Archive for Milk Conch

caribbean beach sea glass shells buoy sand dollars

Holy Cowrie! We have had an exshellent adventure shelling the beaches of Cat Island in the out island of the Bahamas.

cowrie reticulated helmet cat island bahamas

Clark and I along with our travel buddies Jane and John packed up our shorts, bathing suits and snorkel gear and headed for this very undeveloped, laid back gorgeous Caribbean island to see what kind of beach treasures we could find.

rambos of i love shelling cat island bahamas

We found all sorts of spectacsheller shells and BEACH BLING!

sea beans seashells cat island bahamas beach combing

We scoured just about very inch of this 48 mile long island by renting a jeep to take us through the rugged back road trails leading to every beach we could find. Although the rutty  roads were fierce, the vicious sand burrs were our worse enemy. We had to help each other “un-burr” ourselves each time we got back in the jeep. LOL

cat island jeep through sand burrs

It was worth every bump, sticker and long trek to the northern shore on the Atlantic…

beach combing cat island bahamas clark rambo

to find SEA GLASS…

seaglass beach cat island bahamas

NERITES, WEST INDIAN TOP SHELLS and ROCK SHELLS…

bleeding tooth nerites rock snail shell

and shells like this WEST INDIAN CHANK and FLAME HELMET…

collecting seashells Cat Island Bahamas chank shell helmet

We even snorkeled to see beautiful fish and live creatures like this SEASTAR…

snorkeling cat island bahamas

While finding a few “keeper” SEA BISCUITS in the calm Shanna’s Cove …

snorkeling for sea biscuits cat island bahamassnorkeling for sea biscuits cat island bahamas

We canoed in the Fernadez Bay…

clark canoe cat island bahamas

To find MILK CONCHS like this…

milk conchs cat island bahamas

Every day we marveled at our loot…

Jane shells from Cat Island Bahamas

And shellebrated for each other on “first finds”. This was the first time I’ve ever found WEST INDIAN CHANK SHELLS! Shellzam!

pam rambo shelling cat island bahamas

Once I get our shells unpacked and go through a few more photos, I will give you more details of this beautiful island, places to stay, the food we ate, the amazing people we met… and of course some identification of some of these awesome seashells we found.

caribbean shells cat island bahamas

Oh yeah, we also saw …. errrrr ….. SHARKS. But no worries, I’ll show you my crazy video of them very soon so you view it in the comfort and safety of your own home. Stay tuned for more of our shelling adventure to Cat Island Bahamas!

cat island map

Caicos best seashells rambo

I am still in awe of how many different seashells we found on our vacation to North Caicos and Middle Caicos of the Turks and Caicos Islands. I’m also in awe (okay, let me tell the truth…. “overwhelmed” would be the right word) because I took over 1100 photographs. Yikes! So this is what I’m going to do since I can’t smoosh all of these amazing shells, photos and info in just this one post. I’m going to show you our best finds now and then in my next post I’ll show you where we found them and a few maps just in case you ever want to go there on one of your shelling vacations too. After that, I’ll show you where we stayed on North Caicos and a few restaurants and other things we loved about the islands. But for now, lets get on with the seashell show! I showed you Clark’s KING HELMET, my ANGULAR TRITON and some QUEEN CONCHS on my last post but these PARTRIDGE TUNS for sure made it on our “besties” list. They look like really fragile scotch bonnets without the thick lip.

caicos partidge tuns

Here’s a close up the bottom of our LONG-SPINED STAR SHELL I showed on my vacation “teaser” (heehee) post. I say “our” shell because Clark and I were snorkeling side by side when we both spotted this beauty as the same time.  Gorgeous, right?

long spined star shell

Here are the different colors of the GAUDY ASAPHIS I talked about…

colors of gaudy asaphis

We could have gathered hundreds of doubles! Clark collected so many different colors then picked through them to get the best to bring back…

clark guady asaphis caicos

The double SPECKLED TELLINS were such a treat too! We are always tickled to find beautiful bivalves when both valves are still attached…

caicos speckled tellin

Believe it or not, this is my first BLEEDING TOOTH NERITE. I saw oodles of NERITES, but since I was trying to be very selective in what we brought home, I chose this one I’ve never found before to bring home and it’s one of my faves!

bleeding tooth nerite

And of course the SUNRISE TELLINS. Oh my. They really look like they have been colorfully painted then sprayed with a high gloss coating. It was astonishing to find a perfect double SUNRISE TELLIN laying in the shallow water half covered by sand. A true gift of the sea.

sunrise tellin seashells caicos

Oops! I forgot to put my MILK CONCH in my bestie photo but this has to be part of my favorites list too!

milk conch turks caicos

I found this MILK CONCH and a juvie QUEEN CONCH the first night we arrived… which was my birthday night. YAY! We didn’t want to waste a minute so we walked the beach as soon as we arrived and these washed up at my feet. YAY Again!

pam conchs caicos

I love the minis!!!! Just like here in Sanibel, if we are visiting a beach and we aren’t finding the larger shells in the wrack line, at the shoreline or in the water, we start looking for miniature shells. We found them! They are just so stinkin sweet, arent they?

caicos miniature seashells

But wait! There’s more! I want to share Jane and John’s besties too!

best seashells Turks caicos jjh

You saw John Johnny Rescue’s QUEEN CONCH and Jane’s ANGULAR TRITON yesterday and they found the SUNRISE TELLINS and PARTRIDGE TUNS as well…. But… John found this very cool CONE!

turks caicos cone conus

It really doesn’t match exactly with that thin lip, high spire and a few other details and I havent had time to research further, but our best guess is that it’s a CROWN CONE.

UPDATE! Deenie just commented to tell us that this is not a CONE at all! It’s a juvenile HAWKWING CONCH! How cool is that. Now that I know what it is, I can completely recognize the shape and now I know why the lip is so thin unlike a CONE and the spire is so tall. Thank you so much Deenie!

caicos crown cone

Well how about that… John found an adult HAWKWING CONCH as well so you can see what that juvie will look like when it grows up.

hawkwing conch caicos jh

And look at the color and lines of this RETICULATED COWRIE-HELMET!

Reticulated cowrie-helmet

It is a spectacular shell! Good find John!

reticulated Cypraecassis testiculus

I’m still stunned and amazed at this next shell…. well I should really say “BEACH BLING”. It’s the OPERULUM to the COLORFUL MOON SHELL! It’s a SHIVA SHELL.

operculum gaudy natica

What? Why haven’t we ever found these on Sanibel??? We have gobs of COLORFUL MOONS (GAUDY NATICAS) so why don’t we find their OPERCULUMS more often? Weird. Plain Weird. Thanks Susan for the heads up on this beaut. So now we have something new to look for in SouthWest Florida too so look at the exterior of this SHIVA SHELL to put this in your shelling brain. Anyway, John found this one in the high tide wrack line mixed in with some other Beach Bling and a few days later I found one too but it wasn’t perfect like this…

operculum colorful moon shell

So how cool are these shells from The Caicos, huh? Let me show you the whole kit and caboodle of shells Clark and I brought back. Keep in mind, after rinsing and inspecting the shells we collected each day, we didn’t bring home the majority of our shells to Sanibel. We inspected for cracks, critters, crud or replaced them for better specimens. We want to respect the islands, sand and beaches so we have to be conservative with the shells we take.  We only kept the ones we knew we would either display in our home or research for the blog. Look how beautiful they are! I could just sit and stare at all of these treasures for hours at a time!

different seashells caicos iLS

I’ll try to give you as much information as possible about our stay in a short time so I’m already working on a map to show you where most of our shells were found on our exshellent adventure!

seashells turks and caicos

Clark snorkeling the Keys

Clark snorkeling the Keys

The Florida Keys aren’t known for beachcombing since seashells just don’t roll up on their beaches like they do here in Sanibel, Florida but they DO have shells……you just have to know where to dive or snorkel for them. This was our first time shell collecting in the Keys so we were very fortunate to have wonderful shell-crazy friends MurexKen and MurexAlice (who have been shelling the middle Keys for over 20 years) take us out in their boat to show us there are shells to be found in those vast aqua waters.

MurexKen with Queen Conch

MurexKen with a Queen Conch

Within an hour or so arriving in the Keys, we strapped on our fins, mask, snorkel and grabbed our shell bags then splashed into the water to seek and explore throughout the weekend. MurexKen found a beautiful live QUEEN CONCH to point out the amazing colors and to show us how many there were living in the grasses. Since it was alive, he put it back and told us there is a big fat fine for keeping a live one. Good!

We found lots of AMERICAN STAR-SHELLS……

American Star Shell

American Star Shells

We found a few LONG-SPINED STAR SHELLS…

Long Spined Star Shell

Long Spined Star Shell

…and some WEST INDIAN TOP SHELLS or also called MAGPIE SHELLS…

West Indian Top shell

West Indian Top shell

Clark found some absolutely perfect MILK CONCHS (MK cleaned these up for us- they look so amazing!)….

Milk Conchs

Milk Conchs

We snorkeled around the grasses…..( I think I might have to rename MurexKen as MermanKen- he’s a fish!)

Aqua man MurexKen

Aqua man MurexKen

We snorkeled around bridges….

Bridge Florida Keys

Bridge Florida Keys

…where MurexAlice found a nice SEA URCHIN…

MurexAlice with urchin

MurexAlice with urchin

We snorkeled around CORAL REEFS alongside QUEEN ANGELFISH ….

Queen Angel with coral

Queen Angel with coral

We snorkeled around sandy sea bottoms to see this SHORTNOSE BATFISH……weird!……

shortnose batfish

shortnose batfish

I spotted a potential keeper shell… is it empty? Please be empty!

snorkeling for seashells

snorkeling for seashells

Oh YaYah- Nobody’s home! He’s a little beat up but I can try to clean it up…..

Empty juvenile queen conch aperture

Empty juvenile queen conch aperture

I was so happy to find an empty QUEEN but mine couldn’t compare to MerMan MurexKen’s Queen Conch with no mollusk inside! Since the lip was broken off they were going to toss it back…..then offered it to us. Of course we’ll take it!

Empty Queen Conch

Empty Queen Conch

I cleaned up most of the shells with 1/4 bleach and water solution except another shell MurexKen gave us…… This outstanding HORSE CONCH with the brown “skin” or PERIOSTRACUM still on it- I love that! I just let that soak in a bucket of water with just a tad of bleach so it wouldn’t take the brown off. After I took this photo, I put it back in the bucket to soak some more to get the white “freckles” to soften up even more so I can try to rub them all off. Hey, and take a look at that little conch I found that was so beat up….. I think it’s coming along!

Queen conch, juvenile queen, horse conch

Queen conch, juvenile queen, horse conch

We normally have shells roll up to our feet in Sanibel so this was a fun trip for us to work a little harder (snorkeling’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it! ;) ) at seeing different shells in a different environment. The drive from Sanibel to Big Pine Key was 5 1/2 hours and worth every minute of it to spend time with MurexKen and MurexAlice.  It was a trip to remember for sure- Thank you both!

Map Sanibel to Big Pine Key

Map Sanibel to Big Pine Key

I have to show you one more fascinating shell….. MurexKen found this QUEEN HELMET a few days before we got there. To read more about his finds, he posted a trip report on Trip Advisor CLICK HERE.  I don’t think it gets any prettier than this…..

Queen Helmet Shell

Queen Helmet Shell

I took some of the photos with a new Fuji underwater camera with a movie feature that was pretty good  until it opened up underwater and flooded the camera. Needless to say, I took it back. The good news is….  before it flooded, I got a nice video- Click HERE to see it! Also, click HERE to see the DEER COWRIES Clark found.

Fish in Florida Keys

Tropical Fish in the Florida Keys