Navigation Menu

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

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

Read More

Mind Blowing Beach Bling in Guantanamo Bay

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Caribbean Shells, Club Spined Sea Urchin, Cuba Seashells, Green Sea Urchin, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Long-Spined Urchin, Sea Bean, Sea Fan, sea glass, Urchin, Variegated Sea Urchin, West Indian Sea Egg, World shelling | 20 comments

collecting sea glass in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Do you get excited when you find SEA GLASS? Me too! It’s another beautiful gem most beachcombers love to collect while looking for shells and other BEACH BLING on any walk on any beach. Oddly enough, lots of our friends don’t really get why we travel the world in search of beach treasure… until I tell them we found a honey hole for SEA GLASS. Then their ears perk up! LOL Well, since it’s impossible to bring back enough SEAGLASS in our suitcase for everybody who wants some from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba… here is a CYBERSHELLING (CYBER-SEAGLASSING) photo from last week’s adventure on Glass Beach in Gtmo (CLICK HERE for the history of this SEAGLASS). Just click on the next photo to enlarge it so you can find your own SEA GLASS. Fun! Then I’ll show you some of the other cool BLING we found.

Glass Beach guantanamo Gtmo seaglass

In my last post (CLICK HERE), I showed you some of the beautiful shells and areas we combed but couldn’t really explain how much fun Clark, me, Lee and Susan had picking through the high tide dry wrack lines in search of Bling. See that incredible SEA FAN Susan found? Un-beee-liev-able!

Rambo and Merrill shelling beach in Guantanamo Bay Cuba GTMO

I just loooove me some Bling! I’m trying to identify all of the different SEA URCHINS we found but it is not so easy. I’ll try to get close up photos of each one but oh lawd, I need more time. So … I’m almost positive we have…. WEST INDIAN SEA EGGS, VARIEGATED URCHINS, LONG-SPINED URCHINS, CLUB-SPINED URCHINS, ROCK-BORING URCHINS and SEA BISCUITS. We could  have picked up hundreds of the CLUB-SPINED SEA URCHINS that had probably gotten tossed up by a storm weeks before. They were in the highest wrack line and completely dried and preserved. Cool!

We also brought home SEA HEARTS, HAMBURGER BEANS (SEA BEANS), a few pieces of CORAL, 2 small SEA FANS, a few VERTEBRAE, PURPLE CRAB shells (haven’t looked them up yet), OPERCULUMS, old turquoise CUBAN TILES and… you see that piece of striped POTTERY on the bottom right? Lee told me that piece probably dates back to the Spanish- American war era circa 1898. Amazing, right?

Gtmo Beach Bling urchins, sea beans, pottery chards, crabs, operculums

Lee found these pieces of POTTERY from the same era. Wow- Its almost a complete plate! He said he will donate some of the pieces to the base for history and environmental research.  (Errrr…. my piece came home with me- it’s way too cool! heehee)

Spanish pottery fragments in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Talk about cool… I found two complete old Cuban Hatuey beer GLASS BOTTLES made in the 1950s. These were so popular, Bacardi is now making this beer again.

Hatuey Beer bottles Cuba circa 1948 found in Gtmo

More awesome BLING on the beach! Lee found this WWII US Navy uniform button while he was picking through the rock and pebbles looking for SEAGLASS like in the CYBERSHELLING pic. Whoot Whoot!

Vintage US Navy button found on beach

Let me show you just a few more shell photos before I sign out for the day…. Clark found these spectasheller THORNY OYSTERS that haven’t even been really cleaned up yet. They are gorgeous. We find these in SW Florida but most times they are only fragments.

Thorny Oysters Spondylus americanus found Guantanamo Gtmo Cuba

Here’s the interior of one…

Thorny Oysters Spondylus americanus interior Guantanamo Gtmo Cuba

Lee found the mac daddy of the THORNY OYSTERS- it’s huge and with some good spines…. Both sides!

Lee with double thorny oyster

It was completely packed with hard mud and limestone so it will take a little work to get this baby cleaned up but it will be well worth it. It’s a beauty!

double thorny oyster gtmo cuba

I always think these are so funny…. the BLEEDING TOOTH. Shall I say more?

Bleeding Tooth shells Nerita peloronta Gtmo Cuba

These are some of my favorite minis we found this trip… BEADED MITERS.

Beaded Miter shell Mitra nodulosa Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

Clark was excited (and me too) to find this HEXAGONAL MUREX since we’ve never found one before.

Muricopsis oxytata Hexagonal Murex Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

It’s always a thrill to find a new shell!

Muricopsis oxytata Hexagonal Murex Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

Again, we have to thank Lee and Susan for sponsoring us, being our shelling guides and letting us share this extraordinary place with everybody to learn what types of shells we can all find in the other Caribbean Islands. We are forever grateful.

Lee and Susan Merrill Guantanamo Bay sunset

I will get more shells cleaned up and photographed soon but the FLAME HELMETS are so shellsational, I had to add show you these before I go out and hit my home beach. It was fabulous finding shells in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba but it’s always so wonderful to be back home on Sanibel Island… especially with a cool evening low tide. Have a nice weekend!

Flame helmet Cassis Flammea  Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

Read More

Bringing On The Beachcombing

Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 in Alternate Tellin, Banded tulip, Helmet, Lion's Paw, Long-Spined Urchin, Rocksnail, Tarpon Beach Sanibel, Thorny Oyster, West Indian Sea Egg | 16 comments

Finding seashells on Sanibel Island Florida on Tarpon Beach

There is nothing more exciting than seeing shells line the beach as far as the horizon.

shells for miles on Sanibel Island Florida

At Tarpon Road beach access (mid island on Sanibel)… that’s what we saw yesterday- miles of shells. Amy from Alabama was a happy girl be able to witness this beautiful site as well.

Amy from Huntsville finds shells on Sanibel Island Florida

She found oodles of APPLE MUREXES and FIGHTING CONCHS in a wide assortment of colors, patterns and textures along with some other beauties.

seashells collected at Tarpon Beach Sanibel Island

I ooohed and ahhhed over her best find (well, her best find to me anyway) which was this ROCK SHELL. Its not often I see these shells so I was excited for Amy that she found one.

rock shell at Tarpon Bay Rd Beach

I saw Ellie from Wisconsin holding her hand in a way to protect something delicate.

ellie from Wisconsin finds shells in Florida

It was a gorgeous double ALTERNATE TELLIN with colors of yellow, pink and mauve. It looks like a beautiful butterfly!

holding a Sanibel seashell

I was thrilled to find a LONG-SPINED URCHIN and a WEST INDIAN SEA URCHIN to add to my mix of treasures (OLIVES, CONCHS, TINTED CANTHARUS, NUTMEG, ROUGH SCALLOP, dark rich BANDED TULIP, a WORMIE and …. candy!)

sea urchins and shells collected on Sanibel Island

Then I walked the beach at BLIND PASS Sanibel to see Michelle from Illinois (right) with her family Mary, Mike, Patti and Molly. she was carrying a strange looking shell so I stopped her.

mary mike patti molly michelle from illinois shelling sanibel

OMG its the lip of verrrry large HELMET shell. Wow! HELMETS are from Caribbean so to see the lip of that shell in such good shape and color was impressive. She also found a nice THORNY OYSTER too. Good eye, Michelle!

helmet lip and thorny oyster

I saw Justin and Jeff from Connecticut scooping in the water and Bonnie combing the beach about a mile from the pass (the furthest point in the background).

justin bonnie jeff conn shelling sanibel

They were having a ball finding some really nice shells like TULIPS, WHELKS and huge COCKLES. They said they were just as happy to find shells as being here to enjoy this awesome weather.

justins shells

Krystal S posted on iLS Facebook all the shells they found yesterday morning at Blind Pass Sanibel….

shells by Krystal S Facebook

Molly P posted there as well to show us she found this LIONS PAW this week on the Captiva side of Blind Pass. Congratshellations, to all of you!

lions paw Molly P facebook

Keep ’em coming, Mother Nature!

Sanibel beach filled with shells

Read More

Finding A Pot Of Gold

Posted by on Jun 12, 2013 in Live Sand Dollar, Rainbows, Sand Dollar, Sea anemone, True tulip, Urchin, West Indian Sea Egg | 17 comments

family water seashells captiva

 The beach at Captiva’s Blind Pass near the jetty rocks was an absolutely gorgeous aqua blue yesterday… and that’s where SaraBeth, Todd, Pati and Kate from Texas were finding their turquoise pot with golden treasures.

turquoise shell bucket bp

Danielle from North Carolina found this bucket of golden shells in the water too along with her family in the background. See how close they were to the jetty rocks? It was calm and clear- so completely different from last week when TS Andrea came through.

daniel nc shelling captiva

All of the shelling action was in the water so Mikey, Linda and Mike from Tampa, FL were chest deep in the water too having a ball scooping up CONCHS, WHELKS and a variety of shells. They know if the shells arent on the beach… get in the water to look for them! Most likely you will find something golden and you’ll have a great time looking.

mikey linda mike seashells captiva

I also want to show you all of the live creatures that are around Lighthouse Beach this week. Michael R found this WEST INDIAN SEA EGG (URCHIN) in one of the tidal pools at low. It really doesn’t show up well in this photo but the spines were a beautiful pink tint. Thanks for showing it to me Michael before you put it back in the water.

west indian sea egg sanibel

Its always a treat to see such a laaaarge healthy TRUE TULIP scooting along the shallow waters. I thought he wanted to be in a little deeper water so I put him in a tidal pool that just covered his shell but he made a “U-ie” and went right back to shallow water. Okay, dude- I get it. I’ll leave you alone next time. :)

live tulip scoot sanibel

There were thousands of live SAND DOLLARS everywhere! I thought this one was so interesting since it was so light in color but very much still alive… And that he had repaired himself from an injury.

live repaired sand dollar

We normally don’t see SEA ANEMONES like this one laying on top of the sand like I found this one. Weird, huh? But it was still alive so I hope he survived after I put him back in the water.

white sea anemonae

We’ve had rain on and off this whole week so it’s been fun to see so many RAINBOWS! This one stretched along the horizon to remind us that Southwest Florida is an amazing pot of gold.

rainbow over Sanibel beach path

I’ve got some fun news…  We reached 6000 “Likes” on our iLoveShelling Facebook Page! Wahoo! Thank you Lisa Rothman for being our 6000th shelling friend!

6000 facebook  likes

One more thing…Only a few days left to enter to win a shelling vacation on Sanibel! Enter now so CLICK HERE!

Seashell Island Shelling Vacation

Read More

Paradise, Pelicans and Palm Trees

Posted by on Dec 19, 2011 in Pelican, West Indian Sea Egg | 19 comments

seashells on Captiva i love shelling

What? Christmas is here in just one week? Even in paradise it’s just such a busy time so I’ve fallen down on the job of getting out the shelling news in the last few days. I’m so sorry! The photo above is Blind Pass Captiva this past week with a nice wrack line of shells on the Pass side of the jetty where I met Marie, Jack and Alberta…

marie, jack, alberta shelling sisters

Jet and Laura were tickled with their treasures of COCKLES and FIGHTING CONCHS…

Jet, Laura captiva blind pass shells

On the Sanibel side of Blind Pass is where I saw Shelling Sistahs Sandi and Ginger – look at her full on shelling gear!

Sandi Ginger Sanibel shelling tools

Then I met SS Eileen who joined in on the fun of talking shelling. Did you notice the SS before Eileen’s name? It’s Shelling Sistah! This will be fun! When I introduce people who know us here on i Love Shelling, I’ll add the “SS” so you know they are Shelling Sistahs or Shelling Siblings or Stock (for the guys?). I know I’m silly but I really do feel like we all have some sort of kinship or kindred sprits….like we all have the same sand running through our blood.

Eileen Connecticut Sanibel seashells

This is an unedited video of the changes of Blind Pass taken on the Captiva side last week. (Sorry it’s a little/lotta belated!) I can’t believe I lost a BITTERSWEET but I’m glad I didn’t fuss about it too long because there is always something else that washes in. Enjoy the vid then I have a few more photos for you…

A long West Gulf Drive I found another WEST INDIES SEA EGG URCHIN…

West indian Sea egg

sea egg mouth

I always enjoy the PELICANS, but to see them fly directly above me in vee formation is always spectacular.

pelican sky vee

PELICANS and palm trees….. ahhhh… paradise.

pelicans fly over palms

Read More

Two True Tulips In One Whopping Week

Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 in Fighting Conch, Sanibel, True tulip, West Indian Sea Egg | 28 comments

Nick Hahn tulips close up

I got a call from friend and shelling guide Captain Brian about this guy Nick Hahn who comes to Sanibel every year and is a shell magnet. This year in only one week, he found these two huge colorful TRUE TULIPS! He found one at Cayo Costa (on one of the out islands on a shelling trip) and the second one he found in between Blind Pass Sanibel and Bowmans Beach. He said he even found a few more but they were alive so he had to put those back.

nick Hahn true tulips

He also found a white spined SEA URCHIN that someone told him was special. Hmmm. I’ve seen a few of these on the beach but I just assumed they were just bleached by the sun. So when I saw this one with all of his other beach combing  treasures, I looked it up. Sure enough, there is a WEST INDIAN SEA EGG found in Florida (but mostly more south in the Caribbean) with white spines.

Tripneustes ventricosus sea egg

After looking closer, the test is of this URCHIN is almost black instead of the purplish color of the PURPLE SEA URCHIN that we often see after a storm. I’ll have to add this to my Beach Bling Identification page!

Tripneustes ventricosus sea egg mouth

 Isn’t it so appropriate that he also found this very unusual pattern on a FIGHTING CONCH with the letter “H” on it ….. for Hahn? Congrats on all your special finds, Nick!

fighting conch with letter H

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest