I am channeling my inner artist looking at these CHANNELED WHELKS as I look back on our shelling trip to the Carolinas earlier this month (Beach Combing Trip To Portsmouth Island). I could have taken hundreds of photos of these incredishelly beautiful works of art as I saw them laying in the sand half buried in the islands of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.
Seeing KNOBBED WHELKSand OYSTER SHELLS rolling up in the surf was a masterful sight to behold.
Mother Nature artfully placed a SAND DOLLAR as though she staged this still-life for me to photograph.
I didn’t find all of her still-lifes in obvious places. These 2 KNOBBED WHELK shells, an ANGEL WING and oodles of OYSTER SHELLS were behind a large wrack line of driftwood, seaweeds and various sticks from sea oats and sea grasses.
The EASTERN OYSTER SHELLS are so beautiful as well, especially the juveniles as they form stunning sculptures.
After searching for miles, we found an area filled with the sweet adorable miniature shells. There were even WENTLETRAPS!
And then, Whelp… another WHELK.
How can they be this gorgeous?
We found dried KNOBBED WHELK EGG CASES too. They are so similar to our LIGHTNING WHELK egg cases we find in Sanibel but the KNOBBED WHELK EGG SACK disks are little more oval in shape.
But this just may have been the find of trip…. a GIANT EASTERN MUREX. Boom Shellalaka! It may not have been he prettiest shell on the beach but it really is giant and it just seemed impossible that we would find one. I can’t claim finding it- our friend (our hostess with mostest) Karen found it then gave it to me. Omigosh really? We don’t normally bring home shells that we don’t find ourselves (we are fortunate to already have enough) but it is an amazing memory from that day and an awesome shell. Very cool- thank you!
Clark and I (in red colors) are still smiling from our shelling trip with Nanette, Helen, Jackie, Karen and Captain Dan. We met all of them in McClellinville, South Carolina where Karen’s buddy Captain Dan Scarborough took us out on his boat to the out islands. I can’t even explain how much fun it was island hopping out on the boat all day with this crew.
We brought back a few brilliant shells with different color patterns that look like Mother Nature had a field day with her architectural designs and paint brush.
Clark and I are so grateful to these Three Crazy Carolina Girls- Jackie, Helen and Karen for inviting us on this unforgettable shelling trip. Love these girls!
To join me on a shelling trip adventure in SW Florida…
I feel like I just got back from being on the Amazing Shell Race in the Carolinas! Look at the colors of our shell-loot found on our trip to the beaches of Portsmouth Island, North Carolina. Can you believe it?
Oh yea baby, I gotta QUEEN HELMET! Errrr…. But then I’ve heard it’s also called a CLENCH HELMET or even the CAMEO HELMET. The HELMETS are always so hard to identify but what I do know is that I sprung into the air when I found it I was so excited. In the next photo, it’s sitting next to one of the many KNOBBED WHELKS we found and a SCOTCH BONNET – that’s North Carolina’s state shell.
We went on this trip with a bunch of other crazy shellunatic extreme shellers… Joan, Susan, George, Greg, Helen, Clark, (me) and on the front row- Carly, Hilda, Nanette, Jackie and our fabshellous leader Karen and the best shell hound ever- Roxie. We had a blast together!
Colorful weathered shells were scattered along the beach of the entire island peaking out of rippled sand dunes and half buried by high winds and heavy surf. The LIGHTNING WHELKS look so different on the east coast than they do in Sanibel.
SHARK’S EYES were mixed in with shards of broken OYSTER and SCALLOP SHELLS.
Most of the SCOTCH BONNETS were broken or cracked so it made it that much more fun to find a whole one… especially darkened with black or gray. The shells in the Carolinas stained with black or gray were likely darkened by iron sulfide from the sulfurous muck from years past.
Some of the shells like this KNOBBED WHELK have a bright orange, rust, pink or brown color due to being exposed many years to iron oxide minerals in the Atlantic Ocean sediments and fade in the sunlight when washed up on the beach.
The colors, pattern and architecture are unique to each stunning shell.
We found this amazing empty KNOBBED WHELK shell with almost a neon orange aperture that recently washed up maybe a few weeks before we got there.
Our first CAMPECHE ANGEL WING shell! It’s smooth, long, thin and has that high swoop by the hinge compared to our Sanibel ANGEL WINGS.
The internet makes the shell world even smaller… I “met” Greg Diesel about 6 years ago when he showed some of his amazing photos of shells and sunsets of North Carolina on iLoveShelling Facebook page . It was such a fun surprise to run in to him to meet in person for the first time on Portsmouth Island with his girlfriend Chrissy. We saw (well, I should rephrase- we raced passed each other haha) several times driving on the beach – they found a TUN SHELL!
I was thrilled to find a black TUN SHELL too even though the tip was broken off- I’ll take it. Yahoo!
Are you sitting down? Good, because you might have fallen over after looking at NANETTE’S super-colossal (colosshell!) NORTHERN MOON SHELL.
She was over the MOON SHELL! It’s one of many of her spectacsheller shells…
OMG Look at the CHANNELED WHELKS too.
Joan’s faves were a baby QUEEN HELMET and a huge BANDED TULIP.
It was a total score for all of us to find a HELMET – Greg’s was absolutely perfect.
How did we explore this whole island? We four-wheeled it!
Greg and Carly drove their 4-wheel drive Nissan so Jackie, Clark and I piled in to ride the beaches until we saw an area with loads of shells…. then…. “Whoooaaa! Ssssst-aaaaahhhhp! Huuuuge WHELK!”. We all raced out of the truck to scour every inch until someone went back to get the truck to move it down the beach. We’d just stumble on a gorgeous shell sticking halfway out of the sand – Greg named us “The Helen Shellers”. Haha- It was wild!
How do you get to Portsmouth Island? You can only get to Portsmouth Island by boat so we took the morning passenger and car ferry from Morris Marina in Atlantic, NC and while we enjoyed the boat ride we watched a beautiful sunrise over the island.
We stayed a couple of nights in a rustic little beach cottage not far from the ferry dock. And yes, it had electricity and hot running water- thank goodness.
A special thank you to Karen (and Roxie) for organizing this amazing shelling trip for all of us- it was spectacsheller.
So… does she look familiar? Karen, Helen and Jackie were on the first Shellabaloo.They are the crazy Carolina girls! It’s so cool we have kept in touch throughout the years and shared our shelling adventures with each other.
Clark and I had an amazing time with everybody. (thanks to Greg Diesel for the photo)
I hope to share more photos of our shells in another post but I still have our shelling stop in South Carolina to show you.
So keep checking back with me here because if you think you like this place…
The shell world is a fascinating adventure to learn about the lives of MOLLUSKS and the people who collect their shells on the beaches across the planet. Because I am one of those people obsessed with living my life in the world of shells, I love to hang out with people who love to share their knowledge about them too. The Sanibel Shell Festival is a great place to do that.
I’m thrilled Sunnye (TX) shared her colorful shell collection she found beachcombing in Eleuthera, Bahamas (top photo).
Her sister Lisa (TX)had some awesome displays too for which they both won awards.
Lisa EXHIBITED this gorgeous SMOOTH TELLIN…
But I looooved this cool display Lisa did showing the difference between the SHARKS EYE and the FALSE SHARKS EYE. It explains and shows the difference in detail (for more info check out my post Sanibel Shark Week… Featuring The Shark Eye Shell).
And then there’s Stef! I’m so happy for her- she won a blue ribbon for her double FLAT SCALLOP she found by Sanibel’s Island Inn.
Wait… did you miss what I said? Okay, lemme slow down… she found both sides of her FLAT ZIGZAG SCALLOP still hinged together. Exactly like she displayed it… on Sanibel… and with amazing color. Wow! Years ago, I was thrilled when Clark found just the other half of a FLAT (the right valve) since it’s rare to find them here (CLICK HERE to see what the other side looks like) … and she found both perfect valves still together. Shellzam! Congrats Stefanie!
There were lots of displays showing ALBINO shells this year but this one by Ken and Joyce Matthys was really very cool. Here they shows tons of ALBINO FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES they’ve found through the years…
In the next case they show FLORIDA PRICKLY COCKLES which are ALBINISTIC. They explain… “Some shells lack their normal color, but they are not pure white. Instead they may be pale yellow, cream-colored, or have other hints of color. These are referred to as being albinistic”. Hmmm Haven’t you seen some like this? I have and now we’ve learned a name for this color form… ALBINISTIC.
Anne Joffe’s seashell emergency room display was hilarious and voted best for People’s Choice award. Freak and damaged shells that repaired themselves to form in odd shapes were propped in mini doctor’s offices, emergency rooms and surgery rooms with bandages, crutches and doctors notes.
Check out this PALLID CARRIER SHELL with an attached GLASS SPONGE (from the Philippines) by exhibitor Robert Linn. Wildly beautiful.
Last week I posted about the artistic side of the show with SAILORS VALENTINES, shell frames and all sorts of shell artand craft but when you look at some of these shells like these ATLANTIC TRITONS exhibited by Holly Nordyke, you realize you are looking at the most perfect work of art ever made. Stunning.
Hope to see you next year at the 80th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival!
Great Beach combing! We had such a fun weekend on Sanibel with Lee and Susan finding perfectly dried MILLIPEDE SEA STARS (aka NINE-ARMED SEA STARS) at Gulfside City Park beach…
There are still so many STARFISH, FIGHTING CONCHS and other bling on the beach left over from the storms I showed you from my video last week (CLICK HERE). Now there are STARFISH in the high wrack lines that are dried out and shells without any critters in them. It was like the perfect storm with variable conditions to make all this happen… it is mating season for FIGHTING CONCHS and HORSE CONCHS (so they were already out in masses in the shallow waters), we had days (actually weeks) of unseasonably high winds, high rough water (which washed all of those shells up high on the beach), crazy cold unseasonable temperatures (live creatures feel lethargic), then the receding gulf water after the storms calmed, then coupled with extreme low tides… this is how many of these shells were stranded high on the beach.
Looking through some of them, we all found abshellutley gorgeous empty fighting conchs with bright purple apertures. They are a-mazing and seriously, they have this color opening!!!
We also ran over to Blind Pass Captiva and found a few goodies like some “Candy”…
Oooooh, and look at Clark’s nice sized candy.
Tom and Janet from NY (too shy for pics ;)) cleaned up with a bucket full of beauties on the new sand bar on the pass side of the jetty rocks.
If you remember, we visited Lee and Susan a couple of time when they lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cubaand found some amazing shells. Over the weekend, Lee was asked to be a speaker to share his shell collecting experiences in that part of Cuba at the 2016 Florida United Malacologists meeting at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum while they were here visiting. He did such a great job!
Since Guantanamo Bay isn’t a place that most people get to visit, he described their shelling days of “life on the rock” with a fabulous slide presentation and brought examples of the shells they found in GTMO. He made it fun for us to go to our first “FUM” meeting.
Thank you Colin, Rodger and Dr Leal (pictured with us) for organizing the event and for encouraging us to come.
So after seeing Lee’s presentation and reminiscing about our visits to GTMO, I had to look at my blog posts again to take a trip down memory lane. It’s still so unbelievable we got to go there (thanks again Lee and Susan) you’ve got to check out our trips again too – just CLICK HERE . I really laughed out loud looking at one of my videos from the trip- I kept calling them “rocks” haha … it was actually a beach full of CORAL chunks but I guess I was so overwhelmed it all just felt like I was picking through a huge pile of rocks. Do you think I was a little excited???
You think I was happy when I found this cool pitted CAT’S EYE SEA MARBLE too? lol
How do SEA MARBLES form? Most of the time they start out as a real marble or round glass ball. There are different theories to answer why they washed up on the beach and the first one is the most logical… kids playing with marbles on the beach years ago. But there are way too many rolling in around the world’s beaches for it just to be child’s play. Some SEA MARBLES are from a Japanese glass bottle called Remune that used a marble as a stopper so when the bottle was discarded, the marble ended up in the ocean. Cargo ships used to use marbles as an inexpensive way to redistribute weight to provide stability so I’m sure many times they were dumped overboard. Painters used to use marbles in paint cans to mix the paint so if you think about how much “battle ship gray” paint was constantly used on all those ships, of course they’d end up losing their marbles.
So we got a little carried away collecting just the shades of blues and greens but I couldn’t believe the different colors of turquoise, aqua, teal, soft blue, lime green, forest green, jade and even the clear glass was so beautiful. These were mostly fragments of old bottles but a few look like shards of old glass tableware, art glass or even insulators that have been tumbled in the salty ocean for decades to become sugary smooth.
These next pieces are from the bottom or base of glass bottles. I even found one rare pink piece of SEA GLASS!
These are fragments of old glass bottle lips.
These curled SEA GLASS pieces are shards from the old bottle necks.
I even found shards of flat SEA GLASS that was etched.. maybe from a privacy glass window etched by an artist.
We found 2 very cool pieces that have formed round balls that kick-up in the middle of the glass like a button. I had an idea what they were but couldn’t be sure until I found a sea glass gal on Instagram@beachbitchseaglass who verified that they were big SEA GLASS hunks of JAPANESE GLASS FLOATS. Oh yaya- Thank you! That’s “Glasstounding” (heehee). Before we left for Japan, both Clark and I were hoping to find one of those Japanese GLASS FLOATS washed up on the beach. A float would awesome BEACH BLING but finding these GLASS FLOAT chunks that have been broken, tumbled then smoothed by the sea for years and years… are very special to us. Of course I think mine (the bigger brighter one on the left) is cooler and Clark thinks his (the smaller darker one… that does have a way cool formed ball) is cooler. hahaha
If each piece of BEACH GLASS could talk, I’m sure the stories would be … wait for it… Glasstonishing. (hee hee)
Any way you look at it, i Love Seaglass!
See the rest of the story, photos, seashell and more info on this trip here…
We found soooo many amazing shells we felt like we had to share it with someone. Days before we left Sanibel for our shelling vacation to Okinawa, I saw a fantastic photo of shells with hashtag iLoveShelling (#iLoveShelling) while I was on Instagram (follow me on Instagram iLoveShelling) . That photo had another hashtag on it too… #Okinawa. Whoa. I sent a note to the girl who posted it and we hit it off right away. Before you know it, we were shelling together in Okinawa! Timing is everything, right?
Clarissa (from New Hampshire) is a 20 year old United States Marine stationed in Okinawa for 2 years who loves beach combing. She tries to get to the beaches as often as possible but transportation isn’t always easy from the bases so we picked her up to hit the beaches to look for shells with us.
We found shells! It was such a special day to hang out and find a few treasures to remember this amazing adventure while in Okinawa. Good luck, Clarissa, with your future service plans and your travel plans… and thank you.
Now that we are back on Sanibel Island, we have been trying to organize the loot we brought home. It’s abshellutely mind blowing how many different shell species we brought back so we’ve been trying to break them down in to some sort of organized chaos to identify each one. This might take a while so I figured I’d show y’all what we’ve done so far… but let me apologize for the photos… they’re aren’t great but it shows you how we are trying to sort.
This is the first tray of CONES. OMG We have LEOPARD CONES, LETTERED CONES, IVORY CONES, WESTERN IMPERIAL CONES, FLEA-BITE CONES, VIRGIN CONES, OAK CONES, SOLDIER CONES and LITHOGRAPH CONES.
And that’s not it…. MARBLE CONES, STRIATE CONES, TULIP CONES, NUSSETELLA CONES, TENDER CONES, TESSELATE CONES, SAND-DUSTED CONES and lots of TEXTILE CONES.
I could go on … but I’m overwhelmed by even more CONES…
Because then… there’s the CONCHS. SPIDER CONCHS, STRAWBERRY CONCHS, a BUBBLE CONCH and lots of LITTLE BEAR CONCHS.
Look at all of these amazing shells!
And even more… ABALONE, LIMPETS, TOPS and TROCHUS.
MOON SHELLS, OLIVE SHELLS and all sort of wonderful minis. Some look like lemon drops and kernels of corn- I’m in love.
And…. Holy COWRIE! Look at these COWRIES. OMG The colors.
And then… the BIVALVES. They are to die for.
Whew. So those were the shells that we collected and brought home with us. Aaaa-mazing. We actually collected more than double that but brought home only the best. We gave away 10 gallons of shells that we couldn’t bring home. Yes we did. We bought two 5 gallon buckets at the grocery store while we were there so we could clean our shells every day. Once we decided which shells we were going to leave in Okinawa, the buckets came in handy.
We gave some to the very friendly folks at our wonderful hotel (we actually LOVED our hotel AJ Kouki) but we gave the bulk of them to Manahu Higa, the owner of our favorite restaurant Island Marine Cafe & Bar. His whole restaurant was decorated in local shell art and crafts that his wife and daughter made. We loved it!
See why we loved it? Every inch was decorated in shells. We knew they all went to to good home.
And I still have more to show you… did you see all of that SEA GLASS in that one photo? The SEA GLASS will be coming up soon- it is sooooo beautiful.