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

Sanibel Shellnanigans

Posted by on May 9, 2016 in Alphabet Cone, Cone, Junonia, Millipede Starfish, Starfish | 23 comments

sanibel starfish sea star by causeway bridge

After high winds for a few days last week, Sanibel Island had some interesting live creatures wash up on all of our shores like the MILLIPEDE STARFISH (aka- SEA STAR ;)) at the Sanibel Causeway and….

There were empty shells washing up too. Tom from Indiana found an JUNONIA off West Gulf!

Junonia found by Tom Indiana

Shellzam! It’s so beautiful.

Sanibel Junonia

Lots of shell EGG CASINGS were washing in at Gulfside City Park along with PEN SHELLS and SPONGES.

fresh Sanibel shells

When the waters calmed down a bit, The Fabshellous Shell Squad was there to pick out some of the spectasheller treasures from the surf.  It was fun to hang out discussing shellnanigans with Michelle, Julianna, Veronica, Laura and Rebecca because they like to talk in shelludricous shellanguage like I do. ;)

Michelle, Julianna, Veronica, Laura, Rebecca VCB press

Veronica texas seashell

Clark scooped up a few ALPHABET CONES and a FLORIDA CONE. He even snapped a photo of them and sent it to me since I wasn’t near him on the beach to take the picture of them. He wanted me to put “Staff photo by Clark Rambo” haha

Florida alphabet cone shells

Cathy was finding lots of great shells too and even witnessed Clark taking more photos. (Staff photo by Clark Rambo heehee)

Cathy clermont FL shells

These were my three favorite shells I found last night at dusk at Gulfside- an ALPHABET CONE, DOSINIA and a gorgeous color BANDED TULIP.

Sanibel seashells at dusk



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What Do Sanibel And Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Have In Common?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 in Cuba Seashells, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Lined Sea Star, Millipede Starfish, Starfish | 19 comments

Sanibel millipede nine arm sea star

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…

lee and susan with Sanibel sea stars

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.

Masses of shells stranded on Sanibel 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!!!

purple color fighting conchs Sanibel

We also ran over to Blind Pass Captiva and found a few goodies like some “Candy”…

candy corn shell

Oooooh, and look at Clark’s nice sized candy.

clark rambo shell find

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.

seashells found on Captiva Island

If you remember, we visited Lee and Susan a couple of time when they lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and 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!

FUM Lee Merrill exhibit

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.

Lee Merrill Malacology meeting

Thank you Colin, Rodger and Dr Leal (pictured with us) for organizing the event and for encouraging us to come.

Sanibel Rambo, Merrill, Jose Leal meeting-1

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???


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I See A Sea Of Beach Bling

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Brown Spiny Sea star, Long-Spined Urchin, Millipede Starfish, Purple Sea Urchin, Sea Life, Starfish, Urchin | 30 comments

sea urchin colors in the sand

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!

wentletraps and sea urchins-1

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.

Sanibel sea stars and urchins-1

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….

Sanibel beach buoys-1

And of course seashells.

pile of seashells around tree roots-1

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.

pear whelk among seahsells-1


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A Sea Star… Make a Wish!

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Pear Whelk, Sea Life, Starfish | 7 comments

live starfish sanibel-1

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.

sea star and seashells-1

All along the east end of Sanibel this morning, we saw lots of other healthy live creatures as well… like this beautiful PEAR WHELK.

live pear whelk mollusk-1

Earlier this week at Blind Pass Sanibel, I found a few strings of shells lining the beach…

seashells in the gulf

I found a few hidden treasures tucked in between the loads of ARK shells…

shells in the sand

I found a few other treasures too…

beach combers on Sanibel in winter-1

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 and Molly Indiana shelling Sanibel

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.

bryozoa with gaudy natica moon-1

I also met other shellers traveling from Indiana to Sanibel…. Debbra and Steven.

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.

hand of miniature shells

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.

strength in scallop shells

Join me on an iLoveShelling Beach Combing Adventure… CLICK HERE for more info



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Star Light, Star Bright. Pretty Starfish in Sight

Posted by on Dec 3, 2015 in Brown Spiny Sea star, Captiva Cruises, Cayo Costa, Day Trips From Sanibel Island Florida & More, Lettered Olive, Olive, Operculum, Purplish Tagelus, Shark's Eye Operculum, Starfish | 13 comments

Wish upon a starfish on the beach

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.

Lynn and David from Tennessee visit Cayo Costa Island shells-1

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!”.  

Jill from Peculiar Missouri finds Sharks eye operculum on Sanibel Island-1

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).

Sharks eye mollusk shell operculum

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.

miniature bivalve shells

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!

Shelly R with seashells on cayo costa

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!

Mac and Delta from L.A. find shells on iLoveShelling shell tour

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.

Glossy lettered olives

Sue and Jens from NC were happy to find a few OLIVES and a stunning LIGHTNING WHELK too.

Sue Jens from NC visit FL shelling

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.

Purplish Tagelus bivalve shells found on Cayo Costa island

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) 

Krys and Mandy visit Sanibel from Virginia for seashells

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.

Louisette Michael from Massachusettes visit Florida for sailors valentine shells

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.

Cazzie and Beth from Fort Myers Beach find shells with iLoveShelling

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. :)

favorite shell finds

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!

Rena Nancy Boston take shelling cruise Captiva

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.

Pam with Kansas shellers Susan and Stuart

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!
Sealife By Congress Jewelers

Join us! For future dates CLICK HERE



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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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