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.
After strong west winds last week, surely we would get some interesting shells and Beach Bling washing up on our shores of Sanibel and Captiva. Yep, lots of Beach Bling lined the beach at Gulfside City Park.
The winds were so strong, the strength of the waves pushed oodles of crab traps with buoys onto the beach. When traps get tossed around by the power of the water, their doors get jostled then spill out the bait for the crabs.
So of course, the bait gets washed up on the beach too. Pigs Feet! Yes, they use PIGS FEET to attract STONE CRABS and BLUE CRABS so that’s why you may have seen odd bones washed up on the beach- most of the time its from crab traps. I actually think this one may be a HOGS FOOT. Its weird and humongo! On the beach, I do not like pigs feet or ham, Pam I am.
But don’t let this PIGS FOOT be confused with this SEA PORK. More ham, Pam I am?
I also found lots of different MOLLUSK EGG CASINGS too like this LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAIN…
I saw there were little baby shells in their fluid still sealed in each of the disks so I put it back in the water. I’m sure they washed back up on the beach since the water was still pretty rough but … who knows. Maybe they got stuck on something out there in the water and were able to hatch. Dunno, but why not try?
This one is an EGG CASE to a PAPER FIG…
This is a BANDED TULIP…
This beauty is a TRUE TULIP EGG CASE…
When Clark and I looked a little closer, we saw there were several other EGG CASES that were laid on some of the TRUE TULIP EGG CAPSULES.
There were lots of MILLIPEDE STARFISH (and PEN SHELLS)…
This was a very cool LONG SPINED SEA URCHIN…
There were hundreds of DOSINIAS that were washed up on the beach as well. I was really thrilled to find both types of our local DOSINIAS scattered along the wrack lines. The top one is the very common DISK DOSINIA and the bottom one is the ELEGANT DOSINIA. I haven’t had time to photograph them but I hope to show the detail much better on my next post.
We searched Blind Pass (both sides) and Lighthouse but didn’t find huge piles of shells this weekend after the high winds but loved finding all of this cool bling at Gulfside City Park. I’m still hoping the shell piles will come rolling in soon but the birds are happy as clams with so much gourmet food at their beaks.
The birds do like stone crab and clams.
They like them here and there. They like them everywhere.
They do so like stone crabs and clams. Go Birds. Go Birds. Pam-I-am.