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!
The Gulf Of Mexico was clear, warm and bright turquoise at Cayo Costa this week for our iLoveShelling shelling adventure with Captiva Cruises. Just ask snorkelers Sue Ellen, Emma, Grace and Jeff from Louisiana.
Hayla, Hope, Linda and Todd from Tennessee were like little fish as they snorkeled the whole time- fun!
But even before we got to the island, California girls Teri and Allana and the whole boat witnessed…
A DOLPHIN show on the way to Cayo Costa…
Up on the beach, Kurt and Beverly from Minnesota were amazed by the JINGLE SHELLS. Kurt said “This should be called Jingle Beach!”.
Beverly showed me her hand filled with JINGLES along with a fave little SEA URCHIN and colorful COCKLE.
So pretty … and it really is “JINGLE BEACH”. They are everywhere! I picked these up in prob less than a minute.
Mother Nature was really playing a hide and seek game with us since the shells were hidden more than usual. We really had to look high and low to find them but Dick and Yvonne from Indiana did a great job finding the larger ones.
Dick said he looked high and low around the tree roots in the water and found this spectacsheller WHELK then walked along the waters edge to find the rest of these beauties.
It was so nice to meet so many awesome shellers like Cutie Shellooties Diane and Joyce from Sarasota. Joyce found a beautiful WHELK (I showed in the first photo) about the same size as Dick’s WHELK – those LIGHTNING WHELKS must have been twins!
Most of the shells (like COCKLES and SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS) Lindy from South Carolina found were at the waters edge as well.
The “Tweezer family” Deb, Judith, Brennan and Ericca came on our cruise too!
Hmmmm…. those tweezers must turn into a magical wand – a Shell Scepter- because Judith was the only who found a BABYS EAR up high on the beach… oh wait… she found 3!
Carla from Pompano, Florida was as tickled as sea punch to find this piece of DRIFTWOOD to hang her orchids in. I couldn’t even get the whole thing in the photo but it looked exactly like a SWORDFISH with a long sharp snout and knot for an eye. Awesome BEACH BLING.
And talk about awesome BEACH BLING… Terry, Sue, Rich and Micki found the coolest treasures…
They were searching in the high tide wrack line and found SEA PEARLS, SEA URCHINS and the funniest sea toys- 2 SHARKS and a Bunny! I told them the story of the LEGO Beach Bling (CLICK HERE) but of course we should always pick up any of these toys even if we don’t keep for our “Kicks and Giggles Jar”.
This is Fintastic Beach Bling!
PS- Be safe everybunny.
Join me on an iLoveShelling Shelling Adventure. For dates and info CLICK HERE
The only thing cloudy about our Captiva Cruises iLoveShelling trip to Cayo Costa were the live CLOUDY PERIWINKLES hiding in clusters on the tree roots at the south tip of the island.
It’s been such a month on the islands of spotting great wildlife. Everywhere I look, I am still seeing wonderful signs of healthy life… like these STRIPED FALSE LIMPETS and BARNACLES on those same tree roots with the PERIWINKLES.
Melissa, Juliana, Becky and Garrett from Colorado walked around those tree roots to find some nice empty shells as well.
They found a bag full of double SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS…
Sisters Teresa and Elaine from Pensacola, FL found some keepers on the Gulf side of the island.
Elaine collected oodles of different color JINGLES to use for a picture frame craft project.
D.J. from Avon Park, Florida found empty LETTERED OLIVES and an ANGEL WING wading knee high in the water.
Oh but wait… How could I forget? I have to tell you about the boat ride over to the island. We had a pod of DOLPHINS come over to say “Hi” to everybody on our boat.
When they swam closer to the boat, we could see there were 3 mother DOLPHINS… each with babies! If you look closely at this next photo, you can see the baby hugging up to the mother. So cute!
And the DOLPHINS weren’t the only wildlife coming up to say “Hi” to us… meet Casper The Friendly GHOST CRAB.
I have never seen a GHOST CRAB act so friendly! Seriously, “Casper” was not at all afraid of us and actually followed us on the beach. See? He got right in-between Sandy’s feet and hung out there for a few minutes.
He even ran into a shelling net like he wanted to play. hahaha What a character!
Even though the wildlife was exceptional, it was a wonderful day to meet exceptional people like Vicki and Bill from Arizona.
… And Melinda, Katelyn and Justin from Indiana. I especially loved meeting Katelyn since she knew all of the names of her shells but also loved all the wildlife she saw. Casper The Friendly GHOST CRAB didn’t want there to leave.
… And it was exceptional to see Marie’s beautiful family- Emily, Madison, Steve, Sandy and Ryan from Ohio. But… they were missing one Morgan, they all wanted me to tell you…. you’re next!
… And to see Bill, Michelle, Alyson and Anthony from Illinois.
I had met Michelle at Blind Pass Captiva last week when I stopped at the beach to see what the conditions were on the Captiva side by the jetty rocks. As I dug through the “picked over” shell pile, we got to talking and she told me she hadn’t found too many keeper shells but was just happy to be on the island enjoying everything else about the beach. That’s when I uncovered a beautiful FLAT SCALLOP with a tiny hole in the top. I handed it to Michelle and told her it was meant for her. I was soooo touched to see that she was on the cruise with her family AND that she made that FLAT SCALLOP into a gorgeous necklace with a little SEAHORSE charm. OMG I love that she made it into a special treasure to remember a special day we happened to meet. Shellers rock!
Lindsay had told me about an awesome HORSE CONCH she had found on Sanibel last week so when we got back to the dock at McCarthy’s Marina, she showed it to us. Wow! Lindsay, I’m so happy you showed it to us. That IS awesome and will clean up beautifully with a little elbow grease.
Even though the beach wasn’t piled up with mounds of shells this time, we were treated to a DOLPHIN show with babies, lots of friendly wildlife and most of all – a perfect day in paradise with a boat ride on calm waters full of happy people meeting an amazing community of likeminded shellers.
You won’t want to miss the upcoming shelling cruises! Check out the new dates CLICK HERE
I have been enjoying the warm sunshine we’ve been having on Sanibel the last few days… not just on the beach but outside in my back yard. I’ve been sorting…and sorting… and sorting shells. Why haven’t I been more organized in the last few days… errrrr… months…. okay, truthfully? Years! I guess thats just how I roll- I would rather spend my time doing something else other than “cleaning” (Oh how I hate that word!) but I guess enough is enough. I told y’all I wanted to do a post about the differences between some of the mini shells like the DRILLS, MUREXES and CANTHARUS like I did in my post Similar Sanibel Shells since I wanted to add more to that list. So I started looking through my Shellaboratory for each of the shells I wanted to photograph. Ack! I wanted the best of each species but I realized how dang unorganized I’ve been. Buckets, boxes and bins of uncategorized shells. Some were washed… some filled with sand. OMG
So while I sort my shells to find the best GULF OYSTER DRILL, SHARP RIB DRILL, juvie APPLE and LACE MUREXES, I had to escape to the beach for a peaceful retreat at Gulfside City Park to find an absolutely gorgeous calm day.
Oh… and more mini shells. I tried to just admire the shells on the beach without picking them up because…. seriously, we have enough. These days I try to only collect the shells I learn from, the ones that I give to others (like the post – Good Feeling About Seashells), the ones I decorate with or use in projects. So these are the only ones I brought home today… Three BUTTON SHELLS, a shiny OLIVE, one sweet BABYS EAR, a wonderful WENTLETRAP and a little cutie juvie SHARKS EYE. We don’t often see oodles of black JINGLES so I couldn’t resist picking some up … and there were lots of them! I’m trying to fill up a tall vase for my home so I might go back and try to find more tomorrow. When my vase is done, I promise I’ll post it.
So while I sort, sort, sort our minis I’ll sneak to the beach for peace, shells and sunshine.
Our Captiva Cruises boat pulled up to the shore of Cayo Costa at low tide around 1:30 yesterday …
Within minutes, Rachel (KS) found 4 LETTERED OLIVES, 2 FALSE ANGEL WINGS, and AUGER and the colors of the rainbow in JINGLE SHELLS.
Leanne (PA) strolled along the shore to find a true ANGEL WING and a few other goodies…
Ahhhhh. It was so good to get back to Cayo Costa!
I had the pleasure of meeting so many beautiful shellers while on the boat and walking the beach like sisters Beth and Barb (KY) who found SAND DOLLARS, WHELKS and OLIVES. Barb told me they have been hanging out with iLoveShelling.com since the very beginning… almost 4 years ago! She said she still has it bookmarked on her computer under my first blog name “My Shelling Blog”. Ha! I felt like I knew them already!
Patti and Tim (FL) were delightful! While Patti was shelling her heart out, Tim was photographing and videoing their whole day. What a good team!
Nancy and “Babe” looked like they were in heaven together all day. She was glowing! Then I found out why. Cameron had surprised her with the cruise for her birthday and she was thrilled. Happy Birthday Nancy! You guys are so stinkin adorable! (heehee his name is Cameron but I just kept hearing Nancy say “Good find, Babe!” …. “Oh! Come here, Babe!” so cute)
John (MA) started out his trip to SW Florida as a birder but found that looking for different species of shells was just as much fun as looking for different species of birds. Here’s John picking up his first BABY’S EAR…
Boating was so much fun to0 as we got to see a BALD EAGLE in a nest, OSPREYS catching their fish lunch from the water, DOLPHINS playing…
And seeing that the WHITE PELICANS are back on the islands…
When we arrived back on Captiva, we had a little Shell ‘N Tell so we could share some of our shells and finds. Sharon was a joy to meet !
She picked up WHITE CRESTED TELLIN on Cayo Costa. I only see these on Cayo Costa. I dont think Ive ever seen one on Sanibel.
I’m so happy I got to meet Jan (KY) since I think she must be an artist as well. Jan showed me one of her favorite finds which was covered in BARNACLES and other animal growth marks. I love that kind of stuff too!
Jerry found some really nice WHELKS on our trip but he told me also found a really large 10 inch empty WHELK at Blind Pass on Wednesday. He couldnt believe it because he thought he had stepped on a big rock in the water at low tide… then reached down and pulled up that huge LIGHTNING WHELK. WAHOO!
I was amazed at all the true ANGEL WINGS, FALSE ANGEL WINGS and even FALLEN ANGEL WINGS we found this time. Awesome!
The MANATEES even came over to send us off with well wishes…
It was a beautiful shelling cruise in paradise with a beautiful bunch of people.
Join us on the next iLoveShelling cruise! CLICK HERE FOR DATES.
Before you go….
We have TWO Winners to announce for the Shelltastic SW FLorida Vacation Giveaway!
Drum Roll Please! …..
Our first winner for the Sealife By Congress stunning sterling silver Starfish Reef Pendant is………
The Grand Prize Winner for 4days/3 nights stay in Fort Myers Beach is…..
Denise Stahl (AS, FL)!
Congratulations to you both! Sealife By Congress will be contacting you Kathie and Pointe Estero will contact you as well, Denise. So hold tight until you get your info! Thank you all for participating!
Since we knew we’d be gone for the entire day, Clark and I packed up a cooler, snacks and a change of clothes to head for Marco Island, Florida for a day trip from Sanibel. Clark’s Rotary Club had an event in south Marco that we wanted to attend (he is still President – so proud of him!) so we figured if we had time on the way home, we’d stop at a beach. We did! We stopped at Tigertail Beach!
This is the very first time we’ve been on this beach so we had to get the lay of the land by looking at the map (above). We decided to wade through the little lagoon to get to the gulf side beach on the other side…
On my way over, I saw Jonathan and Rachel carrying handfuls of SAND DOLLARS…
Wow! They said they found them all along the beach in the surf line…Cool!
So wading through the lagoon and down a sweet beach path we went… to find our first treasures from the Gulf Of Mexico.
All I started seeing was ROSE PETAL TELLINS! I love them!
And double SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS…
We could not find any SAND DOLLARS but that’s okay because we found so many other goodies like these two FLAT SCALLOPS. Clark’s beautiful orange one is on the left, and I found the larger perfect (heehee) purple one on the right. I call them “FLATS” but they are really called ZIGZAG SCALLOPS .
Clark found the prettiest PURPLISH SEMELES!
We both found CANCELLATE SEMELES as well…
I was thrilled with all of the multi colored JINGLE SHELLS and those ROSE PETAL TELLINS!
From Tigertail Beach in Marco, Florida traveling back by car to Sanibel Island it took us about 1 and 1/2 hours by way of interstate 75…
We didn’t even get there until after 4 pm and we stayed about 3 1/2 hours to have a wonderful evening exploring a new beach.
I am so glad we had the time to stop and take our time to walk down to the north end of the spit. It took us an hour and 1/2 each way so I’m so glad we had plenty of water and thank goodness we always have shelling supplies and sunscreen in the car at all times. This was our loot we brought home… and yes, Super Sheller Clark found that gorgeous ALPHABET CONE I put right smack in the middle of our fabulous collection. Thanks Tigertail!
Join us on our next trip tomorrow, Saturday April 12, as we are taking a shelling cruise to explore the island of Cayo Costa! Clark and I will show you where to find the hidden treasures of that beautiful island… CLICK HERE.