Archive for Caribbean Shells

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

 

 

May
08

Shelling Trip To Grand Bahama Island

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seashells of the bahama islands

Life is short… go shelling!

pink conch shell in the bahamas

Whenever we get an opportunity to go shelling in a different part of the world, we jump at the chance.

seashells found in grand Bahama island

Fortunately, the opportunity to travel to Grand Bahama Island for a shelling trip was just a bonus. My husband Clark is very involved in a service organization called Rotary International which helps create positive lasting change for communities around the world. Grand Bahama Rotarians along with several Florida Rotary Districts met for a conference at the Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport for several days to … well … do their Do-Gooder deeds. Yep, that’s what I call them… Do-Gooders. LOL

grand lucayan resort bahamas

So after the DoGooders finished doing their good work for the world, we stayed a couple of extra days to explore the island for seashells.  At most of the big resorts in the Bahamas and the rest of the world (besides Sanibel and Captiva), they clean the beaches every morning to make it look sandier and nicer. For regular tourists, I guess that’s a pretty look for them but for beach combers like you and me… we want to see those wrack lines! Yes, they need pick up the trash by humans but the beaches are actually much healthier if the beaches stay natural with shells and plant matter remaining on the beach. Needless to say, we didn’t find many shells or bling near our resort so we rented a car to find the ungroomed beaches. We didn’t have much time to research the best shelling locations so we took a stab in the dark and headed to the east end of the island.

rented car on grand bahama island

We stopped at several different beaches to find interesting shells and beach bling…

conch shell on sandy beach in the bahamas

 

And stopped at every cute little shell shack.bahamas shell shack

And as luck would have it, we pulled into McLean’s Town to this dock…

firefly bone fishing dock in the bahamas

We asked a few of the locals if we could find a boat captain to take us to some of the out islands to find seashells. Oh Yay-ah! We stopped at the perfect place. We found out that Joe-T is the best bone fisherman in town and he introduced us to his son Joe-L who grew up on the water boating to the best beaches and flats areas to find shells. So let’s go shelling!

Joe-L grand bahamas shelling guide with pam and clark from Sanibel

After a gorgeous boat ride, Joe-L pulled up to a sandy beach with lots of wrack lines and rocks.

private guide boat in grand bahamas

He showed us where to look to find shells like this WEST INDIAN CHANK SHELL …. which they call a LAMP SHELL (but honestly, I thought he was calling it a LAMB shell- hahaha). Nice find Joe- L! (and thanks for giving it to us!)

Joe-L grand bahama shelling guide with chank lamp shell

I was over the moon when my first shell of the day was this FLOWERY WEST INDIAN LACE MUREX. My very first one of this species with the brown color form.

pam found a west indian lace murex in bahamas

It’s perfect and completely empty.

west indian lace murex found in the bahamas Chicoreus (Triplex) florifer

Clark was happiest to find this awesome ANGULAR TRITON. He reminded me right away how much bigger this one is compared to the best one I found in Turks And Caicos last year. heehee – Always a competition and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

bahamas angular triton

You know I loooove my beach bling so I was thrilled to find this WEST INDIAN CHANK EGG CHAIN washed up on the beach. Look how big it is! It looks like some sort of a sci-fi alien sea creature egg case.

west indian chank egg chain case

Most of the sacks were empty and filled with sand but I found a few dried tiny juvenile CHANKS inside. Cool!

west indian chank egg chain case with juvenile shell

We saw plenty of beautiful fish and other live creatures but it’s always breathtaking to see the live CUSHION SEA STARS…

cushion sea star starfish bahamascushion sea star starfish bahamas

Our boating day with Joe-L was such an unexpected, unplanned delight… it’s a shelling trip we will never forget. These are just a few of the many different varieties of shells we found.

shelling trip shells from Grand Bahama islandshelling trip shells from Grand Bahama island

After shelling all day, we were famished. Conveniently, Joe-L’s mom Eva has a restaurant at their dock so we stayed for an outrageously good lobster dinner worth every reasonable penny.

EJs bayside cafe grand bahama island

Since this was such a short trip, we didn’t have time to check out the west end of the island for shells but I can only imagine we could find some secrets spots there too. It’s such a sweet little island I hope we return really soon. Oh and when I get our shells cleaned up and organized, I’ll post another photo.

caribbean shells from bahamas

Update- May 11, 2014… Now that we’ve had time to get home and clean up our shells and BEACH BLING this is our loot!

Grand Bahama Island seashells found May 2014

Not bad for 2 days, right? Here’s another closer photo of the smaller shells and bling so you can see how many different species we found. They are sooooo beautiful!

caribbean sea shells from Grand Bahama Island

If you decide to go to Grand Bahama Island, this might be useful information…

To reach Joe-L or Joe-T for a shelling trip, here’s the email address- baysideexplorers@gmail.com or phone is 242-353-3676 or 242- 375-5219.

The hotel concierge gave me the car rental info Island Jeep and Car Rental- I thought it was reasonable and the car was great. Oh and by the way, the roads are in fantastic shape compared to some of the other islands (like Cat Island and TCI) but you still have to drive on the left side. (I drove the car the whole time- its easy)

The Grand Lucayan was very nice, reasonably priced, had lots of options for restaurants, shopping, etc and only a little over an hour’s drive to McLean’s Town and even less to the west end. The main reason we stayed there is because the conference was held there.

And before you ask about transportation… we didn’t fly over to the island. Part of the Rotary Convention was held on a cruise boat… the Bahamas Celebration. It was pretty cheap for transportation to the island from the Port of Palm Beach but Clark and I aren’t really overnight cruise boat kind of travelers. We want to get where we are going … so we could have skipped the cruise boat if it wasn’t part of the organized group. Next time, we will find a fight or maybe even check into the Fast Cat which isn’t an overnight cruise.

Hope you enjoyed the cyber trip to the island, mon!

colorful conch shells in bahamas