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

Sanibel Sculptured Art

Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 in Operculum, Sculptured Top Shell, Shark's Eye Operculum | 19 comments

Calliostoma euglyptum sculptured top

i Love to find a shell I’ve never found before! This might look like the regular TOP SHELL that we find on Sanibel fairly often but as soon as I picked this shell up, I knew something was different about it. It’ got a nice sculpture about it, right? Look closely and you’ll see the slightly rounded whorls in the side view. I found a SCULPTURED TOP SHELL!

top shell sculpture

Here is the SCULPTURED TOP SHELL on the left and our “regular” (to southwest Florida) TAMPA BAY TOP SHELL on the right. Now I can’t just say “TOP SHELL” any more… I’ll have to distinguish which one it is when I see it. Cool!

sculptured tampa bay top snail

So when I found my SCULPTURED TOP SHELL, I called Clark over to look at it and showed him the wrack line (which is the same as where I found the BABYS EAR and WENTLETRAP in my last post) at TARPON BAY RD beach access. Not one minute later, he looked down and picked this up…

clark shark eye operculum

It’s a SHARKS EYE OPERCULUM! Wow! I know it’s not pretty but I’ve always wondered why we never find them on the beach like we find other OPERCULUMS. This is the part of the MOLLUSK that protects it from predators. It’s a MOLLUSK’S front door.

Neverita duplicata operculum

It looks like a brown piece of SEA GLASS, doesn’t it? Well thats what Clark thought it was too when he picked it up and then we figured it out. Call me a geek but I got so excited to finally find one…. errr… well… that Clark found one. But it still comes home with me so I feel lucky too.

shark eye operculum clark

It has the shape and pattern of a BABYS EAR but it is paper thin with a slight curve.  Now I know why we dont find many. They are very very fragile once they separate from the MOLLUSK. The edges on both of these are very chipped and ragged and seem like the whole thing will disintegrate any second.

sharks eye operuclum

But then he found another one! Dude! We’ve gone forever without ever seeing one and then he pulls out finding 2 of them. Ha!

moon snail operculums

This past December, I shot a little video of a LIVE SHARKS EYE with his OPERCULUM doing its job of protecting him but I never even showed you because it’s the same day Mimi found her SEAHORSE. The video got lost in the shuffle with all the excitement of the SEAHORSE and then of course, the Christmas holiday. But I have never forgotten what it looked like and I want you to see it too.

Okay, lets go back to the “sculpture” bit…. if you arent as thrilled as I was to finally see what a SHARKS EYE beach washed OPERCULUM looks like, I’ll show you some cool BEACH ART we saw while at Tarpon Beach over the weekend. This artist had quite a sense of humor, man. Funny sculptures!

sand sculpture sanibel beach art

sculpture art tarpon beach

dont ask beach art sand

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A Golden Day Boating Around Marco

Posted by on Oct 10, 2011 in Bruised Nassa, Bryozoa, Dusky Cone, False Angel Wing, Florida Cone, Horse Conch, Sanibel, Top Shell, Turrid | 44 comments

john and the dingy

Our friends John and Jane strapped a Zodiac dinghy to the top of their car on Saturday and invited us to join them for a boating adventure down to Marco Island. Yes! We are always ready for a shelling expedition.

The whole day was golden…

Jane shelling marco

Literally! Both John and Clark found GOLDEN OLIVES!

Golden Olive Marco

Golden Olive aperture

When we all got back to the boat, everybody was showing off their best finds and both guys held out their hands holding the GOLDEN OLIVES…

two golden olive seashells

Look at this huuujah ANGEL WING Clark found. It fills my whole hand…

Angel wing huge

This was an ALPHABET CONE John found for the day.

John alphabet cone marco

These are Jane’s FLORIDA CONES. These are pretty golden too!

florida cones marco jane

Here are the rest of her best finds.

Janes finds

A nice 10 inch old crusty HORSE CONCH I found on the low tide sand bar…

crusty conch shell marco

I heard Clark yell and start waving his arms. Oh no, he di-ant! Another one? He couldn’t have found another you-know-what. I looked to see how far away he was since I was way out on the sand bar. See that little speck? That’s how far he was from me.

Clark on the beach Marco

Okay, might want to avert your eyes if you’ve had a bad day or just can’t stand the thought of Clark finding yet another J….. uh…. I can’t even say it. To show me where he found it, he had it sitting right where it was when he walked up. Here… see for yourself.

junonia on th shore marco

Really? How come I didn’t look there first? The man is a shell magnet. Here is a close up of his nearly perfect JUNONIA (just the tip is missing). I want to find one! Not that I’m jealous…. oh, geez. Of course I’m jealous! Oh I’m happy for Jane and “him” too…. I guess. ;) It even has a golden color to it too!

junonia close up

You know I’m just kidding about being upset I didn’t find the big J. How could I when I found so many beautiful shells on such an awesome day? Here are some of our other golden treasures…like candy!

horsie conchs in angel wing


Top Shells Marco


Bruised Nassa seashells


Tampa Turrids


False Angel Wings


Dusky Cones Marco

and even a cool BRYOZOAN COLONY…

Tubular Horn Bryozoan Ectoprocta

PS-  I popped off some of those crusty barnacles to uncover the shell of that HORSE CONCH I found out the sand bar. It’s beautiful! I found a home for it on my outside steps as a happy welcome to our Shell Shack.

10 inch fighting conch on step



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Shells of a Different Color

Posted by on Jan 25, 2011 in Florida Spiny Jewelbox, Jewel Box, Lace Murex, Murex, Sand Dollar, Top Shell, True tulip, Tulip | 18 comments

True Tulip Shells

Color wheel of True Tulip Shells

After I left the beach at Blind Pass Sunday morning, I just knew there should have been more shell piles coming in from the strong north west winds from Saturday. Unfortunately, I had to run out of town for a few days so I left before the shells got stirred up enough to reach the beach. I heard Sunday afternoon (right after I left) was the best shelling day all week with oodles of LIGHTNING WHELKS and TULIPS washing up on Sanibel around Middle gulf Drive. I’m so happy for the lucky shellers (Sunny and Cshells!) who hit that Sunday seashell jackpot. Although I would have loved to see the Sunday shelling madness, I still haven’t gotten over our finds from last Thursday, so here are more photos of our colorful beauties from that awesome day.

Marco Lace Murex aperture

Lace Murex aperture

I’m always overwhelmed by how beautiful a LACE MUREX can be.

Spiney Jewel Box

Spiney Jewel Box

I’ve never found such a colorful SPINEY JEWEL BOX like this before last week and both sides were still together. Gorgeous.

Top Shells

Top Shells

Who knew TOP SHELLS came in so many different colors?

Marco Sand Dollars

Sand Dollars

These were the best of about ten SAND DOLLARS but not all of them made it back in one piece. I also heard that people are finding SAND DOLLARS off Middle Gulf Drive the past few days. All three of these TRUE TULIPS (2 to 3 inches) below were found by Super Sheller Clark. The middle one looks like it was made of dark chocolate… talk about rich color!

True Tulips

True Tulips

We had high south winds today and are expecting high north west winds tomorrow so I will be checking Middle Gulf Drive beaches and Blind Pass the next few days. Stir it up, baby!

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Day Trip to Little Hickory

Posted by on Jul 18, 2010 in Fighting Conch, Horse Conch, King's Crown, Lace Murex, Little Hickory Beach, low tide, Nutmeg, Pear Whelk, Shark's Eye, Top Shell, True tulip, Worm Shell | 13 comments

Little Hickory jetty rocks

Kinda looks like Captiva’s Blind Pass, right? Nope. We took a little day trip down to Little Hickory in Bonita springs for a shelling adventure. Our blog buddy Carla told us about the north end of Little Hickory  and posted some pictures on the iLoveShelling facebook page which got us antsy to check it out. It’s only about 40 minutes from Sanibel (if that) going through Fort Myers Beach so it was no problem to find it and the parking is easy (just look for the signs) and hang a right when you get on the beach.

Little Hickory beach access

Little Hickory jetties

2 fighting conchs at low tide

Little Hickory seashell collection

We found lots of fighting conchs! We normally don’t pick up or keep FIGHTING CONCHS any more but we collected these for Jesse at The Mucky Duck. We haven’t been finding many shells other than minis (not that there’s anything wrong with that :))on Sanibel lately and Jesse is low on “stock”. He’ll have plenty for a while and they are absolutely perfect.

Little Hickory low tide

This was obviously low tide, so many shells were just barely covered by sand. It was so much fun seeing a tiny bit of a NUTMEG, TULIP or WORM SHELL peeking out of the sand, digging around it with my toe, seeing it was whole, then reaching down to find a keeper. We found lots of broken CONES but we weren’t lucky enough to find any to bring home but we were still happy with our haul. These were our best finds….

Little Hickory best seashells

From top left to right- SHARK’S EYE, WORM SHELL, NUTMEG, 3 TRUE TULIPS then a JUVENILE HORSE CONCH (candy!), MOON SHELL, the first smaller shell is a baby LACE MUREX (so cute!), baby KINGS’ CROWN, PEAR WHELK, WORM TOP. Then a KING’S CROWN, another MOON then a  TOP SHELL. Sorry the picture isn’t that great to see them up close. We only put 2 hours worth of quarters in the meter so our time was running out.

Big Hickory Seafood Grille

We had a really good lunch after working up a big appetite out on the beach. Right across the street from the parking lot is Big Hickory Seafood Grille. Yum!

Thanks, Carla, for giving us this day trip shelling tip. It was well worth the short drive (no traffic this time of year) and we had fun exploring another area.

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Mini Shells On The Causeway

Posted by on Nov 16, 2009 in Conch, Limpet, Sanibel Causeway, Top Shell, Whelk | 0 comments

Mini Shells

Mini Shells

I am so disappointed that I didn’t get out for more shelling today because we have a new moon. The pull of the moon is very strong during a new moon or a full moon so the tides are extreme. We had a very low tide today so that means you get to see more on the bed of the gulf. If you get to see and go further out than normal then there is a better chance you’ll find the bigger shells that haven’t made it to the shore yet.

I did get to stop on one of the islands on the causeway today. I mostly find the tiny shells on these islands as I did today. I think these little teeny weeny WHELKS, KEYHOLE LIMPETS, CONCHS and even TOP SHELLS are adorable.

We’ll catch the low, low tide on the next full moon or new moon.

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Sister Shellers’ Bounty

Posted by on Nov 15, 2009 in Cockle, Conch, Cone, Jingle, Limpet, Murex, Olive, Scallop, Top Shell, Tulip, Whelk | 0 comments

Sister Shellers' Bounty

Sister Shellers' Bounty

I’m so excited that Marie and Polly emailed me this picture of what they found their shelling day at Blind Pass that I posted on my November 12 blog post.

Wow! Look at everything they found………   and so colorful!  I see tons of pretty purple and orange CALICO SCALLOPS, WHELKS of all sizes- some huge!, FIGHTING CONCHS, COCKLES, BANDED TULIPS, TRUE TULIP, MUREXES, LACE MUREX, WORM SHELLS (love ‘em!), LETTERED OLIVES, a MOONSNAIL, CALICO CLAMS, a HORSE CONCH, and some JINGLES. They said they had such a great time and wished they could have come back the next day.

Blind Pass shells at sunset

Blind Pass shells at sunset

The shell mound is still there but the sand is filling in so the beach is almost to the end of the jetty. This picture is at sunset tonight. The mound has been really picked over for the bigger shells but if you still want CALICOS and other SCALLOPS, CLAMS or shell crafting shells you are still in luck.

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