We learned about Donnie The Shellinator (it tickles me every time I write that- heehee) and his PLASTERED WENTLETRAP on my last post, but I didn’t have time to mention the other shells he and Alyssa took to show the folks at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum…. FREAKS!
I know your eyes went right to the crooked LIGHTNING WHELK, didn’t it? I know, I love a good FREAK shell too but they didn’t find these last week, they collected these in the last year but since we got to see the real experts it was the perfect time to show the coolness. It looks like this WHELK was involved in some sort of trauma that clipped his “tail” (siphonal canal) but he was strong enough to rebuild his shell any way he could… and this time it was sideways.
On the left of the photo is a FREAK KNOBLESS FIGHTING CONCH. But “knobless” isn’t the only thing that is freaky about it. The aperture is so narrow with an unusual shape and it looks like the shoulder grew back up on the spire of the shell too.
Believe it or not, we don’t find many juvenile ALPHABET CONES on our beaches so Donnie donated his to Smokey of the Shell Museum who wants to complete a growth display. Nice, huh? Maybe it be added to a display like this?
It was such a pleasure to listen to the shell experts tell us what they look for to correctly identify different seashells and how to figure out what makes them FREAKS. I caught a small part of Smokey Payson on video explaining what could have happened to this FREAK LIGHTING WHELK to make his tail grow sideways. Sorry this clip is so fuzzy and unsteady… really, it’s not a great video but I really think you’ll like to hear Smokey’s take on these FREAKS.
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Now you can add this PLASTERED WENTLETRAP to your bucket list of “Find A Rare SWFL Shell”. Isn’t it beautiful?
No, I didn’t find it. Donnie is back in action! He found this WENTLETRAP at Blind Pass Captiva near the bridge. That’s been a hot spot! He knew his WENTLETRAP looked different so he sent me this photo and said it was 1 and 1/8 inches long. That’s pretty big for a WENTLETRAP…
Donnie and his daughter Alyssa (who is an excellent avid sheller on her own right) were fortunate to have Dr. Jose Leal, the director of the shell museum, take a look at his special find.
Dr Leal and shell museum volunteer Smokey Payson were very curious to see it!
After Dr Leal inspected it through the microscope, Alyssa got to do her own investigation of her dad’s WENTLETRAP as well….
After thorough research…
And a meeting of the minds…
Dr Leal concluded that this WENTLETRAP is an Cirsotrema dalli and will photograph it to add to his list for southwest Florida shells. Yippee!!! Congratulations Donnie!
So let’s do this… for us “common-shell-name-folks” like me, let’s call it the PLASTERED WENTLETRAP as they do HERE. Since Dr Leal said this was an excellent and rare find, we all need to keep our eyes “plastered” for the shape of this one to see if any more show up. I’d love to find one too! And I’d love to find this book as well since this is the book Dr Leal found the correct identification on this shell. So if you have a copy of this laying around your house gathering dust, let me know so I can put it to good use to add to my research “library” (haha) too.
I have a few more unusual shells to show you that Donnie and Alyssa took to the Shell Museum… so stay tuned!
To learn more about the other species of WENTLETRAPS you can find on in Southwest Florida as shown in this next photo, CLICK HERE
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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.
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.