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!
Shellzam! It’s so beautiful.
Lots of shell EGG CASINGS were washing in at Gulfside City Park along with PEN SHELLS and SPONGES.
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. ;)
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
Cathy was finding lots of great shells too and even witnessed Clark taking more photos. (Staff photo by Clark Rambo heehee)
These were my three favorite shells I found last night at dusk at Gulfside- an ALPHABET CONE, DOSINIA and a gorgeous color BANDED TULIP.
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.
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
This MILLEPEDE SEA STAR ate a whole POTATO URCHIN that was entirely too big for his belly so he split himself wide open. Are you crazy, dude?
After strong west winds yesterday, Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel had some very cool BEACH BLING washing up this morning but this takes the cake… the potato cake, that is. heehee
I could tell that the STARFISH was very much alive since his little tube feet and spines on the underside were sticking out and moving around to tell me he wanted to go back into the water so he could finish this shellicious breakfast. (Of course I understood him- I talk Starfish) In the next photo, the hole in the middle of his body is his mouth so, as you can see, the POTATO URCHIN (or HEART URCHIN) that he ate is barely visible from this side.
But looking at this view…. Holy Cowrie! The whole URCHIN is there but his belly wasn’t big enough.
In my humble opinion, it seems to reason that since SEA STARS can regrow arms if they break off, I’m assuming once this guy finishes his meal he will be able to repair his torn body and live happily ever after. So I put him back in the Gulf to digest this massive meal and hopefully live another day.
Check out this short video I took so you can see the whole dang thing!
But the funnier thing is…. our friends Dick and Mary had just told us that they found a dead MILLIPEDE STARFISH on the beach that had swallowed half a bivalve. Oh my! They just sent me these iPhone photos so I could share them with you too. One valve of the ALTERNATE TELLIN bivalve shell is inside him and the other is hanging out of his mouth on the underside. This is so wild!
This is the other side that you can see that one valve is still hanging out. Crazy! Unfortunately, this SEA STAR wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree so neither guy made it out alive from this meal.
PS- I’ve interchanged the words “SEA STAR” and “STARFISH” a few times throughout this post. I know “SEA STAR” (I intended these to be said aloud with air quotes instead of real ” ” so go ahead, air quote away!) is the more socially acceptable way to say “STARFISH” these days but I’m stuck with calling them “STARFISH” since I grew up calling them that. Just so you know. :\
Quick update… I stopped at Tarpon Bay Rd public beach accesstoday just to see if these NW winds brought us some shelling treasures. Yes- The beach was loaded with fun piles to pick through and more in the water!
This next photo is from yesterday and the shells were in the water at Blind Pass and just a few scattered on the beach. But I’m sure today they have made it on to the beach but I didn’t have time to check. I’d say if you are in southwest Florida, check out the closest beach to you- it will probably have some seashell treasures! I’ll post more pics soon but wanted to give you an update ASAP.