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Collecting seashells on the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and the world

She Saw Seashells While Sailing The Seychelles

Posted by on Jun 9, 2016 in Seychelle Islands | 28 comments

branched murex seychelle islands

We saw seashells by the seashore on our shelling and sailing vacation in the Seychelles!

Seychelle seashells

We saw spectacular seaside sightseeing views.

Seychelle Island View

We saw stunning sandy beaches … spawning smiles. ;)

Happiness. We couldn’t think of a better way for Clark and I to celebrate our 20th Anniversary!

Pam and Clark Rambo Seychelles

The Seychelles Islands are on the east coast of Africa right smack dab in the middle of the Indian Ocean. We flew from Miami to Paris then Paris to Mahe Island in the Seychelles. We spent a few days on Mahe Island exploring the beaches … we rented a car but we do NOT advise doing this. The roads are crazy narrow with no room for error. Clark did an amazing job of driving but I think my feet are still sore from slamming on my imaginary breaks on the passenger side- eeek! If you go, just hire a cab- seriously. Then we boarded a 44 ft Sunsail Catamaran to sail to a few of the other Seychelles Islands…. with Captain Jeremie Bossy. Let me tell you, Jeremie was THE best captain we could have ever hoped for. We love him!

Clark Pam Rambo boat captain Jeremie Bossy

Our first hour on the boat, we sat down with Jeremie to chart our route. He looked at us like we were crazy when all of our questions were about finding areas with seashells. He grew up on the water in the Seychelles with his parents (and 5 brothers) and has been a captain since he was 18… he had never met anybody who wanted to spend their vacation in search of seashells. Fishing, yes. Diving, yes. Birding, yes. Snorkeling, yes. Reading books, yes.  Shelling? Never.

By day 2, he was combing the beaches right along side us. He was hooked.

Jeremie Bossy beach comb shelling Seychelles

So with now 3 sets of eyes… we found SPIDER CONCHS…

seychelle seashell spider conch

and beach bling like PENCIL URCHIN SPINES…

seychelle sea urchin spines


Seychelle seaglass Indian ocean

Our favorite little island was LA DIGUE. We loved it so much we ended up staying there 3 days and renting bikes to explore. Gorgeous!

Biking La Digue Island Seychelles

We found most of our shells while biking around this island. It was soooooo much fun.

seashells and seaglass in Seychelle Islands

But we didn’t just comb the beaches. The Seychelles Islands are known for their conservation efforts so lots of the beaches are marine parks to protect the sealife and all wildlife. Jeremie knew where we could beach comb but also where we could observe but not collect. He also took us where we could lots of wildlife for photos…. like seeing the amazing rare GIANT TURTLES. haha They are so dang cute and friendly!  Now don’t worry that Im so close to him (yes, this one’s a him), its ok. They are part of the landscape and their lives just like you’d say hi to your neighbor or their dogs or cats.

Aldabra giant tortoise La Digue Seychelles

In one of the marine parks, we saw “shellions” of live MANGROVE WHELKS laying around at low tide. We saw plenty of empty ones but they are off limits to collect, as well as quite a few other types shells. It’s still fun to see them by the masses and to learn about their habits at low tide.

Seychelle seashell giant mangrove whelk

Anther very cool thing to see in the Seychelles is the very rare coconut…  COCO DE MER. This is the only place on the planet to see these wild coconuts and they are protected as well. They look like… well, you decide. haha

Coco De Mer coconut seychellesHonestly, this little LITHOGRAPH CONE (i think that’s what it is) is my favorite find of the whole trip. It’s sweet and perfect and it makes my heart skip a beat every time I look at it.

chick pea cowries lithograph cone

We didn’t find an overwhelming amount of shells but we found enough to put in a beautiful bowl in our home to see them every day and remind us of our amazing trip. They are perfect souvenirs on our hunt for shells which took us on quite an adventure on the other side of the planet to see breathtaking views, rare animals, lush foliage and a trip of a lifetime we will never forget.

clark and pam rambo world shelling seychelles

pam rambo shelling trip boat

PS- I have a phone number for Jeremie if you ever want him to be your captain- just leave a comment.

UPDATE: I had quite a few people already interested in Jeremie’s info so I’ll post it here too. So he said he doesn’t go online or look at email all that often (maybe once a week) but he has a mobile phone (which for some reason one number he gave me wouldn’t go through from my phone) so just be patient when you try to reach him.

Jeremie Bossy- 002482632253 or 002482753768 …[email protected]

and PSS- Yes, I have major jet lag (31 hours travel time) bit couldn’t wait to get back to working on my shell art project ( to be revealed soon!) so I haven’t been sleeping.  Please disregard all the run-on sentences and/or misspellings and anything that doesn’t quite make sense – just read between the lines, k? ;)

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Finding Seashells in The Seychelles

Posted by on Jun 4, 2016 in Seychelle Islands | 10 comments

Seychelles Seashells

Holy Cowrie! We are floating around the Indian Ocean on a sailboat anchoring at several of the Seychelles Islands in search of seashells. Not only have we found a few seashells… we’ve seen breath taking views, amazing wildlife and even tried to relax a little in the sunshine and take in the salty air.

We’re soaking up every second so coming up soon…

Seychelles Shell N Tell

Seychelle Island La Digue scenic view

PS- you were right Jody and Judy!!! ;)

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My Inner South Carolina Seashell Artist Is Channeling Whelks

Posted by on Mar 29, 2016 in Cape Romain, Channeled Whelk, Eastern Oyster, Knobbed Whelk, Knobbed Whelk Egg Case, Oyster, South Carolina, Wentletrap, Whelk, World shelling | 17 comments

channeled whelk shells

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.

channeled whelk

Seeing KNOBBED WHELKS and OYSTER SHELLS rolling up in the surf was a masterful sight to behold.

South Carolina shells on the beach

Mother Nature artfully placed a SAND DOLLAR as though she staged this still-life for me to photograph.

South Carolina sand dollar

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.

shells in beach wrack

The EASTERN OYSTER SHELLS are so beautiful as well, especially the juveniles as they form stunning sculptures.

eastern oyster sculpture

After searching for miles, we found an area filled with the sweet adorable miniature shells. There were even WENTLETRAPS!

miniature shells south carolina

And then, Whelp… another WHELK.

empty knobbed whelk

How can they be this gorgeous?

knobbed whelk with oyster shells

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.

knobbed whelk egg case-1

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!

Giant Eastern Murex

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.

shell trip guides to South Carolina

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.

shell basket filled with South Carolina seashells

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!

Shell guide friends Jackie, Helen and Karen

To join me on a shelling trip adventure in SW Florida…

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Crazy Carolina Beach Combing – Shelling Trip To Portsmouth Island, North Carolina

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in North Carolina seashells, Portsmouth Island, World shelling | 18 comments

whelk shells beach combing north carolina

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?

Portsmouth island North Carolina seashells

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.

North Carolina shells and sand dunes

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!

Shelling trip Portsmouth Island NC

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.

lightning whelk north carolina

SHARK’S EYES were mixed in with shards of broken OYSTER and SCALLOP SHELLS.

Sharks eye shell Portsmouth Island North Carolina

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.

Scotch Bonnet shell beach combing North Carolina

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.

beach combing north carolina

The colors, pattern and architecture are unique to each stunning shell.

Beachcombing Portsmouth Island NC knobbed whelk shell on the beach

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.

Orange opening knobbed whelk

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.

Campeche Angel wing sea shell North Carolina NC

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!

Greg Diesel tun shell North Carolina

I was thrilled to find a black TUN SHELL too even though the tip was broken off- I’ll take it. Yahoo!

black tun shell portsmouth island nc
Are you sitting down? Good, because you might have fallen over after looking at NANETTE’S super-colossal (colosshell!) NORTHERN MOON SHELL.

Northern Moon snail Portsmouth Island North Carolina

She was over the MOON SHELL! It’s one of many of her spectacsheller shells…

Nanette with shells Portsmouth Island NC


North Carolina seashells

Joan’s faves were a baby QUEEN HELMET and a huge BANDED TULIP.

Joan with helmet and tulip shells

It was a total score for all of us to find a HELMET – Greg’s was absolutely perfect.

greg with queen clench helmet

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!

Four shell wheeling Portsmouth Island

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. 

Ferry to Portsmouth Island NC
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. Beach house Portsmouth Island NC

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.

Karen guides shelling trip to portsmouth island

Clark and I had an amazing time with everybody. (thanks to Greg Diesel for the photo)

Pam and Clark Rambo sunrise shelling trip

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.

beach combing north carolina

So keep checking back with me here because if you think you like this place…

Whelk in the sand North Carlina shell

You’ll love our next shelling hole just as much.

sunset shell North carolina

driving on north carolina beach at sunset

Shell-love and peace.

shelling at sunset Portsmouth Island NC

Join me on a SW Florida shelling adventure…


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Learning about Seashells at the 2016 Sanibel Shell Festival

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in 79th Sanibel Shell Festival 2016, Cockle, Eleuthera Shells, False Shark Eye, Flat Zigzag Scallop, Florida Prickly Cockle, Freak Shells, Glass Sponge, Moon Snail, Sanibel, Sanibel Shell Fair and Show, Scallop, Shark's Eye, Shell Shows, Sponge, Triton, ZigZag Scallop Right Valve | 4 comments

Eleuthra seashells October 2015 -1

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).

Sunnye Dinger Eleuthra seashell display Sanibel Shell festival-1

Her sister Lisa (TX) had some awesome displays too for which they both won awards.

lisa fitzgerald sanibel shell festival exhibitor 2016-1


Smooth Tellin shell Laciolina laevigata Eleuthera BahamsSmooth Tellin shell Laciolina laevigata Eleuthera Bahams

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).

difference between shark eye shell false sanibel shell festival exhibit-1

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.

Stefanie Wolf Sanibel Shell Museum marine biologist.jpg

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!

Ziczac Zig zag scallop both valves shell festival blue ribbon-1

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…

Albino shells prickle cockle

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.

Albinistic shells lack normal color

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.

ann joffe freak shell exhibit sanibel festival-1

Check out this PALLID CARRIER SHELL with an attached GLASS SPONGE (from the Philippines) by exhibitor Robert Linn. Wildly beautiful.

Pallid carrier shell with glass sponge Sanibel festival

Last week I posted about the artistic side of the show with SAILORS VALENTINES, shell frames and all sorts of shell art and 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.
atlantic triton shell festival Holly Nordyke exhibit

Hope to see you next year at the 80th Annual Sanibel Shell Festival!


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What Do Sanibel And Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Have In Common?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 in Cuba Seashells, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Lined Sea Star, Millipede Starfish, Starfish | 19 comments

Sanibel millipede nine arm sea star

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…

lee and susan with Sanibel sea stars

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.

Masses of shells stranded on Sanibel 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!!!

purple color fighting conchs Sanibel

We also ran over to Blind Pass Captiva and found a few goodies like some “Candy”…

candy corn shell

Oooooh, and look at Clark’s nice sized candy.

clark rambo shell find

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.

seashells found on Captiva Island

If you remember, we visited Lee and Susan a couple of time when they lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and 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!

FUM Lee Merrill exhibit

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.

Lee Merrill Malacology meeting

Thank you Colin, Rodger and Dr Leal (pictured with us) for organizing the event and for encouraging us to come.

Sanibel Rambo, Merrill, Jose Leal meeting-1

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???


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