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

I See A Sea Of Beach Bling

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 in Brown Spiny Sea star, Long-Spined Urchin, Millipede Starfish, Purple Sea Urchin, Sea Life, Starfish, Urchin | 30 comments

sea urchin colors in the sand

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!

wentletraps and sea urchins-1

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.

Sanibel sea stars and urchins-1

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….

Sanibel beach buoys-1

And of course seashells.

pile of seashells around tree roots-1

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.

pear whelk among seahsells-1

Pam-rambo-sanibel-shell-trips

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An Adventure In Paradise with Captiva Cruises

Posted by on Sep 20, 2015 in Baby's Ear, Captiva, Captiva Cruises, Cayo Costa, Purple Sea Urchin, Seashells, Urchin, West Indian Sea Egg | 9 comments

seashells on purple

We had quite an adventure on our iLoveShelling trip to Cayo Costa on Friday. The morning started out with rain but our die hard group of shellers waited it out until our Captiva Cruises captains Jorge and Carlos made sure we could make it safely to the island.

boarding captiva cruises boat

We ended up going to the north side of Cayo Costa to dock at the ranger station (which is not the usual place we go for the iLoveShelling trips). The we hopped aboard the “shell shuttle” (they really don’t call it that- I kinda just made that up. But hmmm.. but they should, right?) to take us to the beach and back.

riding shell tram on cayo costa
It turned out to be a beautiful day and the beach was loaded with dried washed up SEA URCHINS.

sea urchin on the beach

They were everywhere.

seaweed seashells and sea urchins of sw florida

The colors were abshellutely gorgeous with green, pink, purple, beige and lavender.

sea urchin colors

It was so much fun seeing Martha again from our July trip (CLICK HERE) and she told me she was still looking for a BABYS EAR. There were quite a few people on the last trip that found them but she wasnt one of the lucky ones. So on the boat ride over to the island this time, I told her the north side of the island wasn’t normally the place to look for them so she probably wouldn’t find one. Well she proved me wrong! haha As soon as we got to the beach, there was a BABYS EAR sitting right in the middle wrack line. Omigosh! And then Martha found another one. It goes to show you… don’t ever think that you can outwit Mother Nature. Congrats Martha!

martha found a baby ear

Ron and Rene from PA had some shelltastic luck with finding not just URCHINS, but so many OLIVES too.

collecting shells and beach treasures

But I think Rene’s fave was that sweet double SUNRAY VENUS.

seashells and sea urchins

Jay and Jane from Georgia found all sorts of cool shell loot. Look at Jane… she can’t take her eyes off such fun finds. heehee

finding treasures in florida

Tim and Fran (Ohio) found a few faves but check out the size of Fran’s huge SHARKS EYE. Y’all are so much fun! Oh and sorry again Fran for throwing you under the bus- haha.

finding shells on a shelling trip cruise

John and Dee from Illinois along with Bart and Laurie from Pennsylvania found a few keepers but I think their faves were the SAND DOLLARS- look at those smiles. Dee, it was such a pleasure to talk with you and meet you. You are soooo dear!

happy collecting shells on cayo costa

Cuties Julie and Ron from California found a few treasures too. It’s always so much fun to hang out on the boat and to see who found what- shell ‘n tell!

shelling trip to cayo costa florida

I think Terry and Michelle from Arkansas were as obsessed at seeing so many SEA URCHINS as I was. Michelle and I kept saying  “… and theres another one! … and look at that color!”.

shelling cayo costa

As you can see, some of them still had some of their spines but the insides were completely empty. It was fun to see them in so many different variations.

sea urchins of sw florida

Meet Jochen, Katja and their son Benedikt. They have fantastic sheller eyes especially for visiting from Germany since they are the ones that found the shells on the purple tray in the top photo. Way to go!

family on cayo costa island

You have to meet Jessica and Trudy from Ontario Canada. Jessica scored the one thing she wanted find on our trip- a SAND DOLLAR. What I found out is that she is an artist and she makes SAND DOLLARS… out of dough. She is a master confectioner and she brought me some of her cookies!

 

sweet shellers on shell cruise

OMG they are yummy and sooooo beautiful. Here’s a photo she took of the amazing sealife cookies on Instagram since they didn’t last long enough for me to take a photo of them … Clark and I devoured them. Thank you Jessica!

seashell and sealife cookies edible art

 

It was an amazing, adventurous day with such fun shellers!

number 5 beach bouy

And… as with all iLoveShelling cruisesCongress Jewelers (Sealife By Congress) gave everybody a $25 gift certificate to use in their store- they are so generous to the shelling community!

Sealife By Congress Jewelers

An adventure in paradise- It was surely a day to remember!

beach path to paradise cayo costa florida

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Wild Sanibel Continues

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Coquina, Lined Sea Star, Millipede Starfish, Purple Sea Urchin, Starfish, Urchin | 19 comments

Sanibel live colorful coquinas

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.

Live coquina shells in the water

After a few days of west winds, bunches of Beach Bling washed ashore near the Sanibel fishing pier earlier this week.

Sanibel lighthouse shells and beach bling

We’ve been seeing hundreds of live LINED STARFISH and beautiful purple SEA WHIPS in the water.

Florida Gulf lined starfish with purple sea whip

There are so many 9 armed MILLIPEDE STARFISH as well…

9 arms Millipede Starfish Sea Star

This was one of the biggest live TRUE TULIPS I’ve seen in a while at low tide. Gorgeous and healthy.

Sanibel live true tulip

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.

Sanibel Mangrove Salt Marsh snake Florida Gulf

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.

Orange Sanibel florida Mangrove Salt Marsh snake non venomous in water

Just last night, Monica from Ocala found a few striking shells along with the brilliant test of a Purple SEA URCHIN.

Sanibel Sea urchin and sea shells

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!

Maria Monrovia found a horse conch

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.

Sanibel Paper fig, sea urchin and conchs

 

Join me on a Shelling Adventure! For more information and dates CLICK HERE.

pam rambo shelling trips

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

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How To Clean Sea Urchins Video Tutorial

Posted by on Feb 8, 2015 in Aristotle's Lantern, Cleaning Seashells, How To Clean Sea Urchin Video tutorial, Purple Sea Urchin, Urchin | 20 comments

Dried Sanibel Sea Urchins

“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.

Second option:

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.

cleaning dried sea urchin with aristotle lantern inside

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).

aristotle's lantern mouth of sea urchins in jar

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.

Gulf Coast Sea Urchins in bleach and water

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!

drying sea urchins

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.

Hardening sea urchins with elmer's glue and water

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!

sea urchins from sanibel

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.

pam rambo shelling trips

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Masses Of Sea Urchins On Sanibel Island

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Aristotle's Lantern, Long-Spined Urchin, Purple Sea Urchin, Urchin | 30 comments

Sea urchin echinoderms wash up on Sanibel beach

All along Sanibel’s shore this week, SEA URCHINS have washed up on the beach (along with all sorts of other cool things!) after strong winds last week.

Mass of Sanibel sea urchins

Have you ever seen the inside of a SEA URCHIN? This one had been crushed (and decayed) but the only thing that happen to be still in tact was its mouth laying on the beach. When we see just this part of a SEA URCHIN we call it the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN.

aristotles lantern in sea urchin

We don’t see the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN laying alone on the beach completely in tact very often since each part of the mouth like the five teeth that it using for chewing will get very brittle and fall apart after it dries out. In the next photo, on the left you can see the crushed TEST (the shell-like part) exposes the ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN and the one on the right has only a small part of the center mouth showing because its TEST is completely in tact.

Sanibel sea urchin and Aristotle's lantern

You can see the teeth showing in this SEA URCHIN (this is the opposite end of ARISTOTLE’S LANTERN thats showing in the previous photo)..

Dead sea urchin with teeth showing

This next photo is what it looks like completely out of the SEA URCHIN. The bottom part  is where the teeth come out (like in the above photo) and the top end is what’s showing in the example of the one laying on the beach (on the left) two photos up. See? It sure does look like a little lantern to me… and it even has a little candle on the top- heehee.

aristotle's lantern mouth of sea urchin

Cool, huh? There are so many awesome things that wash up on our beaches!!!

sea urchins from sanibel

Can you tell if a SEA URCHIN is alive or not? Watch my video to show the difference…

Don’t miss the boat for future iLoveShelling Shelling Adventure excursions….  reserve your spot now-  CLICK HERE for more info. 

pam rambo shelling trips

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Massive Mound Of Seashells

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Blind Pass, Bryozoa, Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Lighthouse, Purple Sea Urchin, Texas Longhorn Bryozoa, Urchin | 26 comments

massive shells on Captiva island florida

Be still my beating heart!! Seeing this awesome sight of a massive mound of shells sure does get the blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing.

Captiva island mound of sea shells

Blind Pass Captiva was rocking yesterday afternoon with shells rolling in with every wave. I stood on top of the mound to see Barb from St Louis pick up a gorgeous orange FLAT SCALLOP.

barb from st louis found flat scallop shell on captiva florida

Debbie from Cape Coral found her first part of a JUNONIA which is the perfect size to make into a necklace or other piece of jewelry.

debbie from cape coral finds top of junonia on captiva island

I was thrilled to see that Sharon from Orlando found a very cool piece of bling…

sharon from orlando finds a texas longhorn on Captiva island Florida

… Two different TEXAS LONGHORNS! This is great BEACH BLING! If you missed my post about them in January, you should read this post … CLICK HERE.

texas longhorn bryozoa captiva

Yesterday morning, I was at Gulfside City Park to find a wrack line of shells as far as I could see. Seeing a long string of shells like this along the shore gets my heart pumping too but once I start picking through them, it has a different effect on me… I relax and zone out everything else in the world. Love, love, love.

seashells wash up on sanibel island florida in april

These are some of my gorgeous treasures…

seashells and beach bling on sanibel island florida

On my last post when I showed you that crazy STARFISH eating the SEA URCHIN, I didn’t get a chance to show you some of the other cool things I found at Lighthouse Beach just after the storms came through.

beach at sanibel lighthouse before the storm

I met Pam and Steve from Iowa as he was scooping up shells to bring to her to sort. It reminded me of that video of the Shellingmen Tribe I did last year. LOL

shelling at the Sanibel lighthouse with rain

They were collecting DISK DOSINIAS, BANDED TULIPS and APPLE MUREXES.

bag of Sanibel shells with dosinias

They even found a perfect PURPLE SEA URCHIN.

pam found purple sea urchin

I still have so many other cool things but they will have to wait but just so you know…. Most beaches along Southwest Florida today should till be very good shelling conditions. So if you are any where near a swfl beach, get going! Just try your luck at finding at least one sweet treasure.

seashells wash up around jetty rocks

Oh… and I added a button on the right side on this page about my camera. I constantly get asked what type of camera I use so I decided its time I just made a page about it. I’ve tried to get fancy and buy several really high end cameras with big zoom lenses but it never works out since I end up worrying about my camera instead of enjoying my time beach combing. So I stick with this one because I can capture a great photo or video while I am enjoying my time on the beach (FYI- its not waterproof though).

my panasonic camera


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