Beach combing Bowmans Beach Sanibel

The sunset at Bowman’s Beach last night was picture perfect… but then so were the shells.

Bowman Beach filled with sea shells

I was combing through a wide string of shells a mile long when I came across half buried spots in the sand… omigosh! Rasher frasher… just a piece. But a biiiig piece of JUNONIA. It’s a big beautiful piece of spotted goodness that I will definitely keep for the Shellaboratory.

Almost! Junonia shell large fragment on Sanibel

There was nothing wrong with fabshellous ZIGZAG FLAT SCALLOP though…

Zigzag Flat scallop Bowmans Beach Sanibel

There were all sorts of different shells washed up on the beach. Not only did I find that big honkin JUNONIA frag but I found OLIVES, FIGHTING CONCHS, colorful CALICO and ROUGH SCALLOPS, 2 other FLATS,  couple of WORMIES. The really surprising thing was that I found two ROSE PETAL TELLINS (just below that FLAT at the tip of my fingers). Cool!

Junonia fragment and seashells found at Bowmans Beach Sanibel

I was such a lovely evening hanging out with my friend Ellen (Shellen) …

Ellen at Bowmans with shells

She found some nice beauties too.

Sweet shells from Sanibel

Since the weather was gorgeous, we decided to ride bikes to the beach.

Pam Rambo biking Bowmans Beach Sanibel aqua

I’m so happy we did since we found out where the shells have been hiding!

Shell beach on Sanibel Island Florida

The last time I rode bikes to Bowmans Beach was with my buddy Diane a couple of weeks ago. (She was with me when we saw the BOBCAT on North Captiva… hmmmm she was also with me when I found my whole JUNONIA- I need to take her shelling with me more often!) I just realized I never posted this awesome video of our bike ride down one of the paths to the beach. We saw two GOPHER TORTOISES flying down the path directly at us.

gopher tortoises sanibel

I seriously don’t think they thought we had food since we saw them so far down the path already moving so fast. It took me a few minutes to get my camera out and they were still in a full gallop… then I had to get off my bike to let them pass by. It was crazy! Here’s the video… YouTube Preview Image

I might be visiting Bowman’s Beach a little more often now, don’t you think?

Sunset and seashells At Bowmans Beach Sanibel

Categories : Gopher Tortoise
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colors of cross barred venus shells

If you are looking for shells on Sanibel but you aren’t having any luck finding “the big ones”, you should revisit those common shells that are always on our beaches. There’s not a day that goes by that our beaches aren’t filled with CROSS-BARRED VENUS shells. Each one is different with their colors and patterns. They are a shell crafters dream seashell!

hundreds of cross barred venus shells

Walking the beach yesterday at Gulfside City Park, Clark and I were only finding the common shells until Clark took a blind scoop in the water scooped up alive BABYS EAR in his shelling backhoe. He laughed and handed it to me… it was shaped like a heart! So cute! Of course, I snapped a photo then placed it back into the water under the sand.

live baby ear in waves

Just a few days before, we were finding all sorts of treasures in the water at Gulfside City Park.

cluster of conchs on Sanibel

It just goes to show you that every day on Sanibel is a treasure hunt. You just never know what you will find so I always try to find something… anything…  just any reason to get out on the beach.  Then it becomes such a treat when you find a handful of shelliciousness with a dollop of cumulus clouds like this…

shell finds with cumulus clouds

Speaking of finding special treasures…  our iLoveShelling community was involved in finding a lost engagement ring on the beach! The story even ended up in our local paper The Islander

pam rambo, sharon michie with Sanibel ring finder

Sharon Michie of Cottages To Castles  suggested to her client Nancy Carr that she tell her story of her lost diamond engagement ring to the iLoveShelling community on FacebookIt worked! Barbara Anderson replied with a suggestion to call TheRingFinders and within 6 hours, her ring was found. It had been buried 14 inches under the sand and they still found it!

iLoveShelling facebook lost ring on Sanibel


Shellers rock! …. And shellers find “rocks” (heehee).  Sometimes it takes a Sanibel Social Shelling Village to find treasures. This is the photo with me, Craig Ostendorf of (with the ring) and Sharon Michie. Sharon shipped the ring to Nancy who is now back home in Canada. Happy Ending!

pam rambo, sharon michie with Craig Sanibel ring finder


PS- Since we are talking all about happy stuff…. Clark was golfing yesterday (with his buddy John) – he got a Hole In One! His first ever and it was on the Sunday of The Masters. He felt like he found a left handed JUNONIA- hahaha.

Clark Rambo hole in one celebrates with John

Categories : Cross Barred Venus
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Pam Rambo with 200 pound Sanibel Florida Lemon shark

I caught a 200 pound LEMON SHARK!

Pam Rambo reels in a 200 pound lemon shark

Oh yes I did… and I reeled her in from about 500 yards from the beach.

pam rambo catching a shark

I may have reeled it in but…. Okay, to be fair… my friend Elliot Sudal- aka – “The Shark Wrestler” did everything else.

Elliot Sudal and Pam Rambo catch Lemon shark Sanibel Island Florida

Now don’t think because Elliot’s been named “The Shark Wrestler” and “The Shark Wrangler” by national press like National Geographic, CNN, Fox News and ABC News that catching this beast is “mean” or dangerous for the SHARK. He’s a SHARK conservationist.

Elliot is part of a research team that tags SHARKS for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 1962, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Cooperative Shark Tagging Program (CSTP) has been a tagging study for shark and ray species in the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean to better understand their movement patterns, abundance, when/where they use coastal habitats, what distances they migrate and where they migrate to. Once he catches a SHARK, he tags, measures and records valuable information for NOAA’s scientific research then releases the SHARK back into the water all within just a few minutes.

shark tagging kit

Tagging SHARKS is an excellent way to study their habits to help ensure balance in the ocean’s ecosystem… so why not have fun doing it! Check out this Fox Connecticut video interview with Elliot having fun catching and tagging SHARKS … CLICK HERE

So what’s this got to do with shelling? Well, he might look a little familiar since he is one of the captains on our Captiva Cruises shelling trips to Cayo Costa- remember the Shellphone guy (CLICK HERE)? Yes, he’s a sheller too and laughs every time he finds a nice shell like the BANDED TULIP in his cast net.

Elliot Sudal finds seashell in cast net

Clark and I were shelling at Blind Pass Sanibel one evening and ran into Elliot setting up his reels for a night of SHARK fishing. Before I even got to reel in that awesome LEMON SHARK, Elliot had already done a lot of work to get the bait in place.

Sanibel sunset cast net Elliot Sudal

He wrangles bait fish like this SHEEPSHEAD by cast net.

Elliot Sudal catching bait for sharks on Sanibel Island

He also throws a few smaller rods out to catch fish like this LADYFISH to put on a circle hook (the preferred hook for marine conservation) with gobs of heavy duty line…

Elliot Sudal baits circle hook to kayak for shark catching

Then he paddled his kayak out to the deeper water around 500 yards out while friend CJ Floyd watches the line.

CJ watches shark baiting by kayak CJ watches shark baiting by kayak

So don’t worry! This line with the bait is nowhere near where we are shelling in the water. He paddles it waaaay out.

Elliot Sudal paddles into the Sanibel sunset with shark bait

I’ve gotta tell ya, this is one of the most amazing things Ive ever experienced. Finding a JUNONIA is truly a spectacsheller moment but feeling the exhilaration of Mother Nature’s most incredible creatures tugging on the other end of this fishing pole was FINtastic! I caught a SPINNER SHARK too but that one got away. Just after Clark snapped this photo, that fella shook the hook.

Pam Rambo fishing for sharks on Sanibel Island

But that’s ok because the next bite was my 7 foot LEMON SHARK. Can you believe it? And yes, in person you can see that there is a yellow tinge to her… hence the name “Lemon”. (Thats for you, Rachel… heehee xo)

Pam Rambo catches a lemon shark she named Jawnonia

Elliot tagged her…

Elliot Sudal Shark wrestler tagging lemon shark with Pam Rambo

Along with CJ, they measured and recorded her…

Recording Measurement for Tag and release sanibel shark

Then Elliot safely released her back into the water.

Elliot Sudal Shark Wrangler releasing lemon shark Sanibel

I got to fill out all of the valuable information to send off to NOAA … and I got to name her!  Her new name?

Shark tagging details on Jawnonia the Sanibel Lemon Shark

Introducing….. Jawnonia!

Hahaha … and of course I had to see what she would look like with some JUNONIA spots on her- LOL

Jawnonia The Junonia Lemon Shark by Pam Rambo

Okay y’all…  I don’t want you to freak out about SHARKS being in the areas where we are looking for shells. First of all, most SHARKS Elliot catches are at dusk or later at night so most of us aren’t shelling off shore at those times. Secondly, the odds of you getting eaten by a SHARK are slim to none (and “Slim” just left town- as Clark would say). SHARKS are very smart creatures and humans aren’t what SHARKS want for dinner.

SHARKS have gotten such a bad reputation since the movie Jaws so I know that some people have a deep fear and/or concern for SHARKS so let me answer some of the questions you may have.

Yes- SHARKS live in the waters of Southwest Florida. We love to see all types of Sealife in the Gulf Of Mexico and we shouldn’t feel like it’s taboo to talk about SHARKS being there too. They are an important part of our healthy environment that we need to respect and protect.

Yes- It is safe to swim in the Gulf Of Mexico. Honestly, I was a little afraid to write this post because I didn’t want people afraid of the water. If you know the truth about SHARKS then you will respect them more without being afraid of the “unknowing”. Knowledge is power. So if you look at the statistics of only 9 SHARK fatalities in Florida from 1959-2010, hopefully you will still respect SHARKS but will understand the safe odds you have with SHARKS when you go for a dip in the water in Florida. As George Burgess, curator of the world shark attack data housed at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History says “beachgoers are far more likely to win the lottery than to (unintentionally) encounter a shark”. For more statistics – check out Florida Museum Of Natural History

And here are a few fun facts about SHARKS to sink your teeth into…

  • Sharks have cruised the ocean for 400 million years.
  • Sharks were on the planet 100 millions years before dinosaurs.
  • Lemon sharks can lose a whole set of teeth, one by one, every 10 days.
  • Lemon sharks like Jawnonia can give birth up to 17 pups in one litter.
  • There are more than 450 species of sharks throughout the ocean

purple shark fishing reel with orange sunset

So now if you are on the beach looking for shells and you come across fishermen with kayaks and lots of poles, you can feel better about ducking around their fishing lines if they are out there tagging sharks for research conservation. Especially if you run in to Elliot- because he knows better than plopping his gear down right in the middle of the only big shell pile in miles (oh yes, I’ve seen that happen more than once with other fishermen- grrrrr). We all have our reasons we want to spend time on the beach so it’s fun for all of us to learn something new about the other creatures in the sea.

sanibel kayaker celebrating sunset

Thank you Elliot for teaching me so much about SHARKS and for letting me be part of such an amazing experience!  You can follow Elliot @acksharks on Instagram or ElliotSudal on Facebook to see what SHARK adventures he is up to as he “Shark Wrestles” each winter on Sanibel and summers on Nantucket. And a special thanks to Rachel Fields for being so much fun and hanging out with us and taking photos of “my catch”. I’m usually the one behind the camera so thank you so much for sending those great photos to me!

sanibel shellers rachel elliot and pam

OH WAIT! And…. Elliot is going to be on Nat Geo! He is starring in an upcoming television episode of a new reality show called The Raft airing every Sunday at 10pm eastern time (9pm central) from April 5 to May 3, 2015. I’m not sure of the date his episode will air (they haven’t even told him yet- what???) but I will let you know when I know. So exciting!