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

Wild Sanibel Continues

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Coquina, Lined Sea Star, Millipede Starfish, Purple Sea Urchin, Starfish, Urchin | 19 comments

Sanibel live colorful coquinas

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.

Live coquina shells in the water

After a few days of west winds, bunches of Beach Bling washed ashore near the Sanibel fishing pier earlier this week.

Sanibel lighthouse shells and beach bling

We’ve been seeing hundreds of live LINED STARFISH and beautiful purple SEA WHIPS in the water.

Florida Gulf lined starfish with purple sea whip

There are so many 9 armed MILLIPEDE STARFISH as well…

9 arms Millipede Starfish Sea Star

This was one of the biggest live TRUE TULIPS I’ve seen in a while at low tide. Gorgeous and healthy.

Sanibel live true tulip

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.

Sanibel Mangrove Salt Marsh snake Florida Gulf

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.

Orange Sanibel florida Mangrove Salt Marsh snake non venomous in water

Just last night, Monica from Ocala found a few striking shells along with the brilliant test of a Purple SEA URCHIN.

Sanibel Sea urchin and sea shells

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!

Maria Monrovia found a horse conch

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.

Sanibel Paper fig, sea urchin and conchs


Join me on a Shelling Adventure! For more information and dates CLICK HERE.

pam rambo shelling trips

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….

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Shellsational Sunsets at Blind Pass Sanibel

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Brown Spiny Sea star, Hermit crabs, Lightning Whelk, Starfish, Sunsets, Whelk | 15 comments

Conchs clams and scallop shells

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!

Sanibel sunset beach finds

Karen and Mark (New Jersey) discovered some of those shell pockets too.


Karen and Mark visit Sanibel for shells from New Jersey

They were happy to find some empty shell treasures of their own.

Karens shells found on Sanibel
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…

hermit crab inside apple murex Sanibel

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.

Live lightning whelk at Blind Pass Sanibel

The GULF OF MEXICO is alive with beautiful sea creatures living close to shore like these MOLLUSKS, CRABS and this cutie SEA STAR too…

Live starfish stuck on encrusted pen shell Sanibel

And to top it all off there was a shellsational sunset to end a great day.

Sunset with shells at Blind Pass Sanibel

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Shelling at Crystal Clear Cayo Costa

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Captiva, Captiva Cruises, live lettered olive, Olive, Snowy Egret, Southern Quahog, Southern Quahog Juvenile, Starfish, Two-Spined Sea Sea Star | 8 comments

Two-Spined sea star starfish Sanibel Island Florida

The waters surrounding Cayo Costa yesterday on our iLoveShelling Adventure with Captiva Cruises were so calm and crystal clear, we could see all sorts of amazing live creatures like this TWO-SPINED SEA STAR…

clear turquoise water in southwest florida


live lettered olive

As well as huge live HORSE CONCHS with several colonies of different hitch hikers making their home.

live horse conch with hitch hikers

It was shellsational!

shelling the water on Cayo Costa

Sylvia from PA was thrilled to find quite a few empty FALSE ANGEL WINGS.

Sylvia PA with angel wings on Cayo Florida

It was an ANGEL WING kind of day! They may not look like much here in this next photo, but trust me… they are very special finds when they have just come out of the water still little dingy and packed with mud with both halves still together. These were only just a few of all the ones we found. It was so cool!

empty double false angel wings

Sally, Kathy, Lynda and Mary from MI were some of the lucky ones to have gotten handfuls of them.

Shellers Sally Kathy Lynda and Mary MI on Rambo trip

Lynda also found some other favorites too.

shells on a blue towel

Carrie and Valerie (KY) couldn’t help but stay in the water to hunt for treasures.

Carrie and Valerie (KY) find shells in clear Cayo Costa water

They were both finding ANGEL WINGS plus some other awesome shells.

seashells found in sw florida on shelling trip

Rock hounds from Michigan- Nicole, Joe and Steve were happy to hunt for gems in the warm clear water. It was so much fun hearing about their PETOSKY STONE treasure hunts compared to hunting for shells. Thanks for the lesson!

Nicole, Joe and Steve MI find seashells in sw florida

They found a variety of goodies but I especially loved Nicole’s JUVENILE SOUTHERN QUAHOG with the zig zag pattern (bottom left). When the Southern Quahogs get older, they lose that great pattern so its always fun to see it at this stage.

juvenile southern quahog among other shells found on shelling trip

Kathy from NC was a-dorable all dressed in her aqua and shelling sister tee. So much fun to meet you!

Kathy NC with i Love Shelling tee shirt

And talk about a-dorable… real true shelling sisters Cindy (Ohio), Teresa MD and Margie (Ohio) are only 3 of 7 sisters… with 7 brothers. They are the sweetest happiest gals and it was a pleasure to meet y’all!

Cindy, Teresa MD and Margie Shelling Sisters from Ohio

Local sheller Deena found a bucket full of double SUNRAY VENUS shells. Thank you for coming with us Deena- just know Im thinking about you this week.

deena ft myers with sun ray venus shells

Vanessa, Ana, Marta and Alice came to SW Florida all the way from California to find shells… and they were ready! Ana, it was so much fun to compare notes with you on some of the shells and beach adventures.

Vanessa, Ana, Marta and Alice CA find shells

Shelley, Kianna and David (MI) were very lucky that the water was so calm and clear to have spotted a huge perfect ANGEL WING and to get it back to the CAPTIVA CRUISES dock safe and sound.

Shelly, Kianna and David MI find angel wing shell Captiva

It’s always fun to meet families that shell together like Eddie, Bill, Donna, Isabella, Steve and Michele from Delaware. They all have great shelling eyes that they must have gotten from Donna.

Eddie, Bill, Isabella, Donna, Steve and Michele Delaware seashells

They had asked me where they could find WENTLETRAPS on Cayo Costa and I told them they were there but we don’t find the very often on that island. Low and behold Donna found a WENTLETRAP and her granddaughter Isabella found one too. Isabella inherited her gramdmoms shelling eye! Congratshellations!

wentletraps found on cayo costa

Join me for a Shelling Adventure CLICK HERE !

snowy egret on cayo costa

pam rambo shelling trips

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Beautiful Life On The Beach Video

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Baby's Ear, Birds, Conch, Fighting Conch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, live baby ear, Live Sand Dollar, Live Shark's eye, Sand Dollar, Shark's Eye, Starfish | 33 comments

bird in the yellow sunset

You wanted a video? Is that what I heard earlier this week after I posted photos of lots of living sea creatures in the low tidal pools? If so….  I’m delivering! I captured some footage of the awesome SHARKS EYE, STARFISH, SAND DOLLAR, FIGHTING CONCHS, BABYS EAR and an incredible LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. Wherever in the world you might be, sit back and enjoy the beautiful life on the Sanibel beaches.


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Walking The Beach Warms The Soul

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015 in Pear Whelk, Sanibel Lighthouse Seashell Video, Starfish, Sunsets, Video, Whelk | 26 comments

Seastar starfish waiting to be swept away by the ocean

Even though we aren’t wearing our usual tee shirts and shorts here on Sanibel Island because of this cold 40 degree weather, walking the beach warms the soul.

Island Inn Sanibel cottage paradise

“Espeshelly” since cold weather brings shells!

seashells in a shell pile

Sanibel Lighthouse beach has load of shells washing up about a half a mile west of the Lighthouse.

hundreds of conch on sanibel

There were lots of live CONCHS… and lots of empty ones too but my fave was this empty sweet striped PEAR WHELK.

collecting pear whelk seashells


pear whelk shell in the sand

There were shells starting to come in at Island Inn Sanibel too (my second picture from the top)

shells in the sand with ocean wave

There were also shells starting to come in at Blind Pass too (CLICK HERE for map)

sunray venus shell on sanibel beach

shells at blind pass sanibel

Were you hoping for a video to warm you up? You Got It! I walked down the beach on the gulf side of the Sanibel Lighthouse….ummmm… maybe about 1/2 mile west or so. I mostly found empty minis (like the 3rd photo) in the washed up shell lines and live FIGHTING CONCHS and STARFISH (like the first photo) in the water near the Lighthouse but when I walked further down the beach I found this… 

One more photo to sooth the soul… The evening warmth of shelling at Blind Pass at sunset last night.

Sunset at Blind Pass Captiva Turner Beach

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Sanibel’s Captivating Live Sea Creatures

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Lightning Whelk, Live Sand Dollar, low tide, Operculum, Sand Dollar, Starfish, sunrise, Whelk | 16 comments

lightning whelk in surf

As we celebrate new days watching the sun rise over the horizon at low tide in the new year on Sanibel…

Sanibel sunrise

We also shellebrate the gifts of the sea…

seashell and waves at blue dawn

We also celebrate the gift of witnessing living creatures exposing themselves for just a short time as the water recedes.

live lightning whelk at sunrise

With most animals, we are easily able to see if they are alive, healthy and breathing but with creatures of the sea that have washed ashore, it’s a little bit more difficult. We (shellers) take the time to to look for signs of life with respect. As soon as I saw this shell was occupied by noticing the body and OPERCULUM of the “snail” still intact, I gently placed it back in the water covered with sand making sure the opening faced down into to sand.

live lightning whelk in sand and sea foam

Even for some shellers, it’s hard to tell if a SAND DOLLAR is dead or alive so the best thing to do first is… slow down. Take a few minutes to look for any cilia which looks like fur or looks a little fuzzy in the edges. Any time a SAND DOLLAR is this color, assume that it is still alive… gently place it back in the water.

Live sand dollar bottom

If a STARFISH is any where near the water or if the sand is still damp where you found it, always assume it is still alive too and let it be.

starfish in the sand with shells

Shellers are very fortunate to have seen the miracles of Mother Nature as we comb the shorelines to discover the magic of the sea. We learn new lessons every day we walk the water’s edge. For most beach combers, we know the signs of life in sea creatures but inexperienced visitors may be overwhelmed with the beauty that surrounds them and not know to take the time to look for signs of life. Since I grew up on the water, I always assumed other folks knew shells, SAND DOLLARS and STARFISH live their lives close to shore but now I’ve learned that most people don’t know much about life in the ocean or gulf. First time visitors to the beach may have heard how amazing shell collecting is and unintentionally collect a live animal without knowing it. It’s an amazing experience to see the compassion on a new sheller’s face after learning they have collected a live animal then race it to the water where they found it to save its life. Most just don’t know… and are thankful to learn and appreciate the living ocean even more.

father and daughter on the beach at sunrise

There have been so many live critters exposed during the morning’s low tide the last few days so with many newbies on the beaches, I’m sure I’ll get to see the amazement on someone’s face that just learned for the first time that shells, sand dollars and starfish are living beings and are still actually alive.

live fighting conch sw florida

Come with me on a shelling trip! For upcoming dates … CLICK HERE

pam rambo shelling trips

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