I had a few extra minutes today (how did my life get so busy?) so I snagged those few minutes to take a beach break. I’m so glad I did! With a beautiful 75 degrees and a slight breeze, Sanibel Lighthouse Beach was the perfect hunting ground for the minis. I found a BROWN BAND WENTLETRAP along with a cutie DUSKY CONE, TUSKS, SPARSE DOVE SHELLS and many other sweet shells.
After I found a few of these beauties, I saw something else weird wash up in the surf that look sort of like giant orange pulp (with a strange alien creature in each pulp)….
Dr. Eric Milbrandt from Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation identified it for me as a Clavelina picta COLONIAL TUNICATE. It’s in the same family as the SEA PORK we see often on our beaches. Weird and very cool. Thanks Eric! (BTW, I put it back in the water since it still had fluid in each of those sacs)
Before I found the TUNICATE and the BROWN BAND WENTLETRAP, I filmed a little video because I was so shocked that I walked right out from the parking lot to find so many goodies. I normally have to search high and low to find a honey hole of minis! I’ll show you exactly where I found all of my minis and my orange glob of coolness.
WENTLETRAP shells are very hard to find if you don’t know where to look for them or you don’t realize how small they are. I can always spot another “wentletrapper” when I see one on the beach because they have perfected the Sanibel Stoop….and it’s a specific Sanibel Stoop. Clark and I were at Lighthouse Beach the other evening where I met Sailor’s Valentine artist Constance (Connie) Miller. I knew she was looking for WENTLETRAPS the moment I saw her because of her posture -heehee.
She and her husband just arrived on Sanibel from Delaware then headed right straight to the beach for wentletrapping. I asked her if she was having luck so she opened her hand to show me her WENTLETRAPS…
Would you like to find them too? Okay! I’m going to give you some tips! First of all, let me show you a video I made a while ago that will show you where and how I found oodles of WENTLES near the east tip of Sanibel.
I found the WENTLETRAPS in the video very high on the beach in the high tide line along with lots of other minis, BARNACLES and bits and pieces of other shells. In this next video, you’ll see the same thing… minis, BARNACLES, bit of other shells and also you’ll see another clue for good wentletrapping. I always look for what looks like coffee grounds washing in with the surf. Once you find those “coffee grounds”, get in position using the Sanibel Stoop method to get low to the ground to see these little jewels. Adjust your eyes to focus on the smalls then follow that line until you start seeing BUBBLE SHELLS and other minis to lead you to your first WENTLETRAP. Watch this next video to see what I’m talking about…
So as you can see, they will show up in different places but that’s why it’s so much fun when you find them! You follow the clues for your treasure hunt then practice the stoop until you find one. Normally when you find one, you’ll find a several more.
Okay, so the reason I’m back on this WENTLETRAP kick is because when I was talking to Connie and she showed me her shells, I realized that she had 3 different types of WENTLETRAPS in her hand. Look back at the photo of connie’s hand and you’ll see that the one on the left is longer and thinner than the others. So when I got home, I went through all of my WENTLETRAPS to inspect the differences in mine. I’m not an expert in the different types…yet (heehee)… but I believe (with the help of our good friend MurexKen!) that the first one is a LEAL’S WENTLETRAP (Epitonium leali) named after Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum’s director Dr. Jose Leal.
The second one from the left in Connie’s hand I believe is a HUMPHREY’S WENTLETRAP (Epitonium humphreysii). My photo doesn’t really show the tannish color in between the ribs but when you put it beside the others, you can see the difference like in her hand.
The third and fourth ones on the right are the most common to find on Sanibel, ANGULATE WENTLETRAPS (Epitonium angulatum).
So when I went through our 4 x 4 jar of WENTLETRAPS with hundreds of gems…
I found another type as well… the MATTHEWS’ WENTLETRAP (Epitonium matthewsae). If you look at the top photo in this post, this is the 4th one over and you can see just how delicate and beautiful this one is.
I found one more too! It’s the BROWN-BAND WENTLETRAP (Gyroscala rupicola)…
Okay, so I know this is a lot of info to just find a sweet little old WENTLETRAP… so I dont want you to get overwhelmed if you are trying to find your first one (Traci ;)). Don’t worry, one day you will find one. Then after you find a few, you can come back to this page and see if you have any of the more uncommon ones. There are two others that are found in SouthWest Florida but I haven’t found them or figured out those differences yet so I have to keep searching too. So get out to Lighthouse Beach, get your Sanibel Stoop on and get focused on your clues. I hope this helps you find those precious WENTLETRAPS!
UPDATE January 22, 2013 : There was another WENTLETRAP species found for southwest Florida. A PLASTERED WENTLTRAP (Family Epitoniidae
Cirsotrema dalli) . Read the story CLICK HERE.
Don’t get your taste buds all worked up about TURKEY, RICE or CANDY because I’m talking seashells, of course! We found lots of mini “morsels” at the lighthouse over the weekend including these two TURKEY WINGS (the biggest one is only about an inch long) and two TAMPA TURRIDS in the photo above and RICE OLIVES and BABY’S EARS in this next photo.
Along with the usual ANGULATE WENTLETRAPS, I found a BROWN BANDED WENTLETRAP too….
…. And some AUGERS and little FIGHTING CONCHS.
And to top it all off with some sweet candy, we found two HORSE CONCHS and baby ALPHABET CONE.
I met William and Melissa (Jacksonville, FL) filling their shells bags with SCALLOP shells, CONCHS and some MUREXES.
I found out this was their first trip to Sanibel so I showed them how to find WENTLETRAPS too..
I met another Shelling Sister Sanibel Stooper on the beach too…. this little cutie Lucy! She was having a ball with this COCKLE shell on the beach with her parents Jeff and Tammy.
And look what I found again…. a SMOOTH DUCK CLAM. Maybe it isn’t that unusual (?)
Unfortunately, it’s so thin and fragile, it broke when I got it back to the house……oops!
There were so many SAILOR’S EARS, I bunched a few together and that’s when I saw the SMOOTH DUCK CLAM too.
Just a reminder- If you haven’t entered the Susick Sea Shell Sifter Giveaway yet, CLICK HERE to win!
The other day, shelling sistah Tricia G asked me if I’ve ever found a MARGINELLA on Sanibel since I don’t have one listed on the SEASHELL IDENTIFICATION page. I’ve found them before but, come to think about it, I sure haven’t found one in a long time. So last night, we headed for the lighthouse because I was on the hunt for that sneaky MARGINELLA. To double my chances, I reminded Super Sheller Clark that I wanted to find one to add to the I.D. page so I told him to be on the lookout too.
Yippee! I found one!….. er…..well…. Clark found it. He was scooping at the surf line when all the sudden I hear him laugh. “Look what I found”.
Marginellas and a broken dove
Then he found another one! And then yes, I found that little one on the right. Whew- I wasn’t completely out-shelled. Keep in mind, the biggest one is just shy of 1/2 inch and they sort of look like a BUBBLE if the aperture side is down so they aren’t easy to find. I found the broken one on the left too so I added it to the photo since I thought it was the same shell.
Marginella and Dove? aperture
Dang it! That shell on the left really doesn’t even look like a MARGINELLA at all since it has those teeth on the lip. I couldn’t even see those teeth until I took the picture and looked at it on the computer. In the last few years I can’t even look at my phone or a menu without holding them as far as my arms will extend. You know what I mean? Ha! Geez. Oh well, I’ve been fortunate so far with my eyes so I shouldn’t complain….. it’s just weird…. I’m just sayin. ;) Alright, back to the shell…. I think the broken shell on the far left is a DOVE shell just by what’s left of it but I could be wrong (I gotta get back to trusting my own eyes again- yikes!). It’s not like I can where “readers” on the beach…. maybe? ….. nahhhh.
Brown banded wentletrap
I didn’t need glasses to spot this BROWN-BAND WENTLETRAP though. Love that color running through it!
Brown banded wentletrap aperture
Nancy from Seashell Wreaths by Nancy reminded me that the name WENTLETRAP is derived from a Dutch word meaning spiral staircase.
We were on the mini shell hunt so we ran across lots of the BUBBLE shells…. appropriately named as well….
We found lots of AUGERS which again, look like their name…
So how about SHARP-RIB DRILL? That flat rib or blade off the sides is pretty sharp, huh?
Now this is getting funny! I didn’t plan on dissecting common names of shells tonight but it’s kind of fun, right? So let’s look at the KEYHOLE LIMPET…..
….and the BUTTON shell….
This CONE shell certainly looks like an ice cream cone….
But I’m not sure that this RICE OLIVE shell looks like an olive but it sure looks like rice…
Picture this next shell on top of Barbie’s doll head… yep, it’s a TURBAN. Again, I just thought this shell was pretty and knobby. I didn’t realize it had a hole in it and the barnacles attached…the eyes are going! Oh well, it’s still pretty.
We had our eyes (failing or not) focused on finding a special miniature shell by looking for the particular pattern of a MARGINELLA and we found it. We shell this beach on the east end of Sanibel regularly but we’ve probably walked right by hundreds of them just because we have been focused on other patterns of shells that we see on a regular basis. i Love Shelling. I really do because it opens my eyes to see beautiful things that I normally would never appreciate.
Our Sanibel lighthouse shells last night
Sanibel pier sunset
Juvenile horse conchs
Candy! I love my candy corn. We found 16 baby horsies at the lighthouse. There’s one little cutie murex in the picture too. See it?
Clark and I found over 200 WENTLETRAPS and he found one BROWN-BAND WENTLETRAP. Once we found one, all of the others just showed up. It’s all about the eye. I took some video to show you how far from the beach we were and what they were near . I’ll try to get that together for you this week.
We found 9 little DUSKY CONES, 2 cutie MARGINELLAS (oops! UPDATE 9-19-10: These are NOT marginellas. They are MELAMPUS shells. Thank you MurexKen. Please see post My Goodness Melampus) and a BABYS EAR.
So many minis!
There are so many different miniature shells in this photo! Can you recognize a few?
We haven’t had much luck with the larger shells at the Sanibel lighthouse beach lately so ….we walk for wentles. Last evening, Clark found this brown wentletrap. I looked it up on the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum website to properly name it …… looks to me like a BROWN-BAND WENTLETRAP. Nice, huh?
Brown banded wentletrap 2
We ran into a family that were happy as clams to be finding the minis too. Jennifer from Atlanta has taught her whole family the names of all of the shells and how to enjoy the small treasures.
Cameron, Joe, Jennifer, Josh, Kira, Tyler, David and Katelyn
Coming tomorrow! …… the announcement of who won the Sanibel Lighthouse Giveaway !