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

My Latest Stories from the beach

Sanibel Sand Dollars Days

Posted by on Nov 14, 2015 in Gulf Side City Beach (Algier's), Sand Dollar, Sanibel, Sea Life, Sunsets | 24 comments

clean sand dollars on drying rack

There are days on Sanibel when hundreds of COCKLE shells… or DOSINIA shells… or PEN SHELLS wash up on the beach. Well, this past week (and lots of random weeks this year) there were hundreds- if not thousands- of SAND DOLLARS washing up on the beach.

sand dollar beach cairn stack

Lots of them were still living (!) but some were perfectly bare of cilia and spines which means they can no longer be alive.

Sanibel seashells and sand dollars

If you have any doubts whether a SAND DOLLAR is alive or dead, please leave it where you found it. But if you want to learn how to tell the difference, please CLICK HERE for my post How To Identify Differences Between Live And Dead Sand Dollars.

Collecting sand dollars on Sanibel Island

Local sheller Karen knows the ones she can keep and was as dumbfounded as I was to find gazillions of them scattered all over the beach.

Karen with sand dollars found sanibel

So many in perfect condition.

finding sand dollars on the beach

If you look closely at this next photo, you’ll see those dark spots throughout the sand- most of those were still the live ones dotting the beach at Gulfside City Beach on Sanibel Island.

sunset sanibel stoop sand dollars

It always feels like such a special day to just see one, so I was feeling like I won the SAND DOLLAR lottery.

sand dollars at sunset

We have a nice collection of SAND DOLLARS already so I don’t normally pick them up any more… but… I had a few events planned this week to visit with friends so Clark and I gathered a few up to give as gifts. We placed them overnight in a bleach solution then rinsed them off in the morning. CLICK HERE for a more detailed tutorial for cleaning SAND DOLLARS.

cleaning sand dollars

We then placed them in the sun all day to dry out. They made for wonderful party favors for my friends that evening. Gifts from the sea.

clean bleached sand dollars on drying rack

We just had some strong NE winds move in this morning so all of these sweet beach bucks might get covered back up with the wave action. We always have to remember not to take anything for granted- they’re here one day and maybe gone the next. It happens that fast!

I’m working on new dates for our iLoveShelling cruises. I hope to have dates very soon so I can see y’all when you come to SW Florida to visit! I have through January… so CLICK HERE to join us!


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Here Comes The Sanibel Sun

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in Sea Life, sunrise, Sunsets | 13 comments

sunset shell wash from receding tide-1

A few more beautiful sunrises and sunsets have happened since I took this photo last week. I almost forgot about showing you these amazing treasures and moments because time seems to be passing with the speed of light. I didn’t find the shell of a lifetime so it didn’t seem as important to post. But that’s not what its all about, is it? It’s not just finding the biggest and best shell pile in the world. It’s finding something that makes you happy and content while you are on the hunt for that once in a lifetime seashell. The amazing thing about beach combing is that every day and every hour there’s something beautiful to see or washes up at your toes.

collecting small shells-1

Life is colorful. No two people will see beauty the same way.

small shells and fishing bling-1

Enjoy each moment on the beach. You might not find a more special place on earth.

sand dollar shells-1

There will be days you will never forget.

sand dollar-1

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Golden Day On Cayo Costa

Posted by on Nov 8, 2015 in Blue Heron, Captiva, Captiva Cruises, Cayo Costa, Florida Wildlife, Golden Olive, Melampus, Olive, White Melampus | 7 comments

Golden Olive live mollusk Oliva sayana

We had a golden opportunity to watch a healthy, live GOLDEN OLIVE that Sara found in the water on our iLoveShelling adventure boating to Cayo Costa with Captiva Cruises on Friday. It’s always so thrilling to see a GOLDEN OLIVE (which is the not-so-common yellow color form of the LETTERED OLIVE) much less, be able to the live creature come out to say hi. Of course Sara placed it back in the water where she found it after I quickly snapped a few photos. So cool- good eye Sara!

Sara indiana with golden olive

The Shellucky Bucket of shells really works! On each of my shelling trips, I have a bucket of shells that pass around so everybody can pick a lucky shell to put in their pocket to give them a little bit more luck on our day together. Most shellers are already lucky but I feel like Clark and I are lucky enough so we want to share our luck by putting our shells we collect in the Shellucky Bucket so shellers like Barbara (CA), Judy and Bill (Fort Myers) to tune into even more Rambo shellapathic senses. haha

barbara cali, judy, bill ft myers shells

Every single time I step on the beach at Cayo Costa, there’s a special feeling I get. I think it’s called… peaceful and easy.

Boating to islands for shells

And it’s exciting! Sharon, Gina, Sue and Barb from Kansas City, MO all found SAND DOLLARS.

Sharon, Gina, Sue, Barb Kansas City with sand dollars on Cayo Costa Florida

So did local sheller Dale from Ft Myers.
Dale Ft Myers with sand dollars on Cayo costa

Dave and Becky (Kansas) found SAND DOLLARS too along with some other nice finds too.

Dave Becky Kansas Sand Dollars from Cayo Costa

Kelli (MN) was searching in the high tide wrack line for the mini shells.

Kelli MN at cayo costa

She found a few shells that I haven’t found in a while… a MORTON’S EGG COCKLE (golden!) and a SPECKLED TELLIN. She was also happy to find her first BABYS EAR.

speckled tellin, babys ear, mortons egg cockle

Shells on the beach Cayo Costa Florida

Susie and Chris from Oregon found sweet little COMB BITTERSWEETS in this same shell line pictured above.

Susie Chris Oregon comb bittersweets

I love how each of the COMB BITTERSWEETS have their own unique patterns and golden colors on them.

comb bittersweets

This was a special girls trip for Irma and Joyce who were visiting SW Florida from Canada. Joyce knew every single shell name so it was so much fun to see what they were finding.

Irma, Joyce Canada visit sanibel for shells

Bivalves! Be still my heart. They were thrilled to have found quite a few Purplish Tagelus and to realize how many different colors of JINGLES and COQUINAS are found on Cayo Costa.

bivalve mollusk purplish tagalus jingles coquina

Jackie and Ritchie visiting from Flagler Beach found a few faves… COCKLES and CONCHS.

jackie ritchie flagler beach shells on cayo costa

It’s always so much fun to hang out with so many fabshellous beach combers together in one place to really see how we all find so much joy on the beach. 

collection of seashells and beach bling

I looooove to see all of the different treasures and identify the ones that are firsts time finds for folks. The largest white shell is a BABYS EAR, the brown shell to the left of it is a COFFEE MELAMPUS and the small white shell is a WHITE MELAPUS.
babys ear coffee white melampus


Teresa from North Carolina found all sorts of gifts from the sea and is also showing off her other gifts too- a new bumper sticker and $25 gift certificate from Sealife By Congress .

Teresa NC with shells and gifts from the sea

On every iLoveShelling shelling trips, each passenger receives that $25 gift certificate from Congress Jewelers on Sanibel (and the iLoveShelling bumper sticker- heehee). Oh happy days!

Sealife By Congress Jewelers

It was so much fun to see friends Cliff and Tina on our trip too with their family Scott and Tracy. It was such a beautiful day and seeing y’all made it that much better!

Cliff Tina Scott Tracy

You can join us on one of our iLoveShelling adventures too! For dates and info CLICK HERE


Blue Heron on Cayo Costa


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