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…
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.
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!!!
We also ran over to Blind Pass Captiva and found a few goodies like some “Candy”…
Oooooh, and look at Clark’s nice sized candy.
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.
If you remember, we visited Lee and Susan a couple of time when they lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cubaand 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!
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.
Thank you Colin, Rodger and Dr Leal (pictured with us) for organizing the event and for encouraging us to come.
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???
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.
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!
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?
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)
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.
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!
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.
Here’s the interior of one…
Lee found the mac daddy of the THORNY OYSTERS- it’s huge and with some good spines…. Both sides!
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!
I always think these are so funny…. the BLEEDING TOOTH. Shall I say more?
These are some of my favorite minis we found this trip… BEADED MITERS.
Clark was excited (and me too) to find this HEXAGONAL MUREX since we’ve never found one before.
It’s always a thrill to find a new shell!
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.
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!
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…
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.
How did we get to go there you ask? Because of this handsome, super fun couple.. our friends Lee and Susan.
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?!
We feel so very fortunate to have been able to be there but much less shell so many beaches in such a short time.
We collected sooooo many amazing treasures!
It was a whirlwind shelling adventure as we combed the beaches through rock and CORAL…
To find sweet mini shells…
We climbed up and down stairs on the cliffs…
… to find SEA GLASS and more shells.
We snorkeled the bay …
… to see fish and find more awesome shells.
We went boating…
… to find SEA HEARTS, BEACH BLING and absolutely more shells.
… to find more treasure and Voila! even more shells.
We combed through scrub brush…
…to find old Cuban bottles and yup, more shells.
Even when we had to take refuge in the shade for a few minutes…
We found a cool breeze, a place to refuel and of course, more shells.
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!
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.
You can read the article too! Just CLICK HERE or click on the article. Cool!
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!
We can’t thank you enough Lee and Susan for an unbelievable adventure on this special island “The Pearl of the Antilles”!
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!
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 Caicosand 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!
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.
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…
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 postsmight 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.
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) …
These REHDERI TRITONSlook similar to the KNOBBED but have that darker brown color on the inner lip. Beautiful!
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!
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…
One more TRITON for the day… the ANGULAR TRITON. The orange one with the white tips is spectashellar!
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…
The MOUSE CONEis 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.
We found CROWN CONESin 7 different colors from banana to dark chocolate which seemed pretty common too.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…
I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found my first ever RETICULATED COWRIE-HELMET…
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
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.
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!
Our fabulous hostess Susan was the first to find a perfect TRITON’S TRUMPET…
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!
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)
Right after Clark found his TRITON, I found another first… a FLAME HELMET.
I still can’t believe what a beautiful site it was to see Clark’s shell bag…
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.
We even found a entire dried CHITON with all of its segments intact attached to a small rock…
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.
We collected handfuls of turquoise blue, green and cobalt blue SEA GLASS at a beach appropriately named Glass Beach.
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‘.”
Just like any day of shelling on most beaches, we had to work for our treasures. We had to do some rock climbing…
We sloshed around through MANGROVE roots (where Clark found this awesome red FLAT ZIGZAG SCALLOP)…
We snorkeled for a few gems…
And we walked…. and walked…. and walked over rocks, sand and through surf to find our gifts from the sea…
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…
These were Susan’s shells from one day…
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)
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…
We saw jumbo IGUANAS everywhere! They are quite different from our cute little GECKOS.
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.
I’m sure you have questions about the history of GUANTANAMO BAYandthe U.S. Military Base so you can read this Wikipedia entry – CLICK HERE. It’s fascinating!
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