Jul
21

Gone Shellebrating

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seashells guantanamo bay cuba chapman beach

Gone Shellebrating… in the Caribbean! Oh yaya baby, we took a quick weekend shelling trip to one of Super Sheller Clark’s favorite shelling holes to celebrate his birthday!

happyb-day

Happy Birthday Clark!

Clark's bday photo by Susan

More photos to come but until then, can you guess where we went?

caribbean with piles of coral rocks

happy birthday super sheller clark

Thank you Susan Merrill for the spectacsheller photo of Clark’s “birthday cake”- He loved it!

Categories : Shelling birthday
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Stiff Pen Shell with Blister pearl

While talking to Gary on our iLoveShelling shelling cruise last week, he told me about four huge HORSE CONCHS and other great shells he and his family Cameron, Mary and Lauren found on Sanibel during their visit from Nashville. Amazing!

Cameron, Mary, Lauren and Gary with large shells found in Sanibel

He also asked me if PEN SHELLS could make PEARLS and I immediately answered “It’s rare to find the PEARLS washed up on the beach but… Yes they can!”. He found something that looked like a PEARL inside a PEN SHELL while looking for other shells like TRUE TULIPS which can hide or get trapped inside them (CLICK HERE for a video to show this). Of course I had to see it.

Gary and Lauren from Tennessee find a blistered Pen shell pearl

If you look closely, you can see a milky circle on the inside of his shell and at about “9 o’clock” on that circle (the MOLLUSK’s muscle scar where it was connected to the shell) you can see a little ball on the shell. That’s a PEARL.

Stiff Pen shell muscle scar with blister pearl

This type of PEARL is called a BLISTER PEARL. Cool! BLISTER PEARLS are attached to the shell so mostly likely the PEARL would break if he tried pop it out to make any jewelry from it but it’s still cool for him to have seen it…. questioned it…. and ask me about it so we can all learn more.

Blister Pearl on the shell of a Stiff Pen shell

The only reason I knew anything about PEN SHELL PEARLS was by seeing my friend Rachel Fields’ scientific display at the Sanibel Shell Festival this year…about Natural Pearls and being fascinated by her blue ribbon exhibit.

rachel fields natural pearls display sanibel shell festival

After sending her photos of Gary’s PEN SHELL, Rachel responded by saying…

That does look like a pearl!  It’s called a blister pearl when formation occurs and the growth is still attached to the shell”.  

Then she explained “When pearls form often times it happens because some exterior object kind of puts pressure on and crushes the shell inward causing a piece of the shell to fall off into the body of the mollusk and if it happens near the mantle the mollusk will secrete a protective coating around that piece of shell that’s broken off.  Sometimes it happens far away from the shell and more internal which causes free-formed pearls and sometimes it happens up against the side of the shell which causes the pearl to form merged to the shell (and is called a blister pearl)”.

Now you can see from Gary’s shell that his PEARL formed against the shell and it still attached…. a BLISTER PEARL. Yep, it’s just like our type of skin blisters although we make just fluid inside our blister instead of a PEARL, right? When I get a blister, I’d much rather go through the pain to get a PEARL instead of crummy fluid. LOL

Formed blister pearl in stiff pen shell

When a PEN SHELL produces a FREE-FORM PEARL, it can be a gorgeous lustrous PEARL like Rachel showed in her exhibit. The problem with finding pretty PEN PEARLS is that they crack easily after a week or two and if they do make it without cracking, it may take about 4 or 5 years for them to become pearlescent.

Pen shell Atrina rigida with Pearl

But when they don’t crack and become lustrous…. Gorgeous!

Pen shell pearl from Atrina rigida

Rachel was kind enough to share more information from her Natural Pearl presentation, so I thought it would be easier to publish a page dedicated to her research- CLICK HERE. This will probably answer all of your questions because it answered mine! Like… “What other shells make PEARLS?”.

She shows us QUAHOGS…

Mercenaria Quahog pearls

QUEEN CONCHS produce PEARLS as well- They are pink! Captain Brian let me borrow his book Pink Pearl: A Natural Treasure of the Caribbean before we went on a shelling trip to Turks and Caicos last year so I could study up and keep my eye out for them. Of course its like looking for a needle in a haystack but you bet your bottom sand dollar… I searched. After I returned Capt Brian’s book, I realized how stinkin expensive it is- wow! (so happy I didn’t damage it!) If you have an extra copy laying around that’s not expensive, let me know- Rachel should have a copy!

Strombus gigas queen conch pink pearls

This one should really get your goat… a LION’S PAW. Oh my! Just to find a LION’S PAW is special… but to find a LION’S PAW PEARL? That would send me two clouds above nine!

Nodipecten subnodosus Lions Paw Pearls

Thank you Gary, Mary, Cameron and Lauren for coming on the iLoveShelling cruise with me and asking me about your PEN SHELL PEARL and also to Rachel (NYC) for sharing so much invaluable information with all of us about Natural Pearls. This is another example about why i Love Shelling, Shellers and the Shelling Community! It’s so edshellcational!

CLICK HERE to see and learn more from Rachel’s Natural Pearls exhibit and more photos.

rachel fields natural pearl exhibit

Jul
16

Small Island, Big Shell

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lightning whelk with dark toplightning whelk with dark top

Shellzam! Brenda from Indiana found an empty, big, beautiful LIGHTNING WHELK on our iLoveShelling Sight Sea-R cruise to Big Hickory Island today. Wow!

Brenda with large lightning whelk

Cuties Rachel and Danielle helped her shellebrate while feeling happy with their finds too on this fabshellous adventure. So fun!

Rachel, Brenda, Danielle find seashells on a west coast Florida island

It was a fun and gorgeous morning pulling up to this small island sand bar at low tide.

Florida shelling boat anchored on a sand bar

Emily and Lily from Kentucky found SAND DOLLARS, shells and some cool bling…

Visiting from kentucky, emily lily find sw florida shells

some shells found in sw florida

Jessica (NY) found a nice size ALPHABET CONE, SHARKS EYES, ROSE PETAL TELLINS and lots of WORMS SHELLS and her mom Kathy found a very cool ROSEATE SPOONBILL feather in the wrack line.

Jessica and Kathy find shells and feathers on an island in Florida

Sandy handful of seashells of southwest florida

Dima and Amy (MI) found some beauties!

Dima and Amy MI find shell on west coast of Florida

shells found in Estero

Kelsea and Lori from South Carolina showed me their fave finds which included that cool BRYOZOAN COLONY, LACE MUREX, an awesome dark twisty WORM SHELL, GAUDY NATICA, WHITE CRESTED TELLIN and ROSE PETAL TELLINS.

Kelsea and Lori from SC find shells on a shelling cruise

favorite shells on a Florida west coast shelling adventure

Kim and Jon from St Louis showed me their faves too… a sweet baby ALPHABET CONE, a gorgeous FLAT SCALLOP, SUNRAY VENUS, ROSE PETAL TELLINS  and wormies.

Kim and Jon from St Louis find shells on shelling cruise

rose petal tellins , flat scallop, coffee melampus and alphabet cone

Leah, Julianna, June (MD) and Gramma Diane (NJ) found most of their shells in a little honey hole in the water. Way to go girls!

Leah, Julianna, June and Diane find seashells in southwest florida

On the way to the island, we saw ROSEATE SPOONBILLS, STINGRAYS and DOLPHINS as I chose a winner for the Sealife By Congress sterling silver sand dollar pendant giveaway. Congratshellations Mackenzie! It was such a pleasure to meet you and your mom Tammi and your sister Peyton.

Mackenzie Tammi Peyton win jewelry on shelling cruise

Everybody else on the cruise was happy too. They received a $25 certificate towards a jewelry piece of their own. Yay! Thank you Sealife By Congressthats so nice!

Jewelry certificate Sanibel

I think everybody on the cruise found ROSE PETAL TELLINS and CORAL.

rose petal tellins with coral and worm shells

And everybody found WORMIES!

worm shells button and pear whelk on sandy hand

First Mate Meg even shelled for 5 minutes and found a BEACH BLING “Sea Hero” that guarded some of her other finds. cute!

Meg's minutes of shell finds

Oh and Ingrid (from my last post) joined us as well and showed us her JUNONIA she found in front of the Island Inn on Sanibel yesterday. Boom Shellalaka!

ingrid found a junonia in sw florida

We were so lucky to have a beautiful warm sunny day to spend 4 hours hanging out and shelling together.

boating to a shelling hole in sw florida

I am so happy to announce that starting in August, Sight Sea-R Cruises has changed the hours for their regular shelling cruises EVERY Wednesday to go from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm (instead of leaving at 10am). Spectacsheller! So our iLoveShelling Sight Sea- R shelling cruises will be the same.

sight sea-r adventures aug-oct 2014