Wild Sanibel continues to be thriving with live creatures showing up in high definition color this week like oodles of these live COQUINAS near Lighthouse Beach.
After a few days of west winds, bunches of Beach Bling washed ashore near the Sanibel fishing pier earlier this week.
We’ve been seeing hundreds of live LINED STARFISH and beautiful purple SEA WHIPS in the water.
There are so many 9 armed MILLIPEDE STARFISH as well…
This was one of the biggest live TRUE TULIPS I’ve seen in a while at low tide. Gorgeous and healthy.
Now this guy was a little bit creepy. Lots of folks gathered around to see the bright orange snake slithering around the exposed concrete slabs in the water at the entrance of the Lighthouse. Since I had never seen this snake before on Sanibel, I texted my naturalist and shelling guide buddy Captain Brian Holaway to see if he knew.
Of course he did! He told me it is a non-venomous MANGROVE SALT MARSH SNAKE (Nerodia clarkia compressicauda). Whew- they aren’t poisonous so I took a minute to snap a few more photos and enjoy looking at how handsome he was.
Just last night, Monica from Ocala found a few striking shells along with the brilliant test of a Purple SEA URCHIN.
Another evening this week Clark saw Maria from Monrovia who found a huge empty HORSE CONCH walking in the water at Bowman’s Beach. Congrats Maria!
I have been so consumed with the living wild creatures, I didn’t see many empty shells… but I’m very happy with one perfect PAPER FIG, a purple SEA URCHIN, 2 juvie FIGHTING CONCHS and a PEAR WHELK.
Join me on a Shelling Adventure! For more information and dates CLICK HERE.
PS- I took a video of some of the live creatures to show you but for some reason in the last few months, it takes forever to download them. Now you know why I haven’t done many videos lately! ugh. When it is done, I’ll post it to Youtube- you can find me here…. https://www.youtube.com/user/pamrambo
It’s wild how many colors and patterns of COQUINA shells my friend Celeste and I found last week on Sanibel.
Combing the beach to look for beautiful treasures is the best place in the world to catch up with a dear friend like Celeste- especially finding COQUINAS as colorful as she is.
Oh yes, she is very colorful, wild and very talented. She was one of my first friends I met when we moved to Sanibel and she has kept me laughing ever since. She makes clay art that is as colorful as any COQUINA and she makes sealife for most of her pieces. I just have to show off one of her pieces to you… it has SEAHORSES, FISH, OCTOPUSES and even STINGRAYS. You can see some of her other sealife inspired pieces at ABohemeLife.com .
There was a lot of other wildlife happening on Sanibel this past week (other than hanging out with Celeste- heehee). DOLPHINS were racing up and down near the Sanibel pier.
I also had another dear friend and wild woman in town… Lizbeth. All in one day on Sanibel, she and her family witnessed SCCF (Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation) count LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLE nest eggs (photo by Lizbeth)…
And… They they witnessed a rescued of two baby LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES (photo by Lizbeth)…
And then… she and her sister saw a BOBCAT cross a beach path (photo by Lizbeth) …
Then they saw a mother LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLE laying eggs on the beach… and I got to see this one too! This photo is very dark and slightly pink because you can only have a red filtered light on the beach in SEA TURTLE nesting season (May through September) on Sanibel. We wanted to be very careful and respectful while in the presence of this incredible creature in a moment like this. It’s a memory I will never forget. So cool!
During daylight hours, SCCF marked the nest and reminded us of the full circle of SEA TURTLE EGGS of the weeks events.
Then the rain started. It has been raining and raining for days and it’s hardly stopped. I should record the crickets, frogs and croaking alligators that are loving it. My back yard is filled with water so our yard shells look like they’ve gone back to the ocean… covered with water. It’s actually a beautiful sight with everything so green and lush with the symphony of nature in the background. It’s been a wild week.
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!
It might be pretty up north in the U.S. right now with white blankets of snow but I think you need to get your beach fix warmed up a little too. So Im sending you some sunny sunshine photos of my morning beach combing. I thought of so many of you “in the cold tundra” (as some of you call it- heehee) so as soon as I saw so many bright yellow COQUINAS covering the beach this morning, I knew I needed to send you some of this warmth.
My friend Alex and I only had to walk a few steps on to Gulfside City Park beach to find lots of treasures still scattered throughout the SEA SQUIRTS.
She was collecting lots of DOSINIAS and juvie FIGHTING CONCHS to make another shell mirror.
I met Shelly on the boardwalk to the beach and she collected COQUINAS too. She said “… in a way I’m glad the bigger shells weren’t around… otherwise I may have missed this experience of looking for the small wonders”. Be still my heart.
But hold on to your sun hats, folks! She wasn’t just collecting sunshine yellow ones, she was collecting COQUINAS of every color under the rainbow…. and “CANDY” too. Gorgeous!
There were areas that had gobs of double DOSINIAS, FIGHTING CONCHS and stinky SEA SQUIRTS but after a finding shelltastic gems in just a few minutes, amazingly enough the odor went away.
Talk about amazing… Rick from Fort Myers found the sweetest perfect JUNONIA at Bowmans Beach. Shellzam!
Even if you haven’t found your JUNONIA…. yet… there are so many shell lines to sift through right now to find so many fabshellous shells and bling to find sunshine and happiness.
Oh wait, you’re not in SW Florida to sift through these shells for yourself… and maybe the photos aren’t doing it for you? How about some CYBERSHELLING! In this next photo, notice that this area doesn’t look so pretty at first, right? This is exactly what Shelly was talking about… if there are larger shells on the beach, we never look through the shell lines that look like this because it just doesn’t look as appealing at first. But… if you take you time and look a little closer…. Oh My! There are such beautiful shells just waiting there for you to discover and appreciate one day. Click on the next photo to enlarge it… then look around for three WENTLETRAPS (I only saw the big one- I had no idea the other 2 were in there until I enlarged it- Ack!) , a BABYS EAR, TUSKS, a DRILL, JINGLES, MUSSELS and all sorts of other goodies. Have fun!
Join me on a Shelling Adventure! For more info, CLICK HERE
Like many other shellers, my first memories of shelling were being mesmerized with the colors of COQUINAS. “Butterfly” shells. I can get lost for hours in a small stretch of beach sorting through pink, yellow, red, orange, purple and striped COQUINAS. This is exactly what happened last night at Sanibel’s Gulfside City Park. Something happens to the rest of the world. I’m not sure where it goes but it disappears when I see these little beauties as I wonder how each one can look like they’ve been hand painted by thousands of different artists.
The only thing that can snap me out of my world of seashell wonder is another extraordinary event… like an OSPREY plopping down his dinner feast on the same stretch of beach.
It’s not often an OSPREY will get so close to us on the beach with his meal but I think this fish was about to wiggle its way out of the grips of this hungry predator. I’m assuming Mr Osprey had to land his catch on the beach to get a better grip so he wouldn’t lose this tasty dinner. Whatever the reason, Clark and I were thrilled to see this OSPREY show and I figured you might want to see it too! Enjoy the quick OSPREY show…
Gulfside City Park had some new beach treasures washing after a few days of heavy rain and wind across the Gulf Of Mexico. There were lots of DOSINIAS (DISK and ELEGANT) and other CLAMS lined up along the waters edge at low tide yesterday.
While walking along the water’s edge with my good friend Mary (who has an exshellent shelling eye), I noticed the water had gotten churned up again with the wind so it was a little difficult to see the bottom even in the shallow water but that’s where all the shells were washing up. In another second, I watched Mary scoop up that marvshellous PAPER FIG (in the first photo) right before my eyes… and I didn’t even see a thing. Wow! Marvshellous Mary! I need to tune up my shelling eye- haha.
I was happy to know my shelling eye wasn’t completely out of focus, I spotted this sweet SAND DOLLAR wash right up at my feet…
Beautiful sisters Bronwyn and Brenna from California have been visiting Sanibel for 20 years and were thrilled to be here this week with complete shelling eye focus.
They were finding hundreds of double COQUINAS to make shell flowers. They try to join the shell crafters at Sanibel Community House each time they are here on Sanibel so they can learn more crafting secrets. Fun!
I didn’t see many new shells washing up at Blind Pass Captiva yesterday…
I saw some interesting BLING tangled in some of the fresh weed lines at Blind Pass Sanibel and also some nice shells in the surf… so finding some goodies might be pretty productive on that beach today or tomorrow.
As the Middle Gulf beaches on Sanibel looked to be the best for this week, a little birdie told me that Lover’s Key has been pretty productive too. ;)
Lots of folks have been already been asking for my recommendations for places to stay this winter… Here you go!
I’m still working on new dates for our iLoveShelling cruises but in the mean time, I already have some scheduled here… Join Us!