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

What Do Sanibel And Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Have In Common?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 in Cuba Seashells, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Lined Sea Star, Millipede Starfish, Starfish | 19 comments

Sanibel millipede nine arm sea star

Great Beach combing! We had such a fun weekend on Sanibel with Lee and Susan finding perfectly dried MILLIPEDE SEA STARS (aka NINE-ARMED SEA STARS) at Gulfside City Park beach…

lee and susan with Sanibel sea stars

There are still so many STARFISH, FIGHTING CONCHS and other bling on the beach left over from the storms I showed you from my video last week (CLICK HERE). Now there are STARFISH in the high wrack lines that are dried out and shells without any critters in them. It was like the perfect storm with variable conditions to make all this happen… it is mating season for FIGHTING CONCHS and HORSE CONCHS (so they were already out in masses in the shallow waters), we had days (actually weeks) of unseasonably high winds, high rough water (which washed all of those shells up high on the beach), crazy cold unseasonable temperatures (live creatures feel lethargic), then the receding gulf water after the storms calmed,  then coupled with extreme low tides… this is how many of these shells were stranded high on the beach.

Masses of shells stranded on Sanibel beach

Looking through some of them, we all found abshellutley gorgeous empty fighting conchs with bright purple apertures. They are a-mazing and seriously, they have this color opening!!!

purple color fighting conchs Sanibel

We also ran over to Blind Pass Captiva and found a few goodies like some “Candy”…

candy corn shell

Oooooh, and look at Clark’s nice sized candy.

clark rambo shell find

Tom and Janet from NY (too shy for pics ;)) cleaned up with a bucket full of beauties on the new sand bar on the pass side of the jetty rocks.

seashells found on Captiva Island

If you remember, we visited Lee and Susan a couple of time when they lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and found some amazing shells. Over the weekend, Lee was asked to be a speaker to share his shell collecting experiences in that part of Cuba at the 2016 Florida United Malacologists meeting at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum while they were here visiting. He did such a great job!

FUM Lee Merrill exhibit

Since Guantanamo Bay isn’t a place that most people get to visit, he described their shelling days of “life on the rock” with a fabulous slide presentation and brought examples of the shells they found in GTMO. He made it fun for us to go to our first “FUM” meeting.

Lee Merrill Malacology meeting

Thank you Colin, Rodger and Dr Leal (pictured with us) for organizing the event and for encouraging us to come.

Sanibel Rambo, Merrill, Jose Leal meeting-1

So after seeing Lee’s presentation and reminiscing about our visits to GTMO, I had to look at my blog posts again to take a trip down memory lane. It’s still so unbelievable we got to go there (thanks again Lee and Susan) you’ve got to check out our trips again too – just CLICK HERE .  I really laughed out loud looking at one of my videos from the trip- I kept calling them “rocks” haha … it was actually a beach full of CORAL chunks but I guess I was so overwhelmed it all just felt like I was picking through a huge pile of rocks.  Do you think I was a little excited???

Pam-rambo-sanibel-shell-trips

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Mind Blowing Beach Bling in Guantanamo Bay

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Caribbean Shells, Club Spined Sea Urchin, Cuba Seashells, Green Sea Urchin, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Long-Spined Urchin, Sea Bean, Sea Fan, sea glass, Urchin, Variegated Sea Urchin, West Indian Sea Egg, World shelling | 20 comments

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

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Treasures Found in Guantanamo Bay Cuba

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Caribbean Shells, Cuba Seashells, Guantanamo Bay Cuba | 36 comments

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

 

 

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Cuban Caribbean Shell Identification

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Angular Triton Shell, Antilles Murex, Atlantic Hairy Triton Shell, Cardinal Cone Shell, Chestnut Latirus, Corrugated (Gaudy) Frog Shell, Crown Cone Shell, Cuba Seashells, Cuban Frog Shell (or Granular Frog), Doghead Triton Shell, Gold-Mouth Triton Shell, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Knobbed Triton Shell, Mouse Cone, Rehderi Triton Shell, Shelly Dwarf Triton Shell, West Indian Murex | 29 comments

queen conch caribbean shell cuba

After returning home from a shell collecting trip, there are tasks of unpacking, cleaning and sorting to begin some sort of process for organization. I’ve written a few posts on our trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (read them by CLICKING HERE) but there were so many shells I could not identify like this GOLD-MOUTH TRITON.

gold mouth triton cymatium nicobaricum

 Clark and I are familiar with Southwest Florida shells, but the different species of shells from Cuba? Not so much. So to find the identity of some of these Caribbean shells we found in Guantanamo Bay … I’ve had my nose stuck in oodles of books, surfed through gobs of websites and also very thankful for the exshellent help from MurexKen (Thank you!). Here are some of the books I used for research…

seashell shell books research

If you have ever collected shells from the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Virgin Islands or any where else in the Caribbean, these identifications along with our other shelling trip posts might help you identify your shells too.  I was so excited when we got back, I made a mistake by calling this a CUBAN FROG SHELL (CLICK HERE to see the photo I’m referring to). It’s NOT! It’s a CORRUGATED (or GAUDY) FROG SHELL.

corrugated frog shell bursa currugata cuba gtmo

After feeling a little embarrassed about the wrong ID, I got over it pretty quickly since they look so similar. Live, Shell and Learn.  That’s half the fun of going to a new destination to find shells….we get to see and learn about other shells from around the world! So now you can see why I got these guys mixed up. Here’s the CUBAN FROG SHELLS (or also called GRANULAR FROG SHELLS) …

cuban frog shell cuba gtmo bursa cubaniana

We also found KNOBBED TRITONS

knobbed triton Cymatium (Gutturnium) muricinum cuba

These REHDERI TRITONS look similar to the KNOBBED but have that darker brown color on the inner lip. Beautiful!

cymatium rehderi rehder's triton cuba

See how similar some of these shells are? This next one is the DOG HEAD TRITON.

FYI- I changed this photo on August 9, 2013 since the original shell photograph was not a DOG HEAD TRITON. Lee from GTMO graciously took this photo of DOG HEAD TRITONS so I could show what they look like (since I mentioned them already). The funny thing is, we have soooo many fab shells from GTMO that I could have posted about and I chose one shell… that I misidentified …. and then didn’t have the real thing to show you? geez Whaddupwidat? LOL Thanks Lee for the photo!

dog head triton Cymatium (Ranularia) cynocephalum

I showed you the incredibly hairy ATLANTIC HAIRY TRITON that Lee found (if you missed it CLICK HERE) but we were thrilled to even find some “hairless” HAIRY TRITONS. Here’s the bald version…

Atlantic Hairy Triton Cymatium (Monoplex) pileare cuba gtmo

Can you believe all the different TRITONS? This one is the SHELLY DWARF TRITON.

shelly dwarf triton Colubraria testacea

One more TRITON for the day… the ANGULAR TRITON. The orange one with the white tips is spectashellar!

Cymatium (Cymatium) femorale angular triton cuba

We found more CONES too! It’s astounding to me how many different CONE species there are throughout the world … especially throughout the Caribbean. Since there are so many varieties of CONES, I’m almost positive this one is the CARDINAL CONE

Purpuriconus Conus cardinalis cardinal cone cuba

The MOUSE CONE is a little smaller, squatter and looks a bit more faded than the CARDINAL but we had so much fun finding them because they were everywhere.

mouse cone Gladioconus mus cuba gtmo

We found CROWN CONES in 7 different colors from banana to dark chocolate which seemed pretty common too.

crown cone conus regius

Some of the MUREXES are so different from ours here in Sanibel as well. We found Antilles Murexes in a few spots but most had broken tails. They are still beautiful!

Antilles Murex Siratus articulatus

The WEST INDIAN MUREX shells we found remind me so much of our LACE MUREX, right?

Chicoreus Triplex brevifrons west indian murex short frond

I don’t know what they feed the APPLE MUREX shells down there but they are giganshellous! Really, this is an APPLE MUREX next to a quarter. Did a cargo ship of Miracle Grow spill over down there? Ha!

apple murex cuba

This is next shell was listed as a DOG WINKLE in one of my books but it looks nothing like a DOG WINKLE in any of the others…  maybe it’s a CHESTNUT LATIRUS? This was such a plain shell next to the other TRITONS, MUREXES and others but we saw hundreds of them so I hope that yall can help with me with it. The best I found was LEUCOZONIA LEUCOZONALIS (no common name?) but when “NASSA” came up in search results, those shells look so knobby compared to these. Yes, they are beach worn just like all of our other shells but I doubt they all got this smooth at the same time.

So… what do YOU think? UPDATE: Consensus says they are CHESTNUT LATIRUS- LEUCOZONIA LEUCOZONALIS

leucozonia leucozonalis nassa chestnut latirus

There are still dozens of shells I haven’t identified and maybe one day I’ll get back to identifying all of them but for now, I’ll enjoy looking at them displayed in my living room but I’m ready to get back to my favorite beaches… Sanibel and Southwest Florida beaches! I hope you enjoyed the shells and posts from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba thanks again to Lee and Susan for such a great shell adventure!

seashell display from cuba

 PS- We have new dates for our iLoveShelling Cruises to shell together on the secluded island of Cayo Costa! Come join us! CLICK HERE for more info.

seashell shelling adventures events pam

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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

 

 

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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 

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