Navigation Menu

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

How To Use Seashells For Gift Tags

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Decorate with shells, Disk Dosinia, Dosinia, Shell Art, Shell crafts | 24 comments

Using seashells for gift tags

With Thanksgiving and the holidays upon us, I’m getting excited about get-togethers with friends and family to celebrate the season of giving. But since I’m not a good cook, this means I also start to panic thinking about “what to bring” as a hostess gift – especially on Thanksgiving weekend. Hmmmm…. Bingo! What better “thought” from the Rambos (or any other beach comber) would be to give a gift of shells as a thank you? Doesn’t everybody love shells? My fave part of the whole gift is the packaging so I’ll show you how I easily I made a beautiful coastal package without drilling any holes in any of the shells. I’m tickled with my fall-ish colors I used to wrap up this small package tying seashells as a gift tag and adding beach bling to add that flavor of a coastal feel.

How to use seashells for gift tags

I got this idea from Alyson E. on iLoveShelling Facebook page last year after she saw my post about hundreds of DOSINIAS at Lighthouse beach. She showed a picture of the gift tags, earnings and ornaments she and her daughter make out of them- brilliant. I’ve been collecting them ever since for shell necklaces and gift tags of my own but if you’ve been on the Sanibel beaches in the last month, you’ve seen lots of DOSINIAS again.

Dosinia shells on a Sanibel beach

Yes, they are just white CLAM shells but I can’t help but pick them up…. just in time for the holidays.

bag of Sanibel shells with dosinias

I choose the shells that have the pre-drilled holes in them to bring home. (You don’t know why the holes are in these shells? Check out my post What Makes The Different Holes In Seashells – its fascinating!)

using natural drilled shells for gift tags

After the shells have been rinsed and dried, write your note with a magic marker inside the shell.

writing on seashells

You can use twine, raffia or any other thin string to thread through the hole in the tip of the shell.

threading a seashell for gift tags

I added a beautiful yellow “harvest” SEA WHIP to brown craft paper to start the fall color theme but couldn’t help myself… I had to add something aqua. I just had to so I added aqua raffia as a base to hold everything together then twisted a WORMIE in through the knot of the DOSINIA shell. For this package, I found a similar size DOSINIA to put a cover on the gift tag. I don’t know, I just thought it looked so cute- like a little secret you have to peek inside to see what’s there.

tie sea whips and seashells to gift packaging

To finish the look, I added an OLIVE shell with the tip missing like I use in making the OLIVE string bracelets and then tied on a SAND DOLLAR- easy peazy since there are lots of holes to choose from- heehee.  Lastly I added a wider ribbon to hide all the knots in the raffia. It’s done! I didn’t have to cook a darn thing and my friend will have something to keep after the holiday is over.

Using seashells for gift tags

Wondering what my “thought” is inside the beautiful package? My friend loves pink so I put one of my photographs with pink hues on an easel along with more beach bling. I think it will make a pretty little vignette somewhere in her house or office. I hope she likes it!

sea urchin vignette

I’m very thankful I can share this love of shelling with you and I also hope this will give you an idea or two of how you can use some of those shells you’ve collected over the years.

Or… if you want more ideas of how to find different shells, join me on one of my iLoveShelling Shelling Adventures! We are completely SOLD OUT for our next cruise with Sight Sea-R Cruises on Wednesday but we have more dates scheduled for future events or you can hop on one of their regularly scheduled cruises. Either way, CLICK HERE for more info.

pam rambo shelling trips

Read More

Tuning Up The Shelling Eye

Posted by on Aug 6, 2014 in Coquina, Disk Dosinia, Dosinia, Elegant Dosinia | 7 comments

Shells found at gulf side city park on Sanibel Island Florida

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.

dosing shells wash up on Sanibel Island

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.

Mary with shells at Gulfside City Park beach on  Sanibel

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…

Sand dollar in seashells on Sanibel Island

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.

Beautiful Bronwyn and Brenna  with coquina shells

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!

coquina shells found on a Sanibel Island beach

I didn’t see many new shells washing up at Blind Pass Captiva yesterday…

August sky at Blind Pass Captiva

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.

Blind Pass Beach Sanibel Island in August

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. ;)

Dosinia shells on a Sanibel beach

Lots of folks have been already been asking for my recommendations for places to stay this winter… Here you go!

popular places to stay on Sanibel Captiva


I’m still working on new dates for our iLoveShelling cruises but in the mean time, I already have some scheduled here… Join Us!

shelling adventures trips by pam


Read More

Never Desperate Beachcombers

Posted by on Jul 6, 2014 in Beach Art, Dosinia, Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's) | 15 comments

beach combing sanibel for sea shells

CLAMS, SCALLOPS and OYSTER shells. That’s what we’ve been seeing washed up on Sanibel beaches this week. Some experienced beachcombers might think this is a little boring since they have plenty of these bivalves and there weren’t many WHELKS and CONCHS to fill up their shell bag. But we always find interesting things and when Clark and I met Ilene, Dawn, Hudson and Ethan from St Petersburg, FL we saw they weren’t disappointed at this gorgeous evening either.

Dawn Ilene Hudson and Ethan love beachcombing

Ethan picked up an ARK SHELL with a hole in it and began telling me why certain shells drill holes in different areas of other shells. Oh wow- I just did a post on the different holes in shells last month so I wanted to know more. He told me that the further away the hole is from the hinge (what I call the “nose”), the predator mollusk is more stressed. If the predator drills near the hinge, he can get to all of the meat easily…but the shell is thicker there so it may take longer to drill. If the predator mollusk drilling the hole into the other mollusk is pretty desperate, he picks a spot that’s thinner and easier to drill but may not get much meat since the other mollusk might fight back or can slip away easier. A sign of a desperado. Thanks so much for such cool information, Ethan! BTW, Ethan teaches classes about Paleoceanography .

If I didn’t put you asleep on that explanation and you think this stuff is interesting too, here’s a photo of what I’m talking about. See the DOSINIA on the left with the perfect hole in the nose area and then look at the hole in the desperate CALICO CLAM with the hole in the middle of the shell. Why so desperate Mr. Murex? Okay, I’m not positive it’s a MUREX that made the hole but in my humble opinion, it sure looks like an OYSTER DRILL hole (part of the MUREX family). Take a look at my other post What Makes The Different Holes In Seashells?

holes in mollusk sea shells

Okay, lets get back to the beautiful shells… While we were all talking near Lighthouse Beach, Ilene showed me her pretty DOSINIA then I saw Hudson reach down and pick “candy” (juvie HORSE CONCH) right out of the shells at our toes. Clark then made a scoop in the water and pulled out a TRUE TULIP then gave it to them. Hmmmm, the shells looked like they were starting to come in but it was getting too dark to see.

shoulda focused on seashells

Dawn just posted on iLoveShelling Facebook page this morning that they found all of these shells at Lighthouse Beach. Yes! The WHELKS and CONCHS are finally coming in… not that we were feeling desperate or anything. LOL

photo by Dawn Goddard

Thanks for posting, Dawn! Looks like we are going to be heading to Lighthouse Beach today to find some mermaid treasure but I’m really looking forward to our iLoveShelling cruise to Cayo Costa tomorrow with Captiva Cruises.

sea shell mermaid in the sand

Join us and receive a $25  gift certificate for jewelry from Sealife By Congress. Call 239-472-5300 to reserve your spot for 9am.

shelling adventures trips by pam

Read More

What Makes The Different Holes In Seashells?

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Ark, Boring Sponge, Bristle Worm, Buttercup Lucine, Disk Dosinia, Gulf Oyster Drill, lady-in-waiting, Ponderous Ark, Shell Book, Stimpson Chimney Clam | 26 comments

drilled heart in seashell

i heart seashells. Shells have a way of talking to us, don’t they?  They make us feel deeply connected to the vast sea and pull us towards it. This PONDEROUS ARK shell washed up at my feet with a heart carved in it. Awwwwe, so sweet! I love you too! But hmmmm… other than being an oh-so-sweet message from King Neptune, how did this happen?

i heart this seashell

We see natural holes drilled in all sorts of shells, so it’s time to find out how they are made. The hole in this SHARKS EYE tells me a little secret of what happened to its life. The clue? It has a perfect countersunk borehole with a beveled edge twice the diameter as the inner diameter. Because of the shape of that hole, you can bet that he was eaten by another SHARKS EYE!  OMG They are cannibals!

sharks eye shell is cannibalistic

We have to guess what happened to this next guy because it looks like a fellow predator SHARKS EYE started carving up his next meal but stopped before he tasted victory.

sharks eye drilled hole by other mollusk

By looking at the hole in this DISK DOSINIA, I’m going to assume that a SHARKS EYE made a meal out of this guy too.

sharks eye drilled hole in dosinia shell

Geez, SHARKS EYES have a smorgasbord of choices for their buffet. Looks as though they like BUTTERCUP LUCINES too.

sharks eye mollusk drilled hole in buttercup shell

A straight hole with only a slight beveled edge like this LADY-IN-WAITING VENUS CLAM …

lady-in-waiting venus clam with drill hole

…was most likely drilled by some sort of MUREX… like GULF OYSTER DRILLS. Aha! That’s why they are called “DRILLS”!

gulf oyster drills sanibel florida

The grooves in these CROSS BARRED VENUS CLAMS and TRANSVERSE ARK aren’t the handiwork of the SHARKS EYE or DRILLS. These grooves were most likely made by a BRISTLE WORM. It uses a rasping technique with its bristled body while secreting acid to etch a groove in the shell to make a nice cozy place to rest.

bivalves with bristle worm grooves

If you have never seen a BRISTLE WORM, click on the video to watch the first time Clark and I came across a BRISTLE WORM…. and then come back to see what cute tokens they make.

Last May, Lisa from Shellabaloo 2 was having a great time sifting through shells at Blind Pass Captiva and found a few messages on shells she shared…

lisa shells bp

After Shellabaloo, she sent me this sweet CROSS-BARRED VENUS shell with a smiley face on it (made by a BRISTLE WORM). I keep it by my desk!

smiley face seashell

She also found a “K” on a CROSS BARRED VENUS…

seashell k for kendra

Lisa was so thoughtful, she gave it to another Shellabaloo-er… Kendra. K for Kendra!

seashell k for kendra

So let’s get back to that heart I received from King Neptune … these bigger holes most likely were drilled by a STIMPSON CHIMNEY CLAM. Oh, What? You’ve never heard of a STIMPSON CHIMNEY CLAM before? LOL Well, neither had I before I got so curious about what made that heart shape and found out that two separate drilled incidences by these clams are the most likely culprit. When I find a STIMPSON CHIMNEY CLAM, you will be the first one to know about it and I will post a photo. I already have an appreciation for them since they are quite the artists!

holes drilled in shells by other mollusks

I just assumed that a shell with lots of little holes in like this was just from regular wear and rear by the salt and wave action… like when you wash and wear your favorite shirt too many times. One day, you’ll start to see holes in it! But some times shells that look like this tend to be “holey” because BORING SPONGES have invaded it as a living space.

holes in a shell made by boring sponge

I’ve always been drawn to shells that have holes for stringing them for crafts….

seashell mobile close shells

For gift tags…

sea shell gift tag

And I always love to see someone string them for jewelry…

patricia strings seashell with natural hole

I would have never known where to start finding information on these cool holes in shells if Lisa from Shellabaloo 5 (OMG I just realized… both Lisas from different Shellabaloos are fascinated with holes in shells too! Ha! They need to know each other, wouldn’t you say?) anyway… I wouldn’t have known there was such a term as “Shell Bioerosion” and such if she hadn’t shown me where it was in this book Living Beaches of Georgia and the Carolinas .

There’s all kinds of fun to be had in exploring the common shells if you just give them a chance. They may even tell you a secret!

sea shells with holes drilled by mollusks and sponges

Read More

The Dosinia Difference

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Disk Dosinia, Dosinia, Elegant Dosinia | 20 comments

difference disk dosinia and elegant dosinia

Did you know that there were two different DOSINIA shells that wash up from the Gulf Of Mexico on to the shores of Sanibel, Captiva and Southwest Florida? In my last postI showed you so much BEACH BLING that washed up after high west winds and teased you with two DOSINIAS as well. It’s pretty common to see DISK DOSINIA (Dosinia discus) seashells on our beaches but it’s very difficult to tell them apart from their sister and more elusive shell… the ELEGANT DOSINIA (Dosinia elegant).

differences in dosinia shells disk and elegant

To identify most bivalve shells, it’s easier to look at their interior since the biggest differences show on the inside around the hinges and also where the MOLLUSK itself connected to the shell. But… just like the outside shape, color and thickness- the interior is so similar too on these shells that it’s still so hard to tell them apart.

slight difference of interior of disk and elegant dosinia

The easiest way for me to distinguish the differences of the DISK DOSINIA from the ELEGANT DOSINIA is by looking closely at the outside grooves on the shell. The DISK is on the left and the ELEGANT is on the right of all of my photos. Now it’s a little easier to see a difference, right?

different grooves in 2 types of dosinias

Notice how fine the grooves are on the left shell (DISK) compared to the coarse grooves of the shell on the right (ELEGANT). If you rub your thumb nail along the out side of each shell you can definitely tell the difference .

commarginal grooves in disk and elegant dosinias

I know you can’t run your thumb over these shells I showed you in the photos but I hope I showed you enough detail so that you could identify each one in person. But let’s just see if you can still spot the differences in CYBERSHELLING! YAY! Okay, here goes…. How many ELEGANT DOSINIAS can you find in this next photo?

how many can you identify of disk or elegant dosinia shells

Hopefully, now you will be able to pick up a DOSINIA and impress your friends and family by telling them which type of DOSINIA you just found.  (heehee) 

Dosinias on the beach

shelling adventures trips by pam



Read More

On the Beach With Shell Eggs And Ham, Pam-I-Am

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Banded Tulip Egg Case, Disk Dosinia, Egg Casing, Elegant Dosinia, Lightning Whelk Egg Chain, Long-Spined Urchin, Millipede Starfish, Paper Fig Egg Case, Pear Whelk Egg Case, Pig's Foot, Sea Pork, True Tulip Egg Case, Tulip Egg Case, whelk egg casing | 29 comments

crab trap and buoy on sanibel beach

After strong west winds last week, surely we would get some interesting shells and Beach Bling washing up on our shores of Sanibel and Captiva. Yep, lots of Beach Bling lined the beach at Gulfside City Park.

sanibel beach after storm winds

The winds were so strong, the strength of the waves pushed oodles of crab traps with buoys onto the beach. When traps get tossed around by the power of the water, their doors get jostled then spill out the bait for the crabs.

crab traps wash up n sanibel beach

So of course, the bait gets washed up on the beach too. Pigs Feet! Yes, they use PIGS FEET to attract STONE CRABS and BLUE CRABS so that’s why you may have seen odd bones washed up on the beach- most of the time its from crab traps. I actually think this one may be a HOGS FOOT. Its weird and humongo! On the beach, I do not like pigs feet or ham, Pam I am.

pig hog foot on sanibel beach

But don’t let this PIGS FOOT be confused with this SEA PORK. More ham, Pam I am?

pen shell and yellow sea pork

I also found lots of different MOLLUSK EGG CASINGS too like this LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAIN…

lightning whelk egg chain gscp sanibel

I saw there were little baby shells in their fluid still sealed in each of the disks so I put it back in the water. I’m sure they washed back up on the beach since the water was still pretty rough but … who knows. Maybe they got stuck on something out there in the water and were able to hatch. Dunno, but why not try?

baby lightning whelks in egg chain

This one is an EGG CASE to a PAPER FIG…

paper fig egg case on pen shell


banded tulip egg case on penn shell

This beauty is a TRUE TULIP EGG CASE…

true tulip egg case sanibel florida

When Clark and I looked a little closer, we saw there were several other EGG CASES that were laid on some of the TRUE TULIP EGG CAPSULES.

true tulip egg case with other mollusk eggs

There were lots of MILLIPEDE STARFISH (and PEN SHELLS)…

millipede starfish and pen shell

This was a very cool LONG SPINED SEA URCHIN…

long spined sea urchin sanibel florida

There were hundreds of DOSINIAS that were washed up on the beach as well. I was really thrilled to find both types of our local DOSINIAS scattered along the wrack lines. The top one is the very common DISK DOSINIA and the bottom one is the ELEGANT DOSINIA. I haven’t had time to photograph them but I hope to show the detail much better on my next post.

disk dosing top elegant dosing bottom

We searched Blind Pass (both sides) and Lighthouse but didn’t find huge piles of shells this weekend after the high winds but loved finding all of this cool bling at Gulfside City Park. I’m still hoping the shell piles will come rolling in soon but the birds are happy as clams with so much gourmet food at their beaks.

The birds do like stone crab and clams.

gull eating crab

They like them here and there. They like them everywhere.

bird eating stone crab sanibel

They do so like stone crabs and clams. Go Birds. Go Birds. Pam-I-am.

bird on beach with crab

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest