Pages Navigation Menu

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

Beach Combing Vacation – Cat Island, Bahamas

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in Caribbean Shells, Cat Island, Flame Helmet, Measled Cowrie, Milk Conch, Queen Conch, Reticulated Cowrie-Helmet, Sea Bisquit, West Indian Chank Shell, West Indian Top Shell, World shelling | 45 comments

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


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! Check out more info on our Cat Island trip CLICK HERE

cat island map

Read More

Seashells Collected From Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 in Atlantic Gray Cowrie, Atlantic Yellow Cowrie, Caribbean Vase Shell, Carrier Shell, Carrot Cone, Checkered Nerites, Common Dove Shell, Cuba Seashells, Deltoid Rock Shell, Flamingo Tongue, Glory Of The Atlantic Cone, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, McGinty's Latirus, Measled Cowrie, Morum / Wood-Louse, Reticulated Cowrie-Helmet, Triton's Trumpet, West Indian Crown Conch, West Indian Fighting Conch, West Indian Top Shell | 50 comments


caribbean seashell species Guantanamo bay cuba

Wow, right? We were floored by how many different species of shells we found on our shelling trip to Guantanamo Bay Cuba. These are only half of the shells we found that are identified, cleaned and photographed but we still have quite a few more to go… like the HELMETS, MUREXES and other types of TRITONS. Thank goodness for the much needed help of Lee, MurexKen and wearing the pages thin of the many shell books I’ve acquired over the years. So to start with the shells that are pictured above,  I’ll let you know what they are just in case you have any of these you collected on a vacation to Caribbean waters and want to I.D. them or want to put them on your seashells bucket list. I’m sure the identifications are good because of the help I got but since most of these were firsts for us I would like to correct anything that is dead wrong.

Charonia variegata gunatanamo bay cuba

 The TRITONS TRUMPET was obviously the cream of the seashell crop for us.  You may have heard the exuberance in my voice from the video on my last postLOL

triton trumpet shell cuba GTMO

Finding HAWK-WING CONCHS was another thrill! We were astounded by how many different growth stages we found in this species. The top three on the left are adults with that nice “wing” but take a look how small the 4 are in the top right corner. They are a different form of the regular HAWK-WING… they are DWARF HAWK-WINGS. And then look at the bottom row… from left to right, you can see the growth of the thick outer lip.

hawk-wing strombus raninus dwarf shell gtmo cuba

I’ve always wanted to find a perfect RETICULATED COWRIE-HELMET! Well, now we have them in every size and wish I could show you close ups of each one and their colors but I have to show you so many other shells. 24 hours in each day is not enough! So many cool shells!

Cypraecassis testiculus Reticulate Cowrie-helmet gtmo cuba

Like the MEASLED COWRIE in different colors and growth stages…

measled cowrie Macrocypraea zebra gtmo cuba

We found ATLANTIC GRAY COWRIES but since all of the ones we found were a little beach worn none of them were “gray”… they were yellow.

Luria cinerea Atlantic Gray cowrie

We did find ATLANTIC YELLOW COWRIES… and they aren’t yellow! They are spotted brown. Ha!

atlantic yellow cowrie Erosaria acicularis

Clark can spot those CONES. He found both of these CARROT CONES…

Conus daucus carrot cone gtmo cuba

AND he found these rare GLORY OF THE ATLANTIC CONES…

Conus granulatus Glory of the Atlantic cone gtmo cuba

We both found quite a few MCGINTY’S LATIRUS shells. They look like our candy!

Latirus mcgintyi  McGintys latirus carinifera gtmo cuba

There were hundreds of WEST INDIAN TOP SHELLS (I always call them TURBANS) stuck in the rocks but we only chose to bring these six home. We always keep in mind that we have to travel with our shell finds. Yes, we could ship more of them home but we never want to take more than our fair share and we never want to take shells that will be boxed up to sit in a closet and never seen again. On vacation, we always go through our shells at night and pick out the best specimens then take back or give away the shells we replaced. Trust me, it took a few trips to learn this lesson!

Cittarium pica west indian top shell gtmo cuba

These CARIBBEAN VASE shells are just as big as the WEST INDIAN TOPS and really thick and heavy. Even the best ones look a little beat up but for some reason I loooove these shells…

Vasum muricatum caribbean vase

Oh yaya! And if you know me, you know I love my CARRIER SHELLS! I found FOUR of them! Again, not so pretty but look at the one on the far right… “he’s” carrying around at little “button” shell that he glued to himself. All four collected pieces of shell, CORAL and ROCK . I guess I like them because I can relate to them so much. We both collect shells!

atlantic american carrier shell Xenophora (Xenophora) conchyliophora cuba

The WEST INDIAN CROWN CONCHS were pretty common down there too but it was fun to find the different colors, sizes from smooth to spiny.

west Indian Crown conch Melongena gtmo cuba

These sweet little COMMON DOVE SHELLS are less than an inch but soooo beautiful. We found tons of mini shells too!

Columbella mercatoria common dove shell

…Like these CHECKERED NERITES. How cute! Now I do wish I had collected all of these shells that I saw because these would look awesome on the inside edge of a shell frame, right?

Nerita tessellata checkered nerite

 Most of the DELTOID ROCK SHELLS were very worn (as most rock shells look to me) but these were the nicest we found…

deltoid rock shell gtmo cuba thais deltoidea

FLAMINGO TONGUES! I like the shell but I think I like the name even better.

Cyphoma gibbosum flamingo tongue gtmo cuba

And we found these cutie little MORONS… Oops! I meant to say MORUMS! WOOD-LOUSE MORUMS. We laughed every time we picked one up because the first time we found one, I called it a “Moron” by mistake. LOL It stuck so now of course we always call them Morons…. not that there’s anything wrong with a moron (for you Seinfeld fans!)

Morum oniscus wood-louse shell gtmo cuba

To make you all feel right at home, these last shells are FIGHTING CONCHS. Don’t they look similar to our FLORIDA FIGHTING CONCHS  we find in southwest Florida? But then look a little closer… the spines are a little different and even the colors are somewhat different too. These are WEST INDIAN FIGHTING CONCHS!

west indian fighting conch Strombus pugilis gtmo cuba

Later in the week when I can get more done, I will show you the rest of the collection and a few more pictures of Cuba. But remember, these are not just shell from Cuba! Most of these shells can be collected on other islands in the Caribbean. We saw some of the same shells in TURKS AND CAICOS (CLICK HERE) but after getting a taste of some of these other shells, Clark and I are bound and determined to find more places we can find these shells that everybody can travel to. The hunt is 0n! So if you know other islands we can find these, please let us know!

CARIBBEAN seashells

Again, THANK YOU Susan and Lee for such an amazing friendship to make this possible for us to share this exshellent adventure!

pam clark susan lee gtmo cuba

 For Part 1 – Our Weekend Collecting Seashells In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba- CLICK HERE

For Part 2- It Doesn’t Git-Mo Better Shelling Than This (Video) – CLICK HERE



Read More

Our Weekend Collecting Seashells In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Cuba Seashells, Cuban Frog Shell, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Reticulated Cowrie-Helmet, Triton's Trumpet | 92 comments

caribbean seashells of guantanamo bay cuba

Somebody pinch me! Did we really get to travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to collect seashells? If I’m still dreaming, I haven’t woken up because I am looking at the most beautiful Caribbean shells from Cuba I’ve ever seen and have some awesome photos that have magically appeared. But honestly, I think Clark and I just might be the luckiest souls on the planet because we received a special invitation to visit the Guantanamo Bay military base by the coolest beachcombers we’ve ever met- our sponsors Susan and Lee have lived there for over two years.

beach combing guantanamo cuba lee susan

We knew we were in another world when they took us to one of the first beaches and these were the shells we found in and around the rocks. And y’all, these weren’t in the water! They were all sitting on the beach wedged in between rocks and coarse dark sand…

caribbean seashells gtmo cuba

I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found my first ever RETICULATED COWRIE-HELMET…

reticulated cowrie helmet seashell cuba

There were a lot of firsts for me… My first CUBAN FROG SHELL!

UPDATE: Oops! yes I found my first CUBAN FROG SHELL on this trip but this isn’t it. LOL This one is a CORRUGATED FROG SHELL or also called the GAUDY FROG SHELL. To see the CUBAN FROG … CLICK HERE

Let’s try this again…. This is my first GAUDY FROG SHELL! hahaha

cuban frog shell guantanamo cuba

Our generous host Lee knows every square inch of the beaches and told us what to look for when we arrived at each different beach.

lee hairy triton seashell guantanamo cuba

But! He was even surprised when he found a very hairy ATLANTIC HAIRY TRITON laying high on the beach in between the rocks. Boom Shellalaka!

cymatium vespaceum hairy triton guantanamo cuba

Our fabulous hostess Susan was the first to find a perfect TRITON’S TRUMPET…

triton trumpet gtmo guantanamo cuba seashell

Once Clark saw Susan’s TRITON’S TRUMPET, he was like a bloodhound after a new scent. He didn’t even have time to take off his snorkeling vest he wore from the boat to the beach… he was on the hunt. Of course! He found one and it is huuuuujah!

clark tritons trumpet shell gitmo

This is how big it is in my hand (because Clark couldnt stand still for one more minute of posing with it because he was way too focused on finding another one! hahaha)

triptons trumpet seashell collected in cuba

Right after Clark found his TRITON, I found another first… a FLAME HELMET.

pam flame helmet shell gtmo cuba

I still can’t believe what a beautiful site it was to see Clark’s shell bag…

caribbean seashells cuba gtmo

 We moved on to another beach without so many rocks but still found shells like this HAWK-WING CONCH that was half buried in packed sand.

hawk wing shell gtmo guantanamo cuba shelling

We even found a entire dried CHITON with all of its segments intact attached to a small rock…

dried chiton cuba

Truthfully, I feel so guilty showing yall all of these incredible shells we found without this being a tourist destination that you can travel to as well. So I especially feel a little funny about telling you that not only do they have great shells at GTMO…. but…. Okay, get out the drool cup y’all ….. because we even found gorgeous SEAGLASS.

collect sea glass guantanamo bay cuba

We collected handfuls of turquoise blue, green and cobalt blue SEA GLASS at a beach appropriately named Glass Beach.

seaglass of guantanamo bay cuba

Lee found several pieces of old Coca Cola bottles with “CUBA” stamped on the bottom of them. He showed me a card written by Mark Halsey, a former GTMO resident and jewelry maker who wrote…

“…Stories have it that some glass comes from pirate ships that tried to find safety just inside the bay only to fall short and sink near it’s entrance but most of the gems that wash ashore probably come from an enlisted men’s club that overlooked the bay back in the late 1800’s. Known as the ‘White Hat Club’ after headgear worn by enlisted men of that era, this club was a place where enlisted men could let off some steam after a long days work. Prior to any environmental awareness, the sailors would just toss their empty beer, wine and liquor bottles into the cove below. To this day sea glass gems of every color can be found in abundance on this beautiful stretch of beach. Whether from pirate ships to tipsy sailors, Glass Beach glitters with history and has helped Guantanamo Bay Cuba earn the nickname ‘Pearl of the Antilles‘.”

sea glass coca cola bottle cuba

 Just like any day of shelling on most beaches, we had to work for our treasures. We had to do some rock climbing…

climbing rocks for shells guantanamo cuba

We sloshed around through MANGROVE roots (where Clark found this awesome red FLAT ZIGZAG SCALLOP)…

clark shells mangrove roots guantanamo cuba

 We snorkeled for a few gems…

snorkeling for seashells cuba

And we walked…. and walked…. and walked over rocks, sand and through surf to find our gifts from the sea…

tritons trumpet seashell clark lee gtmo cuba

At the end of each day, we laid out some of our finds for a little Shell ‘N Tell. These were Lee’s besties from one day…

lee caribbean shell collection cuba

These were Susan’s shells from one day…

shell collection guantanamo bay cuba

 Clark and I co-mingled our shells (shocking, right?) for our Shell ‘N Tell show. Ahem… Although I do have to brag about finding 4 out of the 4 CARRIER SHELLS on the tray! (Ummm, but most of the CONES are Clark’s finds)

seashells of caribbean cuba

 We also got to do a little sightseeing like going to their LIGHTHOUSE Museum but I’ll spare you from the “home- movie” type stuff…

lighthouse guantanamo bay cuba

We saw jumbo IGUANAS everywhere! They are quite different from our cute little GECKOS.

iguana guantanamo bay cuba gtmo

 Our trip to Guantanamo Bay Cuba will go down as one of our best weekends EVAH because of our hosts Lee and Susan. And BTW, do they look a little familiar?  They were in Sanibel for the  SHELLABALOO 2 in May! We can’t thank you enough Lee and Susan for such an amazing time in your neck of the woods.

susan lee guantanamo bay cuba june 2013

I’m sure you have questions about the history of GUANTANAMO BAY and the U.S. Military Base so you can read this Wikipedia entry – CLICK HEREIt’s fascinating!

scenic water rock view guantanamo bay cuba

I will have some close-ups and details of some of our shells coming up in another post soon. But wait… I have one more photo for today. CYBERSHELLING – GTMO Style! Click on the image to enlarge to find SEAGLASS and minis…Because it don’t GIT-MO better than this! LOL

cyber shelling guantanamo cuba

Read PART 2 – It Doesn’t GIT-Mo Better Than This (VIDEO) … CLICK HERE 

Read More

Best Seashells From Our Vacation to Turks and Caicos

Posted by on Jan 30, 2013 in Bleeding Tooth Nerite, Colorful Moon operculum, Gaudy Asaphis, Hawkwing Conch, Long-Spined Star-Shell, Milk Conch, Nerite, Operculum, Reticulated Cowrie-Helmet, Shiva Shells, Speckled Tellin, Sunrise Tellin, Tun shell, Turks and Caicos Trip | 73 comments

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

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest