The best time to find lots of shells on the beaches of southwest Florida is after a storm coming from the Gulf Of Mexico – which is exactly what happened last weekend when Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hermine came through.
We never know exactly when or where the shells will start washing in after the storm leaves town but theres nothing more fun than hunting for them high and low. This is also the time to meet lots of other fun-loving shellers on the hunt for those amazing treasures that roll up on our beaches.
… And in the water when it calms.
… And anywhere in between.
Errrrr but wait. There may be something more fun than searching for them… Finding them.
This type of excitment is exactly what happened at the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach by the fishing pier last weekend. It’s what we shellers wait for and dream about!
Earlier this week the seas calmed from the storm and the shells weren’t as easy to find so Clark and I headed south towards Marco to explore the outer islands by boat.
OMG Super Sheller Clark hit the shellmongus jackpot!
For the past 3 days, Southwest Florida has been peppered with high winds, rough and choppy seas in Gulf Of Mexico, rain showers and extreme tides. Thank goodness we didn’t get a direct hit from Tropical Depression #9 (now named Hurricane Hermine) on Wednesday, so it was safe to go scouring the island to find a huge shell pile that formed in the morning on the west end of Sanibel at Blind Pass that brought a few awesome treasures (top photo).
After picking through those treasures for a while, I couldn’t wait to see what was happening on the east end of Sanibel at Lighthouse Beach.
The gulf side was still too choppy but by the late afternoon the shells started piling up at the waters edge on the pier side of the lighthouse.
Then more rain and more high winds… then…. fast forward to this morning at Lighthouse beach near the fishing pier again…. Shellzam!
It was Shellmania! Shells started washing up on the beach but before they could even get on shore, we had a line of shellers sitting on the sand bar in the water having a spectacsheller time.
It was total shelltopia! We all became fast friends after all 5 of these HORSE CONCHS were found in less than an hour. We would hear screams of joy when someone pulled another empty one up out of the shallow water then we splashed over to see the next trophy- give a big hug then oooh and ahhh. Such a blast!
I found a HORSE CONCH too! It was very cool although it had lots of old barnacles and shell “crust” but since we have a few already at our house, I decided to gave it away in a “guess a number between 1 and 100” game with 9 other shellers. Congrats Andrea! haha So. Much. Fun.
Feeling the anticipation of what a Tropical Depression in the Gulf Of Mexico like Hermine (aka “#9”) will do to our beaches if there’s no threat of danger, makes all shellers feel giddy with excitement. If you’re an extreme sheller, this is what we wait for. It’s happiness.
While running the beaches the last 2 days, I met so many amazing people finding such awesome treasures. This is what makes the beach here so much fun- sharing the shelling love.
We also saw Captain John shelling with his family Katherine and Jack at Blind Pass. He was the new captain with Captiva Cruises who captained our last iLoveShelling Adventure. They just moved to Sanibel 2 months ago and looks like they’re already getting the hang of finding shells. Nice TULIP!
I haven’t even gotten a chance to hit all the beaches because we still have storm bands driving thunderstorms though our area. Please remember…. any time you hear thunder PLEASE be safe and get off the beach. It’s so easy these days to find a good radar weather app to be aware of storm bands coming through so you can be prepared. If you don’t have your smart phone with you, the sound of thunder is Mother Nature’s warning signal to be safe and take cover. The shells can wait… Mother Nature knows best.
More shell stories to come so stayed safe and stay tuned ;)
Until then, have a shell of a day!
PS- Hi Joey, I hope you got that little WHELK from your Gramma Sandy. ;)
It’s crazy the masses of stranded FIGHTING CONCHS and HORSE CONCHS I showed you over 2 weeks ago (CLICK HERE) are still on the beach at Gulfside City Park.
Blind Pass Captiva has come and gone with shells a few times in the last weeks so each day is a surprise to what we find. The best thing I’ve found there recently is 10 year old Ryan from New Jersey. This kid has learned so much about shells, he could name every shell on the beach. It was so much fun to see that he was just as obsessed with all shells and bling… hmmmmm… I think I see a future Malacologist in the making. ;)
He’s pretty darn good at finding awesome shells too.
It was a special trip to Sanibel for Ryan and his grandma Hilarie – he was teaching her about shells. There’s something else interesting about this next photo too… this beach is on the inside of jetty rocks at Blind Pass Captiva- that beach is back! Over the years the sand shifts back and forth- opening and closing the pass. It’s amazing to watch the power Mother Nature has to build a beach or take away a beach within a matter of days. (CLICK HERE and HERE to see other Blind Pass changes)
I took a quick little video of the shells at Gulfside again to share with you… Honestly, it kind of makes my head spin to see all of them so its hard to focus on looking at anything else.
I just have to focus on a few other sweet treasures… and remember at times less is more.
A new shelling destination! Our iLoveShelling Adventure with Captiva Cruises has lead us to explore a new part of to Cayo Costa island… and its so cool. We had quite the adventure as the temperature dropped to the low 50s (I know, it’s not as bad as most places in winter but its kinda cold for us) so we all bundled up then pulled up to a brand new dock, walked through some awesome scenery on a brand new boardwalk…
We reached a part of Cayo Costa that nobody else can easily get to.
Lots of shells lined the shore.
It was so much fun to see what everybody was finding. Christina (MA) found lots of SAND DOLLARS.
Look how cute Patti from Minnesota is! She has SAND DOLLARS in one bag, minis in another, the Sanibel Six shells in another and I think the last bag was her bestie bag. She is an organized sheller- nice work Patti!
Mallory, Angie, Makenna and Pam (Kansas and Naples) were excited to find SAND DOLLARS and ANGEL WINGS.
I think everybody found their own “Beach Bucks”… Jennie from Philly (and Venice ;) ) found some too.
Dave from Michigan is a super sheller! He found three big empty LIGHTNING WHELKS (one is in his net) on the beach. Shellzam, Dave!
Marje and Rick (IN) were excited to find one too.
Missy from Indiana is a super sheller too finding two empty HORSE CONCHS Another Shellzam! haha
The apple doesn’t fall for from the tree… Missy’s mom Nancy is quite the sheller too…
Nancy had her eye on double SUNRAY VENUS and double CALICO CLAMS. So pretty.
Washed up in the high tide wrack line on the beach Anita (NY) found ANGEL WINGS.
Sandi (AL) and Teresa (NY) collected all sorts of shell and a few wonderful memories… and me too. Sandi, it was so much fun to meet you and say “hi” to Michelle for me?
Scott and Laura (MI) found more beach bucks too.
Jackie found a very cool ARROWHEAD SAND DOLLAR …
and Steve’s faves were the ANGEL WINGS.
Dawn and Scott (Colorado) found some really fun finds…
Don’t ya just love the pattern on that SAND DOLLAR? Those perfect PAPER FIGS have such amazing colors on the side as well.
Kim and Lona (TX) found lots of shells on our trip and showed us their Texas shells. Thanks y’all!
Jo and Jeff found shells and loved the bling… Jeff is holding a chunk of the COQUINA LIMESTONE.
Ok, so you know I like my beach bling too, right? Pam from Naples found this weird thing on the beach and asked me what is was… “Oh cool!” I got really excited to see it because I found one a few years ago but something happened to it before I could take photos. haha It’s a FISH SWIM BLADDER. After I told her that she kinda didn’t want to hold it any more (heehee) and asked me if I wanted it… heck yea! LOL So now I have a FISH SWIM BLADDER to add to the Shellaboratory. ;)
And there’s always someone that touches me and makes my day complete- Wendy and Scott from Indianapolis…
The gifts we are given from the sea are treasures we keep with us forever.
On our iLoveShelling cruises we get even more gifts… every passenger will receive a $25 gift certificate for Sealife By Congress Jewelry store!
And one more for you… here’s a gift of CYBERSHELLING! Click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see how many keepers you might see.
Join us on one of our iLoveShelling Adventures… CLICK HERE
PS- We had more special guests on our cruise as well- a film crew! In about 2 months when the piece is done, I’ll post the link here so you can see all of us on their film. We had so much fun- thanks for joining us!
And then this happened this weekend… I found this spectacsheller empty HORSE CONCH! I was walking along with my friend Alicia and then… Boom- Shellalaka! I saw part of that bright color shell half buried in the sand.. then galloped towards it and lassoed me a Horsie – Yeehaw. I reined this big bad boy filled with sand and saw it had such a nice lip and this amazing orange yellow color… and… without too many barnacles. Yup, it was bareback! Giddy Up, Horsie!
And Alicia found so many awesome shells too. She and GAIL were especially happy to both find perfect ALPHABET CONES.
We’ve had so many storms, the beach at Gulfside City Park on Sanibel Island is littered with shells of all sorts. Most of the shells were still alive on the beach at low tide which exposed so many creatures we normally don’t get to see. This is a rare time when Mother Nature decides to clean house and let us see what she’s hiding on the floor and under the carpet of the Gulf Of Mexico.
These were a few of the empty shells I found wedged in-between the ARK shells and the live MOLLUSKS.
I’m not exaggerating…. there were thousands of shells. It was overwhelming to even know where to begin to identify all of them so I just enjoyed taking in the view.
After a while, I spotted a few empty shells that were laying right on top.
And still… oodles of SEA URCHINS.
Local shellers Melody and Vickie were as thrilled and curious as I was to just see the awesome sight of the exposed beach filled with live creatures.
They couldn’t get over how gorgeous and perfect the PAPER FIGS and SEA URCHINS were. They are both so delicate.
I’m telling you, it was shocking to see that bright orange creature with so many live HORSE CONCHS exposed. The wild wild west of Florida.
These unbridled HORSES were digging back in to the sand saddling up along side and feasting on other MOLLUSKS while waiting for the tide to cover them up again and take them back to the stable. Most of those BANDED TULIPS were alive and riding horseback but can you spot the sand filled WHELK in between the PEN shell and one of those BANDED TULIPS?
Many people ask if this happens every day… No it doesn’t. Yes, our area on Sanibel and other SW Florida beaches have shells every day but these huge shells just don’t wash up at your feet every day. It’s the circle of life so it’s fun to see live creatures in their natural habitat and to be overwhelmed by Mother Nature. It’s a special occurrence just like fisherman fish for “the big one” or birders trying to spot flocks of ROSEATE SPOONBILLS or looking for DOLPHIN jumping out of the water. All of this happens on special days and mine was this weekend. Shellzam, y’all!