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

Learning about Seashells at the 2016 Sanibel Shell Festival

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in 79th Sanibel Shell Festival 2016, Cockle, Eleuthera Shells, False Shark Eye, Flat Zigzag Scallop, Florida Prickly Cockle, Freak Shells, Glass Sponge, Moon Snail, Sanibel, Sanibel Shell Fair and Show, Scallop, Shark's Eye, Shell Shows, Sponge, Triton, ZigZag Scallop Right Valve | 4 comments

Eleuthra seashells October 2015 -1

The shell world is a fascinating adventure to learn about the lives of MOLLUSKS and the people who collect their shells on the beaches across the planet. Because I am one of those people obsessed with living my life in the world of shells, I love to hang out with people who love to share their knowledge about them too. The Sanibel Shell Festival is a great place to do that.

I’m thrilled Sunnye (TX) shared her colorful shell collection she found beachcombing in Eleuthera, Bahamas (top photo).

Sunnye Dinger Eleuthra seashell display Sanibel Shell festival-1

Her sister Lisa (TX) had some awesome displays too for which they both won awards.

lisa fitzgerald sanibel shell festival exhibitor 2016-1


Smooth Tellin shell Laciolina laevigata Eleuthera BahamsSmooth Tellin shell Laciolina laevigata Eleuthera Bahams

But I looooved this cool display Lisa did showing the difference between the SHARKS EYE and the FALSE SHARKS EYE. It explains and shows the difference in detail (for more info check out my post Sanibel Shark Week… Featuring The Shark Eye Shell).

difference between shark eye shell false sanibel shell festival exhibit-1

And then there’s Stef! I’m so happy for her- she won a blue ribbon for her double FLAT SCALLOP she found by Sanibel’s Island Inn.

Stefanie Wolf Sanibel Shell Museum marine biologist.jpg

Wait… did you miss what I said? Okay, lemme slow down… she found both sides of her FLAT ZIGZAG SCALLOP still hinged together. Exactly like she displayed it… on Sanibel… and with amazing color. Wow! Years ago, I was thrilled when Clark found just the other half of a FLAT (the right valve) since it’s rare to find them here (CLICK HERE to see what the other side looks like) … and she found both perfect valves still together. Shellzam! Congrats Stefanie!

Ziczac Zig zag scallop both valves shell festival blue ribbon-1

There were lots of displays showing ALBINO shells this year but this one by Ken and Joyce Matthys was really very cool. Here they shows tons of ALBINO FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES they’ve found through the years…

Albino shells prickle cockle

In the next case they show FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES which are ALBINISTIC. They explain… “Some shells lack their normal color, but they are not pure white. Instead they may be pale yellow, cream-colored, or have other hints of color. These are referred to as being albinistic”. Hmmm Haven’t you seen some like this? I have and now we’ve learned a name for this color form… ALBINISTIC.

Albinistic shells lack normal color

Anne Joffe’s seashell emergency room display was hilarious and voted best for People’s Choice award. Freak and damaged shells that repaired themselves to form in odd shapes were propped in mini doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and surgery rooms with bandages, crutches and doctors notes.

ann joffe freak shell exhibit sanibel festival-1

Check out this PALLID CARRIER SHELL with an attached GLASS SPONGE (from the Philippines) by exhibitor Robert Linn. Wildly beautiful.

Pallid carrier shell with glass sponge Sanibel festival

Last week I posted about the artistic side of the show with SAILORS VALENTINES, shell frames and all sorts of shell art and craft but when you look at some of these shells like these ATLANTIC TRITONS exhibited by Holly Nordyke, you realize you are looking at the most perfect work of art ever made. Stunning.
atlantic triton shell festival Holly Nordyke exhibit

Hope to see you next year at the 80th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival!


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Healthy Living On The Coast Of Sanibel Island

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Augers, Baby's Ear, Fighting Conch, Hermit crabs, Lettered Olive, Lightning Whelk, Lined Sea Star, live baby ear, low tide, Onion Sea Anemone, Sand Dollar, Sea anemone, Shark's Eye Egg Collar, Sponge, Whelk | 24 comments

Lightning whelk in Sanibel surf

If the Sanibel SEA LIFE could have talked last evening at low tide, they probably would have been chatting it up about how lovely the evening was and how healthy they were feeling…. just like us.

live starfish at sanibel lighthouse beach

This LINED STARFISH was raisin’ the roof!

Curled live starfish sea star Sanibel Island

The live LETTERED OLIVES were doin’ the locomotion…

live lettered olive shell

The live AUGERS were gettin’ jiggy with it…

live auger shells at low tide Sanibel

This live BABY’S EAR was jivin’ and slimin’…

live babys ear shell

The live FIGHTING CONCHS were putting’ up their dukes…

live fighting conch in sand

There were hundreds of HERMIT CRABS running around claiming the best shells for their residences.

apple murex with hermit crab

We even saw quite a few SHARK’S EYE EGG COLLARS brimming with little tiny eggs…

sharks eye egg collar

We even saw lots of ONION SEA ANEMONES flowering in the tidal pools…

Paranthus rapiformis onion sea anemone

Hmmmm….I wonder why they call it an “ONION” SEA ANEMONE … heehee

Paranthus rapiformis onion sea anemonae CNIDARIA

The colors of the night were amazing! This clump of SEA SPONGE was the most brilliant color purple…

purple sea sponge Sanibel

A little higher on the beach, I saw that Leah from Georgia found a honey hole of wonderful minis which included lots of WENTLETRAPS.

collecting seashells on the seashore of Sanibel Island

Leah and her husband Matt were vacationing on Sanibel to celebrate Matt’s 40th birthday.

Matt Leah from Georgia vacation on Sanibel for shells

Finding a few beautiful shells to take home was just icing on the cake. Happy Birthday Matt!

seashells found on Sanibel Island by Leah

The weather was perfect, the beach was teeming with live creatures and each breath of fresh, salty air made exploring the tidal pools heaven on earth.

Whelk in the surf of Sanibel Island

sand dollar at low tide Sanibel Island

exploring low tide on Sanibel Island

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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

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Sanibel Sand Angels for Sand Dollars

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Birds, Sand Dollar, Sponge | 17 comments

small sand dollars in a blue bucketsmall sand dollars in a blue bucket

It was SAND DOLLAR mania at Gulfside City Park this weekend! It’s a very special day to take a walk along the shore to see little tiny SAND DOLLARS washing up at your feet…

you only live once to find tiny sand dollars

My friend Betsy and I decided to meet at Gulfside City Park for a few hours to walk the beach and do a little shelling. She’s lived on the island for a long time so of course she has perfected the Sanibel Stoop

betsy sanibel stoop shelling

We’ve been good friends for YEARS and it’s the first time we’ve ever planned a walk on the beach together. What took us so long?

 Maybe its because she is a very busy gal running the Sanibel Farmers Market …. which she has Good news! The Sanibel Farmers Market opens this next Sunday November 4! Yippee! So she had to get her shelling in now before the local food fun begins.

Local Roots farmers market tote with shells

We had soooo much fun finding those little SAND DOLLARS and shells then it got even better. We saw our friend Lori with her granddaughter Julianna…

lori julianna shelling sanibel florida

Julianna wanted to pick up every shell on the beach. She said “All of them are beautiful!” then she showed me the different colors and patterns of each one.

julianna with seashells sanibel florida

She learned how to tell if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not by looking for the tiny hairs (or cilia) around it. On the left of the photo (click on it to enlarge), she is showing a live SAND DOLLAR with lots of the “fur” around the sides and in her other hand is the dead SAND DOLLAR that she can put in her bucket to take home to always remember this day. Thanks Julianna for showing us the difference.

how to tell if a sand dollar is alive

Melissa, Jack and Robin were on a day trip from Palm Beach to do a little shelling because they said they loooove shelling at Gulfside City Park.

melissa jack robin shelling sanibel

I couldn’t help but notice this awwweeesome SPONGE Melissa was carrying. Wow!  I think is the coolest SPONGE I’ve ever seen on Sanibel so I tried to research it to find out what type of SPONGE it is… no luck. I felt like I saw hundreds of different SPONGES in my research but none looked like this one so if you happen to know a SPONGE expert out there, lemme know what this species is, ok? Anyhoo, I hope that dries well and you get to display it with the rest of your treasures, Melissa. Good find!

sanibel beach sponge

Jack was so excited about all of his treasures, he plopped right down in the sand and surf and started making sand angels. OMG I love it! Sometimes I feel like I want to do that too, Jack! Good for you for soaking in every drop of happiness being on that beach. I might just have to try it this week too. (Doesnt he look like a sweet little STARFISH? heehee)

jack love sanibel florida

The weather this weekend was perfect… high 70s to low 80s with low humidity and plenty of sunshine so it was another beautiful weekend in paradise.

royal tern wing span sanibel florida

FYI- After searching and walking for a couple of hours to find those tiny SAND DOLLARS in the water, we realized they were a few on the shore when the tide was at its lowest. I hope they are there tomorrow too!

shelling adventures trips by pam

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Posted by on Nov 6, 2010 in Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Jingle, Middle Gulf Drive, Pen Shell, Sanibel, Sea Cucumber, Sea Pork, Sponge, Tube Worm | 10 comments

Beach sponges and stuff

Beach sponges and stuff

This is what I love to see on the beach! Lots of SEA SPONGES, PARCHMENT WORM CASES, SEA PORK, and PEN SHELLS. Why? Because it means there will be great shelling in the next few days!

Double Jingle Shell in pen shell

Double Jingle Shell in pen shell

See that JINGLE SHELL on this PEN SHELL? This jingle has both sides and is attached to the Pen shell….. and this isn’t even the most exciting part of this whole picture. I’ve never noticed a 2 sided jingle until MurexKen showed me. Yes! You read that correctly! Clark and I met MurexKen and MurexAlice (celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary) on the beach and he showed this jingle to me.

Jingle shell on pen shell

MurexKen showing the Jingle shell

For those of you who don’t “know” MK, he is a seashell identification wizard and educates us on the scientific gastropod and bivalve names with his comments on my posts. That may have been the first time I’ve written “gastropod” and “bivalve” in the same sentence…. huh? He’s rubbing off!

Jingle shell side view of both sides

Paper-thin jingle shell side view of both sides (my fingers)

Clark had to break out the big shelling backhoe and found this TUBE WORM.

Parchment worm alive

Tube worm in Clark's backhoe

I thought this was a PARCHMENT WORM but I think it’s a different MARINE WORM.

Sea Cucumber

Sea Cucumber Sanibel

Clark also found this SEA CUCUMBER in his backhoe. This guy was still alive so we put him back after I snapped this photo. Lots of fun stuff off Middle Gulf Drive near Gulf Side City Park!

Seashell Collectors from San Francisco

Allen and Julianna (San Francisco)

Julianna has been collecting shells all over the world so she and Allen were happy to finally be in Sanibel.

Seashell collectors from Connecticut

Renee, Carol, Kathleen and Julie (Connecticut)

A great shelling Girls’ Trip! These gals take a girls trip the same time their husbands get together and do a guys trip at another destination. How fun for all of them!

Pen shell pile

Pen shell pile

OK- I’ve got to get to bed so I can be up for the early morning low tide. I hope to have lots of goodies to show you…. or maybe just one… I’m not giving up on that JUNONIA!

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Secret Society of Shellers

Posted by on Oct 22, 2010 in Blind Pass, Captiva, Dead Man's Fingers Sponge, Limpet, Striped false limpet | 11 comments

Manatee shaped rock

Manatee or seal shaped rock

Do you see the seal or manatee shaped rock in the jetty? Mary Jo Shannon pointed it out to me at Blind Pass. Yes! THE Mary Jo that we get lots of fun comments and feedback from on this blog. I ran into her and shelling buddy Sue on the Pass side of the jetty (since there still isn’t much shelling on the right side…. my old fave).

Shelling Blind Pass Mary Jo

Sue and Mary Jo (Michigan)

Sue grew up shelling with her family then taught Mary Jo the treasures she could find on the beach. After finding her first shell, she was hooked too. Then she couldn’t believe how nice all the other shellers were and that they all wanted to show off what they found. They laughed and called it the “Secret Society of Shellers”. Yes! It is!

Dead Man's Fingers

Dead Man's Fingers?

They taught me something too. I told them I had found this dark brown sponge that looked like deer antlers but felt like styrofoam the other day but couldn’t find much info on it. They told me it is called DEAD MAN’S FINGERS.

Live limpets Captiva jetty

Live limpets Blind Pass jetty

Live Limpets

Live Limpets

Even though I didn’t find many shells, I always love to look at the colors of the jetty rocks when there are STRIPED FALSE LIMPETS on them. So colorful! Do you think members of the Secret Society of Shellers are the only ones that would enjoy this?

Don’t Forget……One More Day To Enter! Pass the word!

shell scoop

To Enter the GiveAway -Click Here!

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