There are many beaches to explore in Southwest Florida to observe a variety of wildlife and find great shells, but it’s always a fun to make a trip to Bunche Beach in Fort Myers at low tide to roam the mud flats.
Seriously, it’s like an Easter egg hunt out there at a low tide zig zagging through the muddy sand as you walk up on to flash of pink to find gorgeous SUNRAY VENUSES with both valves still held together.
So as you can see by my photos, these “mudflats” aren’t really muddy dirt made of soil but they’re actually sandy tidal areas meeting with mangrove forests and many different grass beds. When the tide recedes, we get to see lots of other natural occurrences as well … like spotting the unmistakeable colors and pattern of a half buried empty LIGHTNING WHELK shell.
And like a itty bitty empty SHARKS EYE shell.
Among hundreds of live healthy KINGS CROWNS, I found this one empty fabshellous beauty.
Such a fun trip with friends Ada, Ann and Kathy to take a quick trip just off Sanibel.
PS- Not sure if you heard- on August 16, National Geographic published an article online by the very talented journalist Gillian Kendall with the title…. “10 Reasons to Visit Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida”. It’s a beautiful piece featuring our beaches, islands, wildlife, fishing and…. errrrr…. and then there’s #2…. A Shellebrity. Oh Holy Cowrie! I’m still a little shell shocked! LOL But I’m so incredibly honored and honestly, oh I don’t know… a little embarrassed? Anyway…. it’s an awesome article and I guess it’s taken me a few weeks to post it since I feel a little… oh, I don’t know. It’s craziness!!! (blush, blush)
Oh… and PS again – If it turns out well, I’ll show you photos of my new and improved Shellaboratory I’m remodeling. I’m painting seashells on the concrete floor while we wait for the big storm in the gulf to bring us real shells! Here’s a sneak preview …
Shell trip! Clark and I took a beach combing road trip from Sanibel Island to Pass-A-Grille over the weekend … and had blast finding lots of shells. We found all of the shells in this next photo as we walked from our hotel Inn On The Beach, down to the south tip of the island at jetty rocks to the Pass-a-Grill North Channel.
It was like an OLIVE garden just at the water’s edge but we even found some of my faves…. WORMIES.
There were lots of shells to pick through on the gorgeous beach as well…
I was tickled to find a teeny tiny BROWN-BANDED WENTLETRAP hiding in the mix.
There is an island right across the channel from the jetty rocks called “Shell Island”. What? Shell Island? Of course we had to explore it! There are ferries to take people over to the island but since we wanted to spend all day on the water, we rented a boat. Look at the color of the fabshellous LIGHTNING WHELKS we found. Gorgeous!
We actually had more luck on the back flats of Shell Island instead of the beach on the Gulf Of Mexico side. There were lots of those empty LIGHTNING WHELKS, oodles of double SUNRAY VENUS shells and some really funny live KINGS CROWNS scooting all along shallow waters so I did a little time lapse video of one of them to show you. Ha! Groovy KING CROWN dance moves coming up….
So in between the KINGS CROWN congo, Clark found one of the prettiest orange colored LIGHTNING WHELKS we’ve ever seen. It is really the color of a carrot!
Ok- I took another video too of all of those empty LIGHTNING WHELKS. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
We also boated over to Egmont Key to find a beautiful sandy beach island.
We didn’t find as many shells on Emont Key but we found a couple of ROSEATE SPOONBILL FEATHERS. Ohhhhh such treat to find these pink feathers!
At the end of the day, we sat our on our lovely porch to admire all of the beautiful colors and patterns of so many different shells we ended up finding.
We had a lovely time shelling and then relaxing in our beautiful room at Inn On The Beach.
Not a bad way to celebrate our 19 year wedding anniversary, huh?
In the same area on the bay side of the island where Michelle found her BONNET, Bob from Illinois found a beautiful double SUNRAY VENUS.
I love the color and pattern of this shell!
It was so good to see Karen (Houston) and her mom Melody again on this cruise- we go way back! I feel like I have known Karen for so long since she won the first GiveAway I ever did here on my blog…. that was 2010 and I’ll never forget her. I don’t even make those notecards I painted and designed any more but it was a fun project while it lasted. Anyhoooo…. I was thrilled to see that she found a BABY EAR on the beach.
There were quite a few people who picked up BABYS EARS…
Rick, Lucas, Amy, Abby, Lindsey and Adam from Massachusetts founds bags of shells. They collected lots of the GIANT ATLANTIC COCKLE, Adam found a SAND DOLLAR and Lucas collected a sweet BABYS EAR (pictured above).
Cole and Jake from New Jersey are quite the shell hunters. Among all sorts of different shells they found, Cole’s best finds were ANGEL WINGS and a BABY EAR. Jake found a perfect SAND DOLLAR. Great finds!
Kim and Ed from Rhode Island were back on the cruise again too! This time showing off their faves from the day- a huge WORM SHELL and a sweet little SAND DOLLAR.
Connie from Wisconsin was visiting her local friend Shelley who lives in Cape Coral. I told Shelley I wanted her name! LOL
Gail (Florida) and Emily (Maryland) have been friends since high school and still get together for girls trips… this time a shelling adventure!
These are just a few shells we pulled out of one of the bags of shells they collected.
It was so nice to meet Tom from Indiana. He said his family used to think he was crazy since he loved to collect shells but now his whole family is hooked after dragging them to Sanibel.
Tom was impressed to see how big and colorful the JINGLES are on Cayo Costa as well as finding teeny tiny SEA URCHINS completely dried on the high wrack line.
Sherry from Knoxville was happy tot find 2 perfect ANGEL WINGS…
Terry and Dave from Illinois found a few goodies but the jewel in their bag was a GAUDY NATICA.
We always see oodles of live CLOUDY PERIWINKLES on the tree roots around the tip of Cayo Costa but rarely see the empty shells so I snapped a photo of this one in the sand. Because I had to bend down to get a closeup, I saw that tiny yellow LUNATE CRASSENTELLA. I haven’t seen them in a while.
Mrs. Lueders was happy shelling for the minis too…
She found plenty of the LUNATE CRASSENTELLAS so it was fun for her to find a new species she hadn’t collected before.
I was thrilled to find those tiny dried SEA URCHINS since we rarely see them that small (without having to pick through the SEA SQUIRTS that are still on Sanibel– hahaha) . Also, there were plenty of double JINGLES as well. It’s not as common to find the JINGLE with both valves but they were plentiful on Cayo and also at Gulfside City Park in the last weeks.
But my most thrilling find was a double WHITE CRESTED TELLIN! Yes, both valves still attached so I couldn’t believe my luck. I know it doesn’t look like much but I’ve been looking for one ever since I saw how pretty Nancy’s shell was in my post in 2011 called “I’m Tellin On Some Tellins“. I have found plenty of the single valves but this is my first one that was still together. Yay! Thanks to Nancy for sharing her find with me so I could have one more thing to look forward to the day I could find one.
Everybody on our shelling trip seemed to find something that made them happy and if it wasn’t a shell that they had wanted to find, each passenger received a $25 gift certificate to Sealife By Congress.
Wow! Thank you Sealife By Congress for being so good to the shelling community. Yes, you sure do make us happy. So join us on another iLoveShelling shelling adventure… CLICK HEREfor upcoming dates.
The only thing cloudy about our Captiva Cruises iLoveShelling trip to Cayo Costa were the live CLOUDY PERIWINKLES hiding in clusters on the tree roots at the south tip of the island.
It’s been such a month on the islands of spotting great wildlife. Everywhere I look, I am still seeing wonderful signs of healthy life… like these STRIPED FALSE LIMPETS and BARNACLES on those same tree roots with the PERIWINKLES.
Melissa, Juliana, Becky and Garrett from Colorado walked around those tree roots to find some nice empty shells as well.
They found a bag full of double SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS…
Sisters Teresa and Elaine from Pensacola, FL found some keepers on the Gulf side of the island.
Elaine collected oodles of different color JINGLES to use for a picture frame craft project.
D.J. from Avon Park, Florida found empty LETTERED OLIVES and an ANGEL WING wading knee high in the water.
Oh but wait… How could I forget? I have to tell you about the boat ride over to the island. We had a pod of DOLPHINS come over to say “Hi” to everybody on our boat.
When they swam closer to the boat, we could see there were 3 mother DOLPHINS… each with babies! If you look closely at this next photo, you can see the baby hugging up to the mother. So cute!
And the DOLPHINS weren’t the only wildlife coming up to say “Hi” to us… meet Casper The Friendly GHOST CRAB.
I have never seen a GHOST CRAB act so friendly! Seriously, “Casper” was not at all afraid of us and actually followed us on the beach. See? He got right in-between Sandy’s feet and hung out there for a few minutes.
He even ran into a shelling net like he wanted to play. hahaha What a character!
Even though the wildlife was exceptional, it was a wonderful day to meet exceptional people like Vicki and Bill from Arizona.
… And Melinda, Katelyn and Justin from Indiana. I especially loved meeting Katelyn since she knew all of the names of her shells but also loved all the wildlife she saw. Casper The Friendly GHOST CRAB didn’t want there to leave.
… And it was exceptional to see Marie’s beautiful family- Emily, Madison, Steve, Sandy and Ryan from Ohio. But… they were missing one Morgan, they all wanted me to tell you…. you’re next!
… And to see Bill, Michelle, Alyson and Anthony from Illinois.
I had met Michelle at Blind Pass Captiva last week when I stopped at the beach to see what the conditions were on the Captiva side by the jetty rocks. As I dug through the “picked over” shell pile, we got to talking and she told me she hadn’t found too many keeper shells but was just happy to be on the island enjoying everything else about the beach. That’s when I uncovered a beautiful FLAT SCALLOP with a tiny hole in the top. I handed it to Michelle and told her it was meant for her. I was soooo touched to see that she was on the cruise with her family AND that she made that FLAT SCALLOP into a gorgeous necklace with a little SEAHORSE charm. OMG I love that she made it into a special treasure to remember a special day we happened to meet. Shellers rock!
Lindsay had told me about an awesome HORSE CONCH she had found on Sanibel last week so when we got back to the dock at McCarthy’s Marina, she showed it to us. Wow! Lindsay, I’m so happy you showed it to us. That IS awesome and will clean up beautifully with a little elbow grease.
Even though the beach wasn’t piled up with mounds of shells this time, we were treated to a DOLPHIN show with babies, lots of friendly wildlife and most of all – a perfect day in paradise with a boat ride on calm waters full of happy people meeting an amazing community of likeminded shellers.
You won’t want to miss the upcoming shelling cruises! Check out the new dates CLICK HERE
When the weather on Sanibel and Captiva is in the high 70s and low 80s during the winter months like now, it’s hard not to be outside every minute of the day… so the world slips away. This weekend, Clark and I took a few walks on the beach at Gulfside City Park to find beautiful shells like the ones in my hand. Clark was scooping just at the waters edge with his big metal shelling backhoe to pull up the LACE MUREX (Lacie!) and that very cool HORSE CONCH. We both found more MUREXES, CONCHS and WHELKS but gave them to some nice folks on the beach. And then the fog started rolling in…then out…. then in again. It was wild!
Although you can only get to this beach if you are staying at South Seas Resort (or its a very long walk from Alison Hagerup Parking lot in Captiva)… if you are there, look for a nice shelly area near Sunset Beach…
It’s always a treat to find a SAND DOLLAR wash up at your feet.
I found a sweet baby SUNRAY VENUS right near the SAND DOLLAR.
And right next to the SUNRAY VENUS was this pretty little SPECKLED TELLIN. Weehoo!
After so much sand was pumped onto the beaches of Captiva a couple of months ago, some of it is already being claimed back by King Neptune. You can see two different erosion lines…
I could see shells stuck in the side of the erosion ledge so I started pulling a few out. Can you see that AUGER packed into the side?
I also pulled this bad boy out of the “cliff”. A FLAT SCALLOP. Voila!
Sending you warm sandy beach wishes of blue skies and cybershells…
Yep. I did it again. I got up at the crack of dawn to catch low tide… but this time I went to my fave beach on Fort Myers Beach. I found SAND DOLLARS galore!
And I wasn’t the only one finding them. I saw Ft Myers Beach local sheller Debbie (from our April iLoveShelling Cruise) with her hands full of SAND DOLLARS too.
But hold on… I’ve got to tell you the coolest story. Being obsessed with shelling reunited these friends after 20 years!
Back in February, Heidi (who follows iLoveShelling!) had signed up for our May Shellabaloo 2 and commented on the iLoveShelling Facebook page… “We did it!! We signed up for Shellabaloo 2! These two Kansas girls will be there with “shells” on!! Obsessed!!!”. Debbie saw her post and recognized her name and wrote her a message. Yes! It was the same Heidi she knew years ago when their kids grew up as best friends. Ha! Moms reunited! But unfortunately it turned out that Heidi had to cancel her Shellabaloo trip due to a health problem in the family. That’s when Debbie stepped in and told her when the health issues were resolved, Heidi had to come visit her in Fort Myers Beach to shell to her hearts content. She did.. And they found shells! They are two kindred spirits brought together again by the love of shelling. Here are Shelling Sistahs Heidi and Debbie…
Don’t ya just love that story? So it gets better… When Heidi showed up, Debbie told her that the only shell that she really wanted to find while she was there- was an ANGEL WING. It was their last shelling day together when I saw them and low and behold… que the Angelic choir in the background…. Debbie found the biggest ANGEL WING she could have ever imagined. LOL
We all found lots of other fun goodies too… like double SUNRAY VENUS CLAMS.
THIS Really spiny SPINY JEWLBOX…
Woop! There is it. A FLORIDA CONE.
These were all within 4 feet of each other just laying on the beach.
To make the morning even better, I saw Loree and Roy too! I met them for the first time on the June iLoveShelling cruise so it felt like it was old home week on Ft Myers Beach. So much fun to see you both!
Loree showed me that she found a pair of FALSE ANGEL WINGS and also a pair of SUNRAY VENUS too. It was interesting to me that she pulled them both out to show me so I asked her to take a look at their shapes of both the shells… don’t they look similar in shape other than their size? That’s because they are in the same family- Veneridae. The FALSE ANGEL WING is in the VENUS family instead of the “true” ANGEL WING family. Cool, huh?
I’m so happy I made it out for the Sunday morning low tide to catch the full moon over the horizon. If you want to catch a low tide any where near Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Captiva I would suggest shelling at least one hour before through at least one hour after the lowest tide of the day. Wanna check for the next low tides? Check out the Tide Charts HERE.
Meet other obsessed shellers or hang out with us to learn more tips to finding shells. Join us for a Shelling Adventure!