Archive for World shelling

Jul
25

Mind Blowing Beach Bling in Guantanamo Bay

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collecting sea glass in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Do you get excited when you find SEA GLASS? Me too! It’s another beautiful gem most beachcombers love to collect while looking for shells and other BEACH BLING on any walk on any beach. Oddly enough, lots of our friends don’t really get why we travel the world in search of beach treasure… until I tell them we found a honey hole for SEA GLASS. Then their ears perk up! LOL Well, since it’s impossible to bring back enough SEAGLASS in our suitcase for everybody who wants some from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba… here is a CYBERSHELLING (CYBER-SEAGLASSING) photo from last week’s adventure on Glass Beach in Gtmo (CLICK HERE for the history of this SEAGLASS). Just click on the next photo to enlarge it so you can find your own SEA GLASS. Fun! Then I’ll show you some of the other cool BLING we found.

Glass Beach guantanamo Gtmo seaglass

In my last post (CLICK HERE), I showed you some of the beautiful shells and areas we combed but couldn’t really explain how much fun Clark, me, Lee and Susan had picking through the high tide dry wrack lines in search of Bling. See that incredible SEA FAN Susan found? Un-beee-liev-able!

Rambo and Merrill shelling beach in Guantanamo Bay Cuba GTMO

I just loooove me some Bling! I’m trying to identify all of the different SEA URCHINS we found but it is not so easy. I’ll try to get close up photos of each one but oh lawd, I need more time. So … I’m almost positive we have…. WEST INDIAN SEA EGGS, VARIEGATED URCHINS, LONG-SPINED URCHINS, CLUB-SPINED URCHINS, ROCK-BORING URCHINS and SEA BISCUITS. We could  have picked up hundreds of the CLUB-SPINED SEA URCHINS that had probably gotten tossed up by a storm weeks before. They were in the highest wrack line and completely dried and preserved. Cool!

We also brought home SEA HEARTS, HAMBURGER BEANS (SEA BEANS), a few pieces of CORAL, 2 small SEA FANS, a few VERTEBRAE, PURPLE CRAB shells (haven’t looked them up yet), OPERCULUMS, old turquoise CUBAN TILES and… you see that piece of striped POTTERY on the bottom right? Lee told me that piece probably dates back to the Spanish- American war era circa 1898. Amazing, right?

Gtmo Beach Bling urchins, sea beans, pottery chards, crabs, operculums

Lee found these pieces of POTTERY from the same era. Wow- Its almost a complete plate! He said he will donate some of the pieces to the base for history and environmental research.  (Errrr…. my piece came home with me- it’s way too cool! heehee)

Spanish pottery fragments in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Talk about cool… I found two complete old Cuban Hatuey beer GLASS BOTTLES made in the 1950s. These were so popular, Bacardi is now making this beer again.

Hatuey Beer bottles Cuba circa 1948 found in Gtmo

More awesome BLING on the beach! Lee found this WWII US Navy uniform button while he was picking through the rock and pebbles looking for SEAGLASS like in the CYBERSHELLING pic. Whoot Whoot!

Vintage US Navy button found on beach

Let me show you just a few more shell photos before I sign out for the day…. Clark found these spectasheller THORNY OYSTERS that haven’t even been really cleaned up yet. They are gorgeous. We find these in SW Florida but most times they are only fragments.

Thorny Oysters Spondylus americanus found Guantanamo Gtmo Cuba

Here’s the interior of one…

Thorny Oysters Spondylus americanus interior Guantanamo Gtmo Cuba

Lee found the mac daddy of the THORNY OYSTERS- it’s huge and with some good spines…. Both sides!

Lee with double thorny oyster

It was completely packed with hard mud and limestone so it will take a little work to get this baby cleaned up but it will be well worth it. It’s a beauty!

double thorny oyster gtmo cuba

I always think these are so funny…. the BLEEDING TOOTH. Shall I say more?

Bleeding Tooth shells Nerita peloronta Gtmo Cuba

These are some of my favorite minis we found this trip… BEADED MITERS.

Beaded Miter shell Mitra nodulosa Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

Clark was excited (and me too) to find this HEXAGONAL MUREX since we’ve never found one before.

Muricopsis oxytata Hexagonal Murex Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

It’s always a thrill to find a new shell!

Muricopsis oxytata Hexagonal Murex Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

Again, we have to thank Lee and Susan for sponsoring us, being our shelling guides and letting us share this extraordinary place with everybody to learn what types of shells we can all find in the other Caribbean Islands. We are forever grateful.

Lee and Susan Merrill Guantanamo Bay sunset

I will get more shells cleaned up and photographed soon but the FLAME HELMETS are so shellsational, I had to add show you these before I go out and hit my home beach. It was fabulous finding shells in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba but it’s always so wonderful to be back home on Sanibel Island… especially with a cool evening low tide. Have a nice weekend!

Flame helmet Cassis Flammea  Guantanamo Cuba Gtmo

Jul
23

Treasures Found in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

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Caribbean shells collected in Gtmo Gitmo Guantanamo Cuba

Shellzam! It’s astounding to me that in one long weekend visiting Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Clark and I collected oodles of stunning sea shells, containers of colorful SEAGLASS, gobs of gorgeous SEA URCHINS and buckets of bountiful BEACH BLING. These are the shells Clark and I found in just one day…

second day shelling beaches guantanamo bay cuba

Guantanamo Bay (aka GTMO or Gitmo) is a 45 square mile U.S. Naval Base on the island of Cuba surrounded by picturesque Caribbean waters, rock, sand and CORAL… perfect for our favorite sport of shelling.

finding seashells and sea glass in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

How did we get to go there you ask? Because of this handsome, super fun couple.. our friends Lee and Susan.

Susan and Lee Merrill overlooking Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Since Lee and Susan work at the base and have lived there for almost 4 years, they were our sponsors for our trip when Clark and I were able to visit last year (CLICK HERE) and again to visit this past weekend. Good grief, how did we get so lucky?!

Guantanamo Bay Cuba Rambos

We feel so very fortunate to have been able to be there but much less shell so many beaches in such a short time.

Beaches of Guantanamo Cuba. Windmill, Cable, Kittery, Ferry Landing, Chapman

We collected sooooo many amazing treasures!

sea urchins collected in Guantanamo Cuba

It was a whirlwind shelling adventure as we combed the beaches through rock and CORAL…

Collecting shells on Guantanamo Bay Cuba Beach GTMO

To find sweet mini shells…

miniature caribbean shells on Gitmo Guantanamo beach

We climbed up and down stairs on the cliffs…

Stairs to glass beach gtmo cuba

… to find SEA GLASS and more shells.

Seaglass, small shells and pottery collected at Glass Beach Guantanamo

We snorkeled the bay …

snorkeling guantanamo bay cuba

… to see fish and find more awesome shells.

shells found on guantanamo beach

We went boating…

boating with Lee Merrill in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

… to find SEA HEARTS, BEACH BLING and absolutely more shells.

 

Day 1 Shelling GTMO Guantanamo Bay Cuba beach combingWe climbed up and down boulders and cliffs…

rock climbing by the sea of Guantanamo Bay Cuba

… to find gems and you guessed it- more shells.

collecting seashells in rock beach of Guantanamo Bay Cuba

We boated to more beaches…

Boating Guantanamo Bay Cuba Rambos and Merrills

… to find more treasure and Voila! even more shells.

sea glass and shells on GTMO coral

We combed through scrub brush…

collecting shells in scrub brush at Guantanamo

…to find old Cuban bottles and yup, more shells.

collecting cuban hatuey beer bottle and sea shells

Even when we had to take refuge in the shade for a few minutes…

Finding shade in rocks of GITMO Guantanamo Bay Cuba

We found a cool breeze, a place to refuel and of course, more shells.

scotch bonnet in rocks of GTMO Guantanamo Bay beach

But that’s not all! Okay, so you’re not gonna believe this…. While we were there… Clark, me, Susan and Lee were written up in their local newspaper the Guantanamo Bay Gazette!

Clark Pam Rambo and Susan Lee Merrill on Guantanamo Beach

We were interviewed by Public Affairs Officer, Kelly Wirfel about how the shelling stacks up on Guantanamo Bay (no pun intended- heehee) against some of the other places in the world we’ve traveled while collecting shells. It was soooo muuuuch fuuuun to talk to her!! Omigosh, thank you, Kelly for writing such an amazing article in such little time.

Clark, PAO Kelly Wirfel and Pam Rambo at Windmill Beach Guantanamo Bay, CubaYou can read the article too! Just CLICK HERE or click on the article. Cool!

GTMO Gazette newspaper logoGTMO newspaper Pam and Clark Rambo shells

After each adventurous day in Gtmo, we cleaned, sorted and researched and we are still cleaning, sorting, researching at home. I could look, pick and photograph these shells for days and not get tired of it but it sure was super fun at the end of each day when we all got together at their picnic table to clean and sort…. I love a good Shell N Tell!

Pam Lee and Clark sorting shells

We can’t thank you enough Lee and Susan for an unbelievable adventure on this special island “The Pearl of the Antilles”!

Lee and Susan at the Jerk House in Guantanamo Cuba

And I am very thankful to Susan for taking photos and sharing her excellent photos with us throughout the weekend so I could share them with you too (photos 5, 12, 18, 25, 28). She’s as much of a shutterbug as I am- i love it!

Boating with Susan Merrill in Gtmo

I will be sharing more close-ups of the absolutely stunning shells we found as well as some of the very cool Bling (geez… the SEAGLASS! You won’t believe it) so our story will be continued soon. But just so you know, all of the shells and the ones I will identify on my next post are shells you can find in some of the other Caribbean islands. So don’t worry! Gtmo is not the only place you can find these amazing treasures. Here is a map of where Gtmo is on the island of Cuba and also in relation to some of the other islands. See how close Turks and Caicos is to Gtmo? We found so many of the same shells on our trips to North Caicos, Middle Caicos and also Cat Island and Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas so now you see why.

To be continued so don’t miss Part Two of Our Adventure in Gtmo!

GTMO map

 

 

store bought sea shells from indopacific

Hey, Did you see that wild Elephant on Sanibel’s beach last week? No? How about that Bengal Tiger on Captiva? No… Of course you didn’t- heehee. We all know that those wild animals aren’t native to Southwest Florida but you can still find them in their natural habitat if you travel to the other side of the planet. It’s the same way with shells. Different species of MOLLUSKS live in different parts of the world so when you see these non-native species of shells wash up on our beaches, you know they didn’t get here naturally.  Water currents could never sweep these shells around the world without breaking apart so I have a theory of how they wash up on our beaches.

not local sanibel seed wedding shells

I call these shells “Wedding Shells” because people buy bags of shells to decorate the beach for weddings and parties. Brides want lots of shells for their beach wedding so they purchase cheap bags of foreign shells at a local shell shop (it’s way more expensive to buy local shells). They scatter them along the beach for the beautiful ceremony but since most folks think all shells look alike they think they are doing others a favor by putting more shells on the beach… so they get left behind. Since these store-bought shells don’t always get picked up, the high tide comes in to carry them out into the Gulf Of Mexico to be washed up on the next tide then found by an unsuspecting sheller.

bag of shells for decoration

Earlier this month while investigating Jordyn’s CONE (a Wedding Shell) at Seashells.com, I asked if I could see their best seller of bagged shells. Bill showed me bags and bags of shells just like this and said folks buy these all the time for weddings and parties but wait… Wanna know what he said the most popular reason for folks buying these bags of shells? They spread them on the local beaches for their kids or grandkids to find them. Huh? We already have beautiful shells to find on our beaches. In my humble opinion (and I hope I don’t sound like a spoil sport), I think we should encourage kids to explore the natural gems that wash up on our beaches and find something beautiful in each local treasure…. but also teach them what other shells around the world look like. (I know, sorry, this is coming from a mom of kids with 4 furry legs) Shall we move on? LOL

bag of foreign shells sold on Sanibel

In January, Sarah The Shellanimal was so excited to find one of these TELESCOPE SHELLS  wash up at Blind Pass during Shellabaloo 4 . I hated to tell her she hadn’t found a rare SW Florida shell but after I explained it was a shell from the Indo-Pacific region and how it may have gotten on the beach (a Wedding Shell), she was still happy she found it and said “It’s still a cool shell”. She has such a good attitude.

telescope shell is not a local shell from Sanibel

Susan from Wisconsin found a shell at the lighthouse Beach in March that looks similar to a Caribbean shell so I thought she had a rare find.

susan found an american star shell on Sanibel island

It turned out that it was an Indo-Pacific TROCHUS shell… oops! Another Wedding Shell.

troches shell from info-pacific area

Large TURITELLA SHELLS are very common shells in other parts of the world… but not in SW Florida. At Shellabaloo 2, Murfy (from Texas) found this COMMON TOWER SHELL (Turritella communis… another Wedding Shell. murphy's turtella shell not from sw florida

The number one mistaken identity in shells found on SW Florida beaches is the BABYLONIA shell. This is not a JUNONIA and this is not a shell species that can be found in the Gulf, Atlantic or Caribbean. We did found oodles of beautiful BABYLONIA shells naturally scattered on the beaches on our shelling trip to Thailand since they are very common on the other side of the planet. But if you find one on Sanibel or Captiva…. it’s a Wedding Shell. :)

babylonia shell

There are many other stories I’ve heard for reasons folks wanting to “return shells to the sea” and most are innocent ceremonies or well-meaning ways to get rid of an old collection instead of dumping beautiful shells into the trash. So if I happen to run into you on the beach and you show me a shell or you post that shell on the iLoveShelling Facebook page and I call it a “Wedding Shell”, now you will know why. It may be a pretty shell but it’s not local (not that there’s anything wrong with that) :)

non native shell to sw florida

PS- Isn’t it amazing how many conversations Jordyn’s shell has brought up?

PSS- I am sooooo excited for our Shelling Cruise tomorrow! This one is sold out but check out other dates HERE

shelling adventures trips by pam