Holy Cowrie! We have had an exshellent adventure shelling the beaches of Cat Island in the out island of the 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.
We found all sorts of spectacsheller shells and BEACH BLING!
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
It was worth every bump, sticker and long trek to the northern shore on the Atlantic…
to find SEA GLASS…
NERITES, WEST INDIAN TOP SHELLS and ROCK SHELLS…
and shells like this WEST INDIAN CHANK and FLAME HELMET…
We even snorkeled to see beautiful fish and live creatures like this SEASTAR…
While finding a few “keeper” SEA BISCUITS in the calm Shanna’s Cove …
We canoed in the Fernadez Bay…
To find MILK CONCHS like this…
Every day we marveled at our loot…
And shellebrated for each other on “first finds”. This was the first time I’ve ever found WEST INDIAN CHANK SHELLS! Shellzam!
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.
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
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.
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 post? LOL
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.
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!
Like the MEASLED COWRIE in different colors and growth stages…
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.
We did find ATLANTIC YELLOW COWRIES… and they aren’t yellow! They are spotted brown. Ha!
Clark can spot those CONES. He found both of these CARROT CONES…
AND he found these rare GLORY OF THE ATLANTIC CONES…
We both found quite a few MCGINTY’S LATIRUS shells. They look like our candy!
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!
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…
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!
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.
These sweet little COMMON DOVE SHELLS are less than an inch but soooo beautiful. We found tons of mini shells too!
…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?
Most of the DELTOID ROCK SHELLS were very worn (as most rock shells look to me) but these were the nicest we found…
FLAMINGO TONGUES! I like the shell but I think I like the name even better.
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!)
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!
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!
Again, THANK YOU Susan and Lee for such an amazing friendship to make this possible for us to share this exshellent adventure!
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
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