Great Beach combing! We had such a fun weekend on Sanibel with Lee and Susan finding perfectly dried MILLIPEDE SEA STARS (aka NINE-ARMED SEA STARS) at Gulfside City Park beach…
There are still so many STARFISH, FIGHTING CONCHS and other bling on the beach left over from the storms I showed you from my video last week (CLICK HERE). Now there are STARFISH in the high wrack lines that are dried out and shells without any critters in them. It was like the perfect storm with variable conditions to make all this happen… it is mating season for FIGHTING CONCHS and HORSE CONCHS (so they were already out in masses in the shallow waters), we had days (actually weeks) of unseasonably high winds, high rough water (which washed all of those shells up high on the beach), crazy cold unseasonable temperatures (live creatures feel lethargic), then the receding gulf water after the storms calmed, then coupled with extreme low tides… this is how many of these shells were stranded high on the beach.
Looking through some of them, we all found abshellutley gorgeous empty fighting conchs with bright purple apertures. They are a-mazing and seriously, they have this color opening!!!
We also ran over to Blind Pass Captiva and found a few goodies like some “Candy”…
Oooooh, and look at Clark’s nice sized candy.
Tom and Janet from NY (too shy for pics ;)) cleaned up with a bucket full of beauties on the new sand bar on the pass side of the jetty rocks.
If you remember, we visited Lee and Susan a couple of time when they lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cubaand found some amazing shells. Over the weekend, Lee was asked to be a speaker to share his shell collecting experiences in that part of Cuba at the 2016 Florida United Malacologists meeting at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum while they were here visiting. He did such a great job!
Since Guantanamo Bay isn’t a place that most people get to visit, he described their shelling days of “life on the rock” with a fabulous slide presentation and brought examples of the shells they found in GTMO. He made it fun for us to go to our first “FUM” meeting.
Thank you Colin, Rodger and Dr Leal (pictured with us) for organizing the event and for encouraging us to come.
So after seeing Lee’s presentation and reminiscing about our visits to GTMO, I had to look at my blog posts again to take a trip down memory lane. It’s still so unbelievable we got to go there (thanks again Lee and Susan) you’ve got to check out our trips again too – just CLICK HERE . I really laughed out loud looking at one of my videos from the trip- I kept calling them “rocks” haha … it was actually a beach full of CORAL chunks but I guess I was so overwhelmed it all just felt like I was picking through a huge pile of rocks. Do you think I was a little excited???
It is not every day we get to see SEA URCHINS wash up in the colors in the rainbow. Every day the beaches on Sanibel and SW Florida in the last few weeks have been loaded with all sorts of Beach Bling from the storms we’ve been getting every other day. After sifting through thousands of dried spineless SEA URCHINS in the high wrack line on the beach to find the unusual colors, I needed to get down to the water’s edge to see what the newest measures were that the tide was bringing in. WENTLETRAPS and other cool minis!
Every tidal line on the beach has different treasures right now from brought in by the high winds. It’s like a our very own science project spread out in lines along the shore for us to sort through and be amazed by.
Oh Buoy! Torn from their CRAB TRAPS that washed up on the beach, buoys dotting the shoreline along with DRIFTWOOD, balls of SEAWEED, EGG CASINGS….
And of course seashells.
So… I brought home the SEA URCHINS I found from the top photo, but not all of them made it home in one piece. I know, I know… I should’ve taken a plastic container to the beach with me – dang it! But I really didn’t think I was going to keep any of them but they were just so pretty I just couldn’t help it. Ha! Lesson learned- I really didn’t “need” to bring them home ay way- that’s exactly why I put myself on a shell collecting “diet”. Hmmmm… This may take a little more work than I thought hahaha.
You get that magical feeling when you see a STAR wash up on the beach next to your toes, don’t you? We always feel so lucky to be able to touch them, to pick them up and to return them safely to the sea … never feeling afraid they will bite like so many other sea creatures. They seem happy, peaceful and a little whimsical for some reason so we always feel a little giddy to catch a glimpse of them. So since they seem so magical, I’m gonna make a wish whenever we see a SEA STAR from now on.
All along the east end of Sanibel this morning, we saw lots of other healthy live creatures as well… like this beautiful PEAR WHELK.
Earlier this week at Blind Pass Sanibel, I found a few strings of shells lining the beach…
I found a few hidden treasures tucked in between the loads of ARK shells…
I found a few other treasures too…
Sue and Molly from Indiana were so much fun to talk to and happy as clams to be stooping for shells in the cooler weather.
Sue’s fave find was a beautiful GAUDY NATICA, while Molly was thrilled she found a little MOON shell too… a juvie SHARKS EYE and a verrrrrry cool BRYOZOAN COLONY that looks like a cross between a SPONGE and CORAL.
I also met other shellers traveling from Indiana to Sanibel…. Debbra and Steven.
We found lots of little mini shells along the beach at the water’s edge and some nice LETTERED OLIVES as we waded in the water shin deep.
My fave finds today? Seeing the live creatures were a highlight of the day and I found many cutie colorful SCALLOP SHELLS (and a sweet double SUNRAY VENUS) to make me even happier.
Join me on an iLoveShelling Beach Combing Adventure… CLICK HEREfor more info
Star light, star bright. First STARFISH yesterday in sight.
SEASTARS are always so much fun to see. This beautiful creature went right back in the calm, clear Gulf water where Linda and David (TN) found it while on our iLoveShelling adventure with Captiva Cruises yesterday.
I was also thrilled to see this gorgeous SHARKS EYE OPERCULUM that Jill (Peculiar, Missouri) found. She brought it over for me to identify and I think I went a little crazy… “Omigosh it’s perfect!”.
I always love when other beachcombers have an eye for the unusual pieces of beach bling and want to know what it is. She said she saw that cool swirl on it so she picked it up. Most people would have walked right over it… but not Jill! (check out our first one CLICK HERE-errr…. but its nowhere near as pretty as her’s).
I think Jill found that OPERCULUM because she has an eye for the small BIVALVES and likes to find shells she’s never found before. I think there are about 9 different species on her towel she brought to wrap them in for safe travels.
Jill’s not the only one that loves the bling and unusual, Shelly found all sorts of fab finds like FEATHERS, SEA URCHINS and huge shell pieces. Look at that happy smile on such a beautiful day at Cayo Costa Island!
The water was an amazing 75 degrees for Mac and Delta ( Los Angeles) to wade and scoop up a few treasures like LETTERED OLIVES and FIGHTING CONCHS. So much fun hanging out in the water with y’all!
We all found oodles of live OLIVES in the water and on the beach that we had to put back where we found them… but we were also lucky enough to find a few really glossy empty ones too.
Sue and Jens from NC were happy to find a few OLIVES and a stunning LIGHTNING WHELK too.
And PURPLISH TAGELUS shells too. These were scattered all along the mid tied wrack line on the beach so once we found one, we followed the same tide line to find so many more.
That was actually the same shell line that Krys and Mandy (Richmond, Virginia) found lots of dried out SEA URCHINS. They also found some sweet little COMB BITTERSWEETS with amazing patterns but my photo just didn’t turn out well. (I’m going to look for those COMB BITTERSWEETS the next time on Cayo Costa)
We were barely off the boat stepping foot on the beach when Louisette and Michael (from Massachusettes) found a pile of shells they started scooping up. Louisette is a Sailor’s Valentine artist so she was in heaven with all of the common ARKS, VENUS shells, JINGLES and KITTENS PAWS all the same size for her work.
Local shellers Cazzie and Beth (Fort Myers Beach) found showed me their fave shells they found- Cazzie with a CONCH and Beth with a juvie lemon yellow HORSE CONCH.
So Cazzie realized that he had never seen this shell ever before on our beaches … hmmmm… Yep- he was right. We don’t normally find these type CONCHS on our beaches. It’s what I call a “WEDDING SHELL” which is a shell from the other side of the planet that someone bought in a shell shop and threw out on the beach to decorate or something (for whole story- CLICK HERE). I haven’t seen that many WEDDING SHELLS at Cayo Costa so it was pretty fun to see this one and know it is a very common shell in Okinawa, Japan– we saw them on every single beach when we visited there. When I asked Cazzie what his favorite shell of the day was… he showed me the WEDDING SHELL. :)
Rena brought her friend Nancy (Boston) who had never even heard the term “sheller” before this trip- A newbie! She might even consider herself a sheller now? haha Hopefully!
I had a twin on our cruise! Susan and I showed up with the same outfits on- same hat and iLoveShelling tee shirt. She and her husband Stuart were on a cruise last year with us when Stuart found an OLIVE without a tip. She took that OLIVE shell to Congress Jewelers with her certificate she received on our iLoveShelling trip and had this necklace made she has on this the next photo. A wonderful memory from last year- i LOVE that!!!! So much fun to see y’all.
Just like Susan and Stuart, each passenger on this and all iLoveShelling cruises received a $25 gift certificate from Congress Jewelers (formerly Sealife By Congress) to use in their store. Thank you Congress Jewelers for being so generous with the iLoveShelling community!
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
As the tide was rushing out of Sanibel’s Blind Pass channel, there were little pockets of semi-buried shells in the sand along the shoreline covered by only 3 inches of water. That’s where the treasures were last night just before sunset. My fave of the evening was that beautiful baby BITTERSWEET in the ARK ing the photo above. Love it!
Karen and Mark (New Jersey) discovered some of those shell pockets too.
They were happy to find some empty shell treasures of their own.
We all had to be very careful to look inside each shell to make sure there wasn’t a critter living inside of the shell like this teenie tiny HERMIT CRAB I quickly put back in the water after I snapped a photo…
This was an even more exciting find… a nice size live healthy LIGHTNING WHELK that I put back in the water exactly how I found it.
The GULF OF MEXICO is alive with beautiful sea creatures living close to shore like these MOLLUSKS, CRABS and this cutie SEA STAR too…
And to top it all off there was a shellsational sunset to end a great day.