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

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Sanibel Sunrise to Sunset

Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Bowman's Beach, Brittle Star, Lighthouse, Sanibel Shell Festival 2014 | 31 comments

seashells and sunflowers at the beach

Sunrise on Sanibel is such a beautiful sight at Lighthouse Beach, I always tell myself I need to get out there in the morning more often.

sanibel lighthouse at dawn

As I was shelling at the waters edge, I met a family enjoying the cool morning while collecting shells along the same path. Rick, Cindy, Sarah, Harley (she’s peek-a-boo-ing between her mom and dad’s legs- heehee) and Richard from Virginia were tickled with their finds.

rick cindy sarah richard harley virginia visits sanibel florida

Cindy found a beautiful PAPER FIG and ANGEL WING while Rick was finding juvie WHELKS, CONCHS and pieces of shells with cool BARNCLES attached…

seashells collected on the beach

Cindy found this awesome BRITTLE STAR on the beach which we thought was too dry to still be alive but while we inspected him and all ooohed and aaahed, the little guy started waving one of his arms to tell us he still had some life in him. Omigosh! He needed water! Cindy hurried to get this guy back to the Gulf Of Mexico.

brittle star on gray

Sarah found her first WENTLETRAP!

finding sea shells

I should have known I would see award winning SAILORS VALENTINE artist Constance Miller shelling at the lighthouse because the Sanibel Shell Festival this week. She loves to find her own WENTLETRAPS and other mini shells to use in her gorgeous designs.

constance marshall miller shelling sanibel lighthouse

Clark and I walked just south of Bowman’s Beach to catch sunset and saw the perfect Sanibel Stooper shelling the sand bar just as the sun reached the horizon. So beautiful!

sanibel stoop bowman's beach florida sunset

Just after I snapped the photo, that Sanibel Stooper walked back towards the beach so I approached him to tell him I got a fun photo of him at sunset. Holy Cowrie! It was Rick again! LOL Yes, that was the same Rick that I had just met in the morning shelling at Lighthouse Beach. He and his son Richard (Marley’s dad) were still shelling but this time near Bowman’s too. It’s a small island, huh?

rick richard collect sea shells bowman beach sanibel

These are just a few goodies they pulled out of their shell bag. Lots of treasure!

collecting seashells on sanbel island bowman's beach

If you are near Sanibel Island this week Thursday- Saturday (March 6,7,8 2014) you shouldn’t miss the 77th Sanibel Shell Festival. It will be lots of fun AND…. I am entering into the show for the very first time. I have two pieces that will be judged in the artistic division so I will definitely show you pictures later in the week after they have been judged. Yes, judged… Ack! Pressure! Please wish me good luck! And of course I will be blogging about all of the other exhibits as well. I hope to see you there!

sanibel shell festival 2014

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I Found A Half Naked Shell

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Half Naked Pen Shell, Saw-Tooth Pen Shell, Stiff Pen Shell | 32 comments

half naked pen shell atrina seminuda

No, you silly goose, this shell doesn’t have a bikini on… it’s really called a HALF-NAKED PEN SHELL! I found this rare PEN SHELL (Atrina seminuda) at Gulfside City Park on Sanibel Island, Florida a few weeks ago just after high west winds so there were thousands of shells that washed up on the beach. Talk about being silly… remember my crazy post “On The Beach With Shell Eggs And Ham, Pam-I-Am“? Well that’s when I found this very rare PEN SHELL. When I say “very rare” I mean it’s very rare for Southwest Florida. 

half-naked pen shell found on sanibel southwest florida

Okay wait….before you get bored with hearing about the not-so-attractive PEN SHELL, this is actually pretty dang cool, so go get some caffeine and stay with me, alright? And really, haven’t you seen tons of these shells if you’ve visited the west coast of Florida?

Last year when Shelling Sistah Susan H was here, she asked me if I had ever run into a third type of PEN SHELL  (the HALF NAKED) and told me to look at a picture of it online CLICK HERE. I studied the differences between this one and the STIFF PEN SHELL and the SAW TOOTH PEN SHELL. Okay, I’ve got it in my brain… if it’s here, I’m gonna find it. I searched for an entire year to find this stinkin thing! But I found it! I think I was just as excited when I found my JUNONIA… not.

I don’t think you will ever be collecting oodles of PEN SHELLS, (I’m not sure I know anybody who actually “collects” them) but it was sure exciting to me to finally find the darn thing. The only way to really tell it apart from the other PENS is to look at the inside muscle scar of the MOLLUSK… in other words- where the meat attached to the shell.

interior atrina pen shells southwest florida gulf

There is a slight variance on the outside of each of these shells. From left to right… STIFF PEN SHELL, HALF-NAKED PEN SHELL and SAW TOOTH PEN SHELL. I’m not really sure if you’ll be able to see the difference from this photo, but look very closely at the right side of each of the shells. That’s the hinge.. and it is very straight on the first and third shell but slightly curved on the middle one. So now that you know that the HALF-NAKED has a curved hinge, go back to the last photo with all 3 shells and see the big gap in-between the valves of the middle shell. That’s why I even picked up the shell in the first place, I saw that slight curved hinge and immediately thought to myself… OMG maybe that’s it!

atrina pen shell differences

Maybe this is a better view of the curve in the hinge… on the left is the HALF-NAKED and on the right is the STIFF PEN SHELL. Can you see it now?

the difference in pen shells

This is the real giveaway on the difference between these shells. The middle one is the HALF-NAKED (isn’t that just the funniest name? I get so tickled every time I say it!). Can you see more lines and shapes on the HALF NAKED right in the middle of the shell?

interior valve atrina pen shells seminuda difference

The next photo is a close-up of that shell and it almost looks like a face, right? Do you see the “eyes”? Okay, that is the muscle scar. Right above the “eyes” is a wide milky space before it changes complete color (like a hair line). The whole milky or pearly area is called the nacreous. The HALF-NAKED is the only one of our PENS that the muscle scar leaves such a prominent space below the nacreous border.

atrina seminuda muscle scar and nacreous

This next one is the STIFF PEN SHELL… the most common PEN SHELL on our beaches and it looks almost identical to the HALF- NAKED. I’m sure you’ve all seen this one if you’ve walked on the beaches in Sanibel or Captiva and you’ve probably cussed at it after you stepped on it, right? Ouch!

stiff pen shell atria rigida

Here’s the interior of the STIFF PEN. It’s hard to see the muscle scar on this one but there is definitely no obvious space between the top of the muscle scar and the border of the pearly part.

stiff pen shell atria rigida nacreous

This next one is the SAWTOOTH PEN SHELL. This one is easy to tell the difference from the others since it is much lighter in color and it has much smaller spines that don’t stick out (to cut your foot). I didn’t do a close up of the interior nacreous area because it didn’t really show up well… and …. wait! wake up! I’m just getting to the good part so gulp more caffeine, would ya? LOL

saw tooth pen shell atria serrata

This is how I found my first HALF-NAKED PEN laying on the beach at Gulfside City Park.

half naked pen shell at gulfisde city park

I took the shell to Dr. Jose Leal at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum to get a positive ID from him. He positively identified it for me as the Atrina seminuda (HALF NAKED) and then told me that they did not have one of these shells at the museum. Since it was my first one I’ve ever found, I told him he could borrow it to photograph it.  I know, I know, it sounds stingy that I didn’t donate it to him but geeeeez, remember…. Ive been looking for this guy for a year!

The first one I took to him to get a positive ID wasn’t so pretty and it cracked a little when I opened it up to look at the muscle scar…

sanibel atria seminuda pen shell

So I went hunting again and low and behold… I found two more after looking at thousands of them all along Sanibel. Gulfside City Park was the winner again. I found a perfect one with no cracks that I’ve shown in my photos here and I donated this one to The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum…

half naked pen shell atrina seminuda

They will soon have it on their website as a Southwest Florida shell and have my shell in the photo. And yes, it’s still the only one they have so far- Dr Leal looked in the archives and couldn’t find another one. I’m so proud of that little PEN SHELL! Hahaha- Really, Who would have thought I’d ever be so happy about a PEN SHELL. heehee. And I would never have known to look for it if it hadn’t been for sweet Susan H! Thank you Susan H for asking me about it and giving me something to hunt for. I always love to find new things on the beach!

i Love Shelling

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Peaceful Retreat To The Beach

Posted by on Feb 25, 2014 in Baby's Ear, Button, Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Jingle, Lettered Olive, Olive, Shark's Eye, Wentletrap | 63 comments

tiny shells collected on Sanibel Island Florida

I have been enjoying the warm sunshine we’ve been having on Sanibel the last few days… not just on the beach but outside in my back yard. I’ve been sorting…and sorting… and sorting shells. Why haven’t I been more organized in the last few days… errrrr… months…. okay, truthfully? Years! I guess thats just how I roll- I would rather spend my time doing something else other than “cleaning” (Oh how I hate that word!) but I guess enough is enough. I told y’all I wanted to do a post about the differences between some of the mini shells like the DRILLS, MUREXES and CANTHARUS like I did in my post Similar Sanibel Shells since I wanted to add more to that list. So I started looking through my Shellaboratory for each of the shells I wanted to photograph. Ack! I wanted the best of each species but I realized how dang unorganized I’ve been. Buckets, boxes and bins of uncategorized shells. Some were washed… some filled with sand. OMG

assortment of collected small Sanibel Florida shells

 So while I sort my shells to find the best GULF OYSTER DRILL, SHARP RIB DRILL, juvie APPLE and LACE MUREXES, I had to escape to the beach for a peaceful retreat at Gulfside City Park to find an absolutely gorgeous calm day.

peaceful retreat and shells on the beach of Sanibel Island

Oh… and more mini shells. I tried to just admire the shells on the beach without picking them up because…. seriously, we have enough. These days I try to only collect the shells I learn from, the ones that I give to others (like the post – Good Feeling About Seashells), the ones I decorate with or use in projects.  So these are the only ones I brought home today… Three BUTTON SHELLS, a shiny OLIVE, one sweet BABYS EAR, a wonderful WENTLETRAP and a little cutie juvie SHARKS EYE. We don’t often see oodles of black JINGLES so I couldn’t resist picking some up … and there were lots of them! I’m trying to fill up a tall vase for my home so I might go back and try to find more tomorrow. When my vase is done, I promise I’ll post it.

some seashells collected from Sanibel

So while I sort, sort, sort our minis I’ll sneak to the beach for peace, shells and sunshine.

calm collecting shells

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