Blind Pass Captiva still had plenty of seashells piled up along the shore line yesterday. I peeked in one of the shell buckets perched on top of the shell mound and gasped…
I asked Judy from Indiana if she realized the shell she had in her bucket and she said “I’m not sure what it is but it’s a piece from a big shell so that’s why I kept it”. Well it looks to me like she found a very large lip piece of a QUEEN HELMET shell that is not commonly found here. Good eye, Judy!
Judy was shelling with her family… and I mean to tell you, she has lots of family members that love to shell! A shelling family is a happy family. Here is Judy, Larry, Cary, Joe, Shaun, Jenny, Evy, Fiona and Sam. Beautiful, right?
I didn’t see many of the SANIBEL SIX, but I was amazed to see so many CERITHS washed in like this. Everybody was collecting them.
I also met Shelling Sister Wanda’s grandson Cody (PA) who kept racing up to her on the beach after his snorkeling expeditions to deposit his seashell loot into his shell bag. Treasure!
On a side line, I have to make a note that last year June 27, 2011 there was a juvenile FLORIDA BLACK BEAR sighted on Sanibel that was thought to have come over from Pine Island on a negative low tide. BLACK BEARS are native to Florida but not compatible with highly populated areas (with humans!). Now as an adult at 3 years old weighing 250 pounds he has “become a nuisance” by showing up in neighborhoods and getting into a trash can or two. I was so hoping we could catch a glimpse of him but as of 1 p.m. today, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trapped him and relocated him off island. Relocated where? I have no clue. “They” won’t say. It’s bitter sweet. He was a very exciting visitor but I know he needs to find a mate and have a bigger place to roam before he gets in trouble on the island. I hope his new home offers him a long, happy and healthy life. Good bye, Mr. Black Bear.
Sanibel Black Bear photo by William Epranian on Facebook
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 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 Shells
We found a few LONG-SPINED STAR SHELLS…
Long Spined Star Shell
…and some WEST INDIAN TOP SHELLS or also called MAGPIE SHELLS…
West Indian Top shell
Clark found some absolutely perfect MILK CONCHS (MK cleaned these up for us- they look so amazing!)….
We snorkeled around the grasses…..( I think I might have to rename MurexKen as MermanKen- he’s a fish!)
Aqua man MurexKen
We snorkeled around bridges….
Bridge Florida Keys
…where MurexAlice found a nice SEA URCHIN…
MurexAlice with urchin
We snorkeled around CORAL REEFS alongside QUEEN ANGELFISH ….
Queen Angel with coral
We snorkeled around sandy sea bottoms to see this SHORTNOSE BATFISH……weird!……
I spotted a potential keeper shell… is it empty? Please be empty!
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Tropical Fish in the Florida Keys