Archive for Urchin
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
Finding perfectly dried beautiful SEA BISCUITS, URCHINS and fragile shells like RAMS HORNS on the beach is always an exciting experience during our vacations.
We found all of these gems last week on Anegada Island in the British Virgin Islands while combing the white sandy beaches surrounded by light turquoise waters.
Its amazing to me that such lovely and fragile pieces of natural art can be found laying in the sand completely intact and unbroken by the sea. RAM’S HORNS (Spirula spirula– the internal shell of a SQUID- ) are so brittle I’m always afraid they will break in my suitcase when traveling home so I have to plan my packing. (And yes! That’s a HAMBURGER BEAN I found- so excited!)
That’s why choosing a few specimens to bring home gets difficult knowing we have to pack them to survive airport luggage handling and my own klutzy mishaps with carry-ons. I’ve learned through the years, we must get creative in our packaging… use everything we already have. I bought a few Tervis tumbler souvenirs with sippy lids (I told you I was a klutz) so I packed some of our SEA URCHINS in the cup then added RAMS HORNS wrapped in bath tissue to fill the top. The key is to pack a container so that nothing rattles or moves inside the container and nothing can crush it.
Just to make it even more snug, I pushed the cup into Clark’s dive bootie as another layer of cushion. I pushed it all the way down into the foot part of the bootie- it doesn’t take much more room in your luggage that way.
Not one broke!
We always take at least one plastic lidded container with us to our beach destination filled with snacks or something so we will have space in the luggage for treasures on our return trip. This was perfect container to safely travel with SEA BISCUITS and a shellmungus SEA URCHIN Clark found. If you don’t take a container with you, then while on vacation buy chicken or fruit salad for lunch one day and save the plastic container and lid for packing your shells. Choose tubs/cups/containers that won’t crush when you have the lid on them.
Since this wasn’t a small, tight space like the Tervis cups, I wrapped each URCHIN, SEA BISCUIT and bright pink PEN SHELL (Clark filled the inside of the PEN SHELL with tissue as well to keep it from crushing) and other fragiles in the container….
But instead of being excessive with the tissue, I wrapped the larger URCHINS with my sun shirts to give them more padding and to fill the empty spaces so nothing would move inside when I put the lid on it. Make sure you don’t pack it too tightly so it bulges when the top is secure. Wrap a tee shirt around the closed container and made sure that it was in the middle of my luggage with padding around the corners.
I ended up putting a SPECKLED TELLIN pair and a SUNRISE TELLIN pair (Clark’s finds) in with these fragile pieces too… Oh and my SCOTCH BONNET…
They all made it without breaking!
Since I got them home in one piece and they are still a little sandy… now to rinse and clean them. Most of these URCHINS and SEA BISCUITS were already pure white after being bleached out by the sun and sand so all we did is rinse them off while on vacation but didn’t do a great job. It’s a good thing I just wrote instructions for cleaning URCHINS from Sanibel before we left for vacation – for SEA URCHIN cleaning tutorial CLICK HERE.
I still have a few more containers with the tough solid shells and BEACH GLASS we found on our sailing trip in the BVIs so I’ll show my packing job on those for my next post. Until then…
PS- For more tips on packing fragile beach combing treasures for transporting home from your trip…
“How do you clean SEA URCHINS?”
I was asked this question countless time last week after posting photos of Masses Of Sea Urchins On Sanibel Island last week (to see the article CLICK HERE). So now Im going to do better than tell you… Im going to show you!
I only collect SEA URCHINS that are in the high and dry wrack line on the beach – they are never damp so I know for sure they aren’t alive. I love the ones that have already lost their spines and have a big empty hole in the center since most of the cleaning has already done by Mother Nature. But if Mother Nature hasn’t had time to do our cleaning for us, we have a couple of options.
First option- leave your SEA URCHINS outside in the sun for several weeks and let the spines fall off and shake the “crumbs” from the inside. Easy peazy but it takes a while.
If the spines of your dry URCHINS don’t come off by gently rubbing your fingers against the test (body), place your SEA URCHINS in a bucket of water for a couple of hours. Take one out at a time and pinch and rub the spines off. Use a brush if you want or wear rubber gloves if you have tender skin.
While handling your URCHINS, sometimes you will hear the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN (the mouth) inside the URCHIN so if you remove all of the “skin” or fleshy parts around the center mouth with a dental pick, you can usually pull or shake the dried pieces of mouth (or jaw) out of the URCHIN. If you are lucky, the whole piece will come out in tact. If the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN comes out in one piece, I save it – don’t ask me why, I just think they are cool (? heehee).
Once the SEA URCHINS are spineless and hollow, place them in a bleach water solution. I used about 1/8 bleach to water. In this plastic shoebox size container, I used 3 capfuls of beach.
After an hour or so, rinse them in fresh water then leave them out in the sun to dry. The URCHINS get even more brittle if you leave them in the bleach solution for too long but I do leave some in a little longer so that they will be a lighter shade that the others. I like the different colors!
Once they are clean and dry, you will probably want to harden and preserve your SEA URCHINS. Mix a solution of Elmer’s glue with water. I guesstimate about 50/50 but I don’t worry too much if I have more glue than water- it always seems to work out. You can either be neat and paint the glue solution on your URCHINS or you can dunk. I prefer pouring the glue solution inside the URCHIN then dunking the whole thing in the glue cup then spreading it with my hands (I’m messy like that!). I place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on my tray then let the glue covered SEA URCHIN dry.
Still have questions? Check out the video tutorial I made to show you each step of the process. CLICK HERE to see it on my YouTube Channel or click on the next image.
This is what the finished SEA URCHINS look like. There are several different types of SEA URCHINS from Sanibel so each one tends to be a little different. Beautiful!
PS- Never take live SEA URCHINS. If you dont know how to tell if they are still alive CLICK HERE.
Join me on an iLoveShelling Shelling Adventure trip! CLICK HERE for dates and reservations.