. Inspiring!
The holiday season is in full swing on Sanibel and Captiva islands so I have been a busy little elf! First of all, I’d like to introduce the brand new i Love Shelling 2012 Calendar chock full of beautiful Sanibel photos and of course our beloved seashells. Now you can enjoy shelling 12 months of the year!
Here’s a sneak peak of January’s sunset photo and CLICK HERE to see all 12 months and get one for yourself or as a gift for your shelling buddy.
We also hit the beaches this week to find a few shells and lots of Beach Bling. We found big old WHELK and CONCH pieces I love for yard shells along with a few SEA WHIPS, LONG SPINED SEA URCHINS, PURPLE SEA URCHINS, PEN SHELLS, CRAB SHELLS and this little BRITTLE STAR too.
There were lots of DOSINIAS mixed in with hundreds of SAILORS EARS and TRANSVERSE ARKS…
I even saw a few bones scattered along the beach. These are from bait in the crab traps in the gulf that get tossed around in rough surf.
STONE CRABS are what lots of those traps are made to catch. When fishermen bring in the traps, they only take one claw from a STONE CRAB since the claws have the best meat. They throw the crab back without killing it because they know the crab can eat and defend itself with only one claw until another claw grows back. Here is a STONE CRAB claw lying on the beach that could have been a good appetizer if it had been freshly caught. Darn!
There were HORSESHOE CRABS too …
And a BLUE CRAB…
I also saw this MOON SHELL (SHARK’S EYE) EGG COLLAR…
I met a wonderful local man Frank, who moved here in 1964 and still loves to walk the beaches and pick up shells especially with his daughter Connie. He told me he was 87 but he looks like he is no older than 72! Thank you Frank for your service for our country in WW2.
Here are some of the mini shells Frank and Connie collected when I saw them along Middle Gulf Drive.
I also have photos of the yesterday’s oh-so-fun Captiva Holiday Village golf cart parade. Here’s one picture of our Junonia Jalopy but I’ll have to show you the rest tomorrow. It was a blast! All of the other cart were so darn cute!
Check out my new tee shirt! I wore my new “Oh CONE All Ye Faithful” Christmas design v-neck tee. I got so many compliments- so much fun ! And don’t forget to check out the 2012 i Love Shelling Calendar too….. and the new online i Love Shelling Shop….. Or the fun faves at Shelling Shop. You see? I’ve been a little Santa’s helper for the good seashell loving girls and boys. Ho Ho Ho!
How could anyone think KITTENS PAWS aren’t cute? It was like it had rained KITTEN’S PAWS yesterday since there were so many on the beach at Blind Pass Captiva. Here’s a cyber shelling photo so you can virtually pick through the piles and find some yourself. Enjoy!
Also mixed in were hundreds of TRANSVERSE ARKS…
Oodles of CROSS BARRED VENUS clams…
And a few LADY-IN-WAITING VENUS clams mixed in too…
I would say that the KITTEN’S PAWS, CROSS BARRED VENUS and the TRANSVERSE ARKS are the most common shells on Sanibel but I’m still not convinced what the top six commons shells are. I just loved seeing so many LADY-IN-WAITING VENUSes mixed in too, I wanted to show you those. They are so pretty and I normally never pay attention to them. When I don’t have a lot of time, I need to stay out of the sun for a bit or we are having lots of scattered showers, I just like to stop by the beach for a short time and enjoy all of the shells that I seem to neglect the rest of the year. Most of the shells in this next photo are all bivalves…. they did not let me neglect them this time.
PS- I have no idea how that board got there. I guess it washed up?