You get that magical feeling when you see a STAR wash up on the beach next to your toes, don’t you? We always feel so lucky to be able to touch them, to pick them up and to return them safely to the sea … never feeling afraid they will bite like so many other sea creatures. They seem happy, peaceful and a little whimsical for some reason so we always feel a little giddy to catch a glimpse of them. So since they seem so magical, I’m gonna make a wish whenever we see a SEA STAR from now on.
All along the east end of Sanibel this morning, we saw lots of other healthy live creatures as well… like this beautiful PEAR WHELK.
Earlier this week at Blind Pass Sanibel, I found a few strings of shells lining the beach…
I found a few hidden treasures tucked in between the loads of ARK shells…
I found a few other treasures too…
Sue and Molly from Indiana were so much fun to talk to and happy as clams to be stooping for shells in the cooler weather.
Sue’s fave find was a beautiful GAUDY NATICA, while Molly was thrilled she found a little MOON shell too… a juvie SHARKS EYE and a verrrrrry cool BRYOZOAN COLONY that looks like a cross between a SPONGE and CORAL.
I also met other shellers traveling from Indiana to Sanibel…. Debbra and Steven.
We found lots of little mini shells along the beach at the water’s edge and some nice LETTERED OLIVES as we waded in the water shin deep.
My fave finds today? Seeing the live creatures were a highlight of the day and I found many cutie colorful SCALLOP SHELLS (and a sweet double SUNRAY VENUS) to make me even happier.
Join me on an iLoveShelling Beach Combing Adventure… CLICK HERE for more info
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…
One more photo to sooth the soul… The evening warmth of shelling at Blind Pass at sunset last night.
On my beach walk at the Lighthouse Beach today, I saw many different lines of shells and oodles of Beach Bling in lots of different wrack lines to sift through. About half a mile away from the lighthouse on the gulf side, I found lots of fun minis in the high dried tidal pool areas (on the right of the next photo)…
Yes, I love to show photos of minis… But… if you know me…. I love me some BEACH BLING! I was enamored with all of the different egg casings for the different shells lined up along the shore.
LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAINS were everywhere. Female WHELKS produce these long EGG CHAINS which can get up to 33 inches long. There can be up to 145 capsules in each strand and each capsule contains around 45 eggs. That’s alot of babies, right? But that’s life in the wild- only the strong survive. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing
PEAR WHELK EGG CHAINS were a little bit harder to find but I saw about 6 of them.
What’s the difference between the LIGHTNING WHELK and the PEAR WHELK? Aha! Now you can see for yourself how much smaller and shorter the PEAR chain on the left is compared to the larger LIGHTNING WHELK on the right.
PAPER FIG EGG CASES (or the PAPER FIGS themselves) are never that easy to find but I did see about 3 different ones. They never get to be long chains like the WHELKS but instead they look like little corn cobs that are glued together at the sides.
I saw dozens of HORSE CONCH EGG CLUSTERS today too. Most all of the cases I saw washed up on the beach were empty inside each capsule. In each of the photos, I removed one of the capsules of the egg clusters so you could see what shape each of the capsules looked like.
Here is a HORSE CONCH EGG CASING, PEAR WHELK EGG CHAIN and a LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAIN all together on the beach. I saw other casings but I’ll have to save those for another day…. because….
Want to walk the beach with me to see what it looked like when I found all of these EGG CASINGS? I made a video! I’ve gotten some requests lately from peeps up north “jonesin” for my beach videos. LOL Love it! I don’t want to let you down! Enjoy!
After strong west winds last week, surely we would get some interesting shells and Beach Bling washing up on our shores of Sanibel and Captiva. Yep, lots of Beach Bling lined the beach at Gulfside City Park.
The winds were so strong, the strength of the waves pushed oodles of crab traps with buoys onto the beach. When traps get tossed around by the power of the water, their doors get jostled then spill out the bait for the crabs.
So of course, the bait gets washed up on the beach too. Pigs Feet! Yes, they use PIGS FEET to attract STONE CRABS and BLUE CRABS so that’s why you may have seen odd bones washed up on the beach- most of the time its from crab traps. I actually think this one may be a HOGS FOOT. Its weird and humongo! On the beach, I do not like pigs feet or ham, Pam I am.
But don’t let this PIGS FOOT be confused with this SEA PORK. More ham, Pam I am?
I also found lots of different MOLLUSK EGG CASINGS too like this LIGHTNING WHELK EGG CHAIN…
I saw there were little baby shells in their fluid still sealed in each of the disks so I put it back in the water. I’m sure they washed back up on the beach since the water was still pretty rough but … who knows. Maybe they got stuck on something out there in the water and were able to hatch. Dunno, but why not try?
This one is an EGG CASE to a PAPER FIG…
This is a BANDED TULIP…
This beauty is a TRUE TULIP EGG CASE…
When Clark and I looked a little closer, we saw there were several other EGG CASES that were laid on some of the TRUE TULIP EGG CAPSULES.
There were lots of MILLIPEDE STARFISH (and PEN SHELLS)…
This was a very cool LONG SPINED SEA URCHIN…
There were hundreds of DOSINIAS that were washed up on the beach as well. I was really thrilled to find both types of our local DOSINIAS scattered along the wrack lines. The top one is the very common DISK DOSINIA and the bottom one is the ELEGANT DOSINIA. I haven’t had time to photograph them but I hope to show the detail much better on my next post.
We searched Blind Pass (both sides) and Lighthouse but didn’t find huge piles of shells this weekend after the high winds but loved finding all of this cool bling at Gulfside City Park. I’m still hoping the shell piles will come rolling in soon but the birds are happy as clams with so much gourmet food at their beaks.
The birds do like stone crab and clams.
They like them here and there. They like them everywhere.
They do so like stone crabs and clams. Go Birds. Go Birds. Pam-I-am.
I may not be a champion but I like my weekend breakfast to be garnished with TULIPS while I fill up on PEARS….
Quite a few PEAR WHELKS …
With a little NUTMEG…
This weekend’s low tides were in the early morning so it was such a treat to see the sunrise… and to collect the shells from the shallow tidal pools.
But I started the weekend running into an awesome family at Blind Pass Captiva around sunset as they were just packing up all the shells they found after snorkeling. Paul, Darren, Gabe, Kyle, Emily, Ellie from Naples are all like shelling encyclopedias. They knew the names of all of their shells and little tid bits about them too. Hmmmm… “Enshellopedias”! Ha! They were so much fun to talk to…
They found lots of CONCHS, WHELKS, TULIPS, COCKLES, OLIVES and all sorts of treasures. You know I love to peek at other people’s shells so I was thrilled to take a look into Paul’s green shell bag. Wanna see too? Ha! I knew it! Here you go… Fun!
The next morning at the Lighthouse Beach, I met Charity holding a double ATLANTIC GIANT COCKLE she was holding like a treasure box. It was a treasure box! She had filled the COCKLE with all of her other tiny treasures she found at low tide.
I met the rest of her family… Janssen, Lynn Ann and Joann visiting Sanibel from the Tampa area…
Lynn Ann told me that they found all of these shell like the fab SHARKS EYE, HORSE CONCH and APPLE MUREXES (and the SEA BEAN) at the tip of the island in front of the lighthouse.
At low tide, it’s always glorious to see and touch live MOLLUSKS… especially this live 14 inch HORSE CONCH. No worries- this creature was very happy to be put back into the water where it could keep healthy and hopefully have lots of babies.
I’ve never been much of a morning person (I know. Sounds crazy for an obsessed sheller like me to say that but it’s just the truth)… so I hope this next season I learn to enjoy mornings like I did this weekend. I meet people like Angela from the Outer Banks of North Carolina who was too shy for me to take her picture but made a big impression on me. It was a pleasure to talk with you Angela!
But now that I think about it, I doesn’t really matter what time of day it is. I always find shells and I always meet awesome people shellers. I meet them finding shells at breakfast time , lunch time , afternoon snack time, dinner and evening snack time. It really doesnt matter! Errrr. I might sleep in tomorrow morning. heehee
I am obsessed with shells. I love to hunt for shells, collect different species of shells, travel for shells, learn about shells and research shells. So I have been like a pit bull with a bone ever since Shellabaloo 3 when an unusual shell showed up at our Shell ‘N Tell.
Was is really a right-handed LIGHTNING WHELK? Or was it a KNOBBED WHELK (Busycon carica) just displaced????? LIGHTNING WHELKS are the only left handed shell in Florida so to find a right-handed would be so cool. I am so excitable when I see a “local” shell (Southwest Florida) I haven’t seen before so my mind starts racing. After I wrote the post Seashells And Beach Bling at Shellabaloo 3 Shell ‘N Tell, I just had to look into it further about that WHELK Gregg found. Something wasn’t sitting right with me. Somehting else looked a little different about that whelk other than just the opening…. was it really from this area? Hmmmm. Then I got an email from another Shellabalooer, Marie, who said after she was sorting through her shells when she got home, she realized she found one of those right-handed whelks too. What??? What are the odds???
OMG. It was sitting on her tray at the Shell ‘N Tell and I didn’t even see it! Here’s the photo I put on the blog post. Can you see it now? LOL
So I started racing through my shell collection of LIGHTNING WHELKS. Have I found a RIGHT-HANDED LIGHTNING WHELK before and just didn’t realize it?
Well, No. I didn’t find one in our collection. Dang it!
While we visited the Baily-Matthews Shell Museum, Dr. Leal said something like “one in 10,000 LIGHTNING WHELKS are right-handed” … or something like that. Sorry if I got that number wrong but all I know is that he said it was a very rare find. So then…
While I was visiting my mom and family in Virginia Beach earlier this month, I helped my mom organize some her shells from her closet she had stacked up in shoe boxes. Aha! This looks like Gregg’s right-handed shell. These were a few shells that were collected years ago from the Outer Banks of North Carolina (or they could have been found after a Nor-Easter on Virginia Beach- we cant recall) that looked just like his shell. They are KNOBBED WHELKS !!
Now that I had one in my hand, I knew that this was the same shell that Gregg and Marie found here on our beaches of Sanibel and Captiva. So they didn’t find rare right handed LIGHTNING WHELKS after all, they found KNOBBED WHELKS like these.
After getting back home (with a few of my mom’s shells- heehee), I lined up all of the WHELKS. Now you can see the differences of all of the WHELKS too. Unfortunately, I don’t have a right-handed LIGHTNING WHELK to put in the line-up but you can see the rest of them.
From left to right- LIGHTNING WHELK (Sanibel), PEAR WHELK (Sanibel), KNOBBED WHELK (Outer Banks, North Carolina – OBX), CHANNELED WHELK (OBX).
You can see by the shape of the spire, and the “tail” the differences are from the LIGHTNING WHELK (left) and KNOBBED WHELK (right)
This view gives you lots of differences…especially since the LIGHTNING’s aperture opens on the left.
Since the CHANNELED WHELK (left) and PEAR WHELK (right) look so similar, I thought I’d show the different views here as well…
Remember, we don’t have CHANNELED WHELKS (Busycon canaliculatum) here on the southwest coast of Florida either but we do have the PEAR WHELKS.
This is what Dr Leal and I concluded from the mystery of these found KNOBBED WHELKS (not right handed lightning whelks) on Sanibel/Captiva. People return shells to the sea- no matter where they found them. I have heard countless times (really, I hear this sooooo often!) that people will find a box of shells they collected from various places over the years but they want to get rid of them. They decide to take them back to the beach that is convenient. OR… they buy shells to scatter on the beach for a party, wedding or so their kids will have different shells to find. Then they leave them and the high tide takes them away and the end up washing back in like they were from the gulf. It happens. That’s why people find so many “foreign” shells here on Sanibel. So for our group to find TWO right handed lightning whelks in one week, errrrr….. even though we find the BEST beaches for our Shellabaloo shellers while they are here …. I think we found somebody’s old shells they collected from the Atlantic Ocean that they scattered on Sanibel.
So know we know the differences between a LIGHTNING, PEAR, KNOBBED and CHANNELED WHELK!
Join us for the next Shellabaloo January 6-9, 2014 or some of our other shelling adventures by