I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to breathe the salty air with a walk along the shell filled beach at the Island Inn this morning.
I didn’t collect many shells today because I just wanted to hear the ocean sounds, smell the beach, feel the sea breeze and to see the amazing view.
… And give a little thanks to Mother Earth for this paradise I call home on Earth Day.
I asked Lynn from Charleston, SC if she had found any treasures and she replied with “Every single shell on this beach is a treasure”.
I feel the same Lynn!
John from Rhode Island plopped right now in the water and waves where he was finding all sorts of treasures. He found an amazing live purple FIGHTING CONCH that he gently put back in the water to live a healthy life after we all admired it.
After this little SEA STAR said “Hello” then waved “Good Bye”, the surf washed in and took her right back out to sea. Hmmm… Or maybe she was saying “Raise your hand if you Love Shelling!”
This OLIVE shell was playing “Hide ‘N Seek” with me.
A beautiful treasure may be right in front of you but if you don’t appreciate it when you can, it may disappear in a moment. Always keep your eye on the ball… well, in this case… the SHELL. 😉 [youtube]https://youtu.be/G3l8eKwuhXE[/youtube]
Have you ever found one of these shells on Sanibel Island that you couldn’t identify? I’ve been asked to identify this shell with a thick “lip” and one long “wing” hundreds of times.
It happens to be a broken ATLANTIC GIANT COCKLE (most likely they are juvenile shells that are cracked).
… and most likely it was cracked by a bird like this LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL.
Wanna see how this bird can crack the case of the COCKLE shell? It’s fascinating! This is a VERY. SMART. BIRD.[youtube]https://youtu.be/kSRSf2v7DAw[/youtube]
Join me on a Shelling Adventure! CLICK HERE
It’s thrilling to see a live SAND DOLLAR at low tide half buried in the sand and water, isn’t it?
It’s also thrilling to see bleached out SAND DOLLARS washing in with the tide as well, right?
But how do you know if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not when it is isn’t bright white?
If a SAND DOLLAR is dark in color and half buried in the sand and/or water, it is most likely still alive and we should let it stay in its place in the water.
There have been times I have posted photos of SAND DOLLARS in my bucket that were grey in color. This has been a concern to folks who were worried about whether or not I collected live SAND DOLLARS. First of all, I would never collect a live SAND DOLLAR. But I completely understand the concerns from anyone who wants to make sure nobody takes a living creature out of its habitat – especially just to take it home for a souvenir.
So here’s the way to tell if it’s alive or not… Look for the CILIA and velvety skin. These are the things that keep the animal alive and on these SAND DOLLARS… they are missing so they are not alive any more. These are now just the TESTS of the animal… like the shell (although its not technically a shell).
Do you see how the edge and surface of this SAND DOLLAR looks like it has fur?
SAND DOLLARS have short SPINES covered in CILIA (tiny hairs) so it can move along the sand and grasses. Along with those “hairs” are TUBE FEET (which look like “fur” to me too – heehee) which is actually how the SAND DOLLAR breathes.
I bet now, you can look at this next photo and see that all of these baby SAND DOLLARS in Clark’s hand are alive. After I snapped this photo, he put them back in the water.
You can see it here too, right? These need to go back into the water where they belong.
So now take a look at this next photo…. is this still alive? No. Even though this SAND DOLLAR is still gray in color, there’s no possible way it could be alive since there are no SPINES nor CILIA nor TUBE FEET. It has no way to breathe or move without those things.
Julianna shows us that the SAND DOLLAR to the left of the photo is still alive and the other one on the right side of the photo has no “fur” whatsoever. She is a good steward of the earth so she put the live one safely back in the water and she gave the other “hairless” one to her mom for safekeeping.
Most days you will see sun bleached SAND DOLLARS just like this…. Hairless! Furless! Completely “Bald”! haha
So next time you see a SAND DOLLAR while walking the beach, remember to leave it alone if it’s dark and hairy but if you are unsure if it’s alive… take your time to inspect this amazing creature before you assume it’s a “keeper”. Look for any signs of hairs, fur or velvety skin.
Now you can bet your bottom DOLLAR you’ll know when to leave those sweet living SAND DOLLARS alone…
and when you can jump for joy when you find that keeper almighty DOLLAR.
Oh, and I took a short video of a cutie little juvie LIVE SAND DOLLAR to show you how they move those little hairs around. I hope this helps![youtube]https://youtu.be/enozi-3lWZg[/youtube]
PS- Most of these photos are from articles I’ve published in the past, just click on each photo to be linked to those posts.
Finding a JUNONIA is always a sweet success but finding a teenie tiny juvie JUNONIA is (in my humble opinion) the best ever! My heart is so happy for shelling sistah “Diane From Tucson” because she is just about the sweetest thing put on this planet. Shellzam!
She found this special JUNONIA on the Sanibel side of Blind Pass down near that wood jetty that gets uncovered every once in a while. Congratshellations, Diane. Here she is looking for another one- heehee.
After hanging out with her for a while, I got the itch to see what was happening on the Captiva side of Blind Pass. Holy Cowrie! A huge shell pile was forming right before my eyes…
I’ve got so many photos but the best way to describe it is to show you in a video. Now, hang on… put your sea legs on and get your seasick patch secured because of course I was excited, overwhelmed and trying to shell while shooting this footage so I did the best I could to carry you along. You will see lots of things I missed so you might catch yourself yelling at me to pick them up… it’s ok. I understand and you can yell at me all you want because I did the same thing when I watched for the first time. There is another great WORMIE I missed. Ack! Anyway, Enjoy your time on the shell pile and I’ll show you more photos later. [youtube]http://youtu.be/EOZ3sfSlbMI[/youtube]
It’s a special moment to witness the power of Mother Nature as she displays some of her greatest works of art at the tip of your flip flops.
It seems in the blink of an eye, there is a sand bar that formed between Sanibel and Captiva at Blind Pass... and the next moment there are new shells washing on top of it.
Each wave brings a special gift.
With no preconceived expectations, the surprise of seeing Mother Nature’s treasures wash up is the greatest gift of all.
Pam, Deb and Dave were there to see the glorious day over the weekend…
They were happy to see FIGHTING CONSH, KITTENS PAWS, CERITHS, CHESTNUT TURBANS, colorful SCALLOPS, WORM SHELLS, COCKLES and WHELKS.
There’s no better view in the world.
Take a little escape for a moment… Feel the sunshine and imagine your cute toes in flip flops… then click on this next video. Ahhhh. You feel it? [youtube]http://youtu.be/q07XA7Q49jg[/youtube]
PS- Gulfside City Park has major Beach Bling too!
Even though we aren’t wearing our usual tee shirts and shorts here on Sanibel Island because of this cold 40 degree weather, walking the beach warms the soul.
“Espeshelly” since cold weather brings shells!
Sanibel Lighthouse beach has load of shells washing up about a half a mile west of the Lighthouse.
There were lots of live CONCHS… and lots of empty ones too but my fave was this empty sweet striped PEAR WHELK.
There were shells starting to come in at Island Inn Sanibel too (my second picture from the top)
There were also shells starting to come in at Blind Pass too (CLICK HERE for map)
Were you hoping for a video to warm you up? You Got It! I walked down the beach on the gulf side of the Sanibel Lighthouse….ummmm… maybe about 1/2 mile west or so. I mostly found empty minis (like the 3rd photo) in the washed up shell lines and live FIGHTING CONCHS and STARFISH (like the first photo) in the water near the Lighthouse but when I walked further down the beach I found this… [youtube]http://youtu.be/RWKUY6yJAAI[/youtube]
One more photo to sooth the soul… The evening warmth of shelling at Blind Pass at sunset last night.