If the SANIBEL SIX seashells are the favorite achievable shell finds for shellers on Sanibel and Captiva, then the JUNONIA, SCOTCH BONNET and LION’S PAW seashells must be The Elite Three. These shells are the mac daddies of local finds….for us, anyway. Pictured above is Clark’s JUNONIA (found in 2004), my SCOTCH BONNET (January) and Clark’s LION’S PAW ((2006) found on North Captiva. I found a LION’S PAW too but Clark must have hidden it (so competitive! LOL) since I can’t find it….. but it did have a little damage.
That’s why my jaw dropped when I heard that 5 year old Alyssa found both a JUNONIA and a SCOTCH BONNET within the last few months. She and her dad are avid shellers who head to Blind Pass or the lighthouse from Ft Myers every other weekend to hunt for seashell treasure. Congratulations, Alyssa!
Okay, take a look at this photo Donnie (Alyssa’s dad) took last month. You can see they found the SANIBEL SIX, TURBANS, a SAND DOLLAR, ANGEL WINGS, a pretty SCALLOP, JEWEL BOXES , NUTMEGS, a SHARK’s EYE (and the magic marker to judge the size- clever!) and do you see that other shell above the LIGHTNING WHELK? Donnie said it’s a piece of a DEER COWRIE that he found in about the same spot as Mother Earth Marilyn’s DEER COWRIE. Remember that?
Yep! Looks like it to me too! Even a piece is a great find.
The shells above were finds within the last three months. Love those FLAT SCALLOPS and oh, by the way, nice HORSIES!
Another cool thing I have to show you from their collection is an ALPHABET CONE. After seeing the video on my post ABCs Of Alphabet Cones, they checked their CONES and found a shelling “scene”. On the third row down there are three stick figures. From left to right it looks like a sheller walking along with the sun (or moon- haha) shining…. then he/she finds a treasure and does the Sanibel Stoop….. then raises the treasure up to show it off and does the happy dance! So funny!
They found this batch of shells (above) last weekend at the jetty on the Captiva side of Blind Pass. I asked him how he cleans his shells and told me 50/50 bleach to water over night then he puts mineral oil on them to bring back the color and shine them up. They look so good! The next photo shows Alyssa’s JUNONIA and the rest of their loot they found the end of February.
PS- Clark looked through our ALPHABET CONES too after I did that video and he found one for all you New York Yankees fans……
I’ve heard the Junonia, Lion’s Paw and Scotch Bonnet called the TRIFECTA of shelling!
I had no idea that Scotch bonnets were considered rare on Sanibel until I found this blog… I’ve found more than a few of them there! Too bad I haven’t had similar junonia luck… sigh.
Awesome! I have yet to find ANY of the 3. :-( It’s fun to keep looking tho.
I am getting so excited to come visit. We arrive a week from tomorrow. Hope we have good shelling! I will be looking for you with my iloveshelling hat!!
Diane- Ha! Those are the biggies for us, so I’m happy to hear someone else thinks so- Thanks
Sara- you are one lucky gal
kim- it sure is fun hunting though isnt it? we’ll find ours one day!do you hear me mr junonia?
Lisa- I’ll be looking for you! I’ll have mine on too
Thank you Pam for all you do…It has been our experience that the hobby of shelling has attracted the most nicest of people to our area. We haven’t met a bad shell yet ;-)
Alyssa has been quite lucky with her finds as of late…she says it’s because she’s lower to the ground than me so she can see better…lol
She knows all the names of the shells on the beach and we have had many hugs and high fives together…memories that bond her and I ….as it should be…the best of times for us.
I can’t wait to show her this in the morning…because we sit together and I read her this blog when we are together.
She loved the mini-shell video this afternoon after we got back from the Lighthouse and loved it…as did I….she was the little girl giving away our cull shells today on the beach and educating the unknowing…lol…I love that little girl.
Thank you Again Pam
One proud Dad
You guys sound like a great team!!! I bet she was sooooo excited to see herself on the computer!!
As always Pam, you do a great job highlighting the wonderful people behind all the shells. I can’t wait to get down there in June…until then I’ll just sit and stare at your wonderful posts!
She was a thrilled little Sea Star… ;-)
Counting the days till we’ll be on the beach again.
Love living in paradise.
On my last trip to Sanibel (just before Christmas) I found a very nice valve of the Lions Paw on the south side of Cayo Costa. I actually found it Bayside where they landed the boat for the tour. The funny thing is the ONLY reason I went past the boat into the bayside was because I had just found a nice fragment of a Scotch Bonnet on my way back to the boat and figured it was worth a quick look-see what was down there. On this trip I did also find a fragment of a Junonia, but it looks like the magic on Sanibel now-adays is left to the kids. Nice find Alyssa!
PS. If anyone REALLY wants to collect Scotch Bonnets I have a place (no, its not near Sanibel) just email me privately.
Yes, for some reason, they are one of my top three favorites. Such a happy and gentle shell. (I love all the helmets) Every day that I take a walk along the ocean, that is what I hope to find….but lately, none. Please let me know, and I promise not to tell anyone else. Thanks so much.
Hey Doug, how do I find your email address?
You can email me at email@example.com (remove the ‘1s’)
Only get to Sanibel a couple times a year, however I do find Scotch Bonnets on the East Coast of Florida quite often, most of the time our shells are broken, so when you find a whole one – it is a good day in the sea shell hunting world!
WOWZERS! I’m always astonished at the wealth of seashells in your region – we just don’t have anything like that on the Washington coastline. What a lucky young lady Alyssa is! Hope you have a great week and thanks for the continued seashell inspiration.
That Deer cowrie looks like a great find I have been going to Sanibel every year and I have always wondered why it isn’t found in Sanibel very often. I was in the keys two years ago and found two deer cowries inbetween rocks at a jetty in Marathon. I used bleach to clean them up and they came out good. By the way does anyone know if Blind pass is starting to fill in again?
Amazing as always! I wondered when you would have a picture and/or a post on a Lion’s Paw! I love those!
I found a baby Lion’s Paw on North Captiva in a big shell pile…about the size of a dime. I have a lot of pieces of larger ones…when I get enough …super glue will be my friend :-)
geez, these guys are good…………
I got home from Sanibel a week ago and thought I had my fill of shelling for a while but now I want to shell more than ever! I guess a week is long enough!
i simply must find the trifecta now :) so pretty & lucky little girl
I love your videos near the ocean! I listen to them awhile I’m doing homework just hear the waves, it is very relaxing! Keep them coming! I’ll be on the beaches of Sanibel, in 40 something days!!!
Hi, im a Minnesota gal. Waited a long time to get to Sanibel ( im 47). We also went to Lovers state park. I found the beach at Sanibel very sparse compared to legends, is there a BEST time to go? Might get back down there in a few months.
i found a intact Junonia and a large Lion’s Paw on the east coast Fla. last year after Hurricane Sandy passed by sticking out of the eroding cliffs at John U’ Lloyd State Park. it was near the bottom of these 8-9 foot cliffs. didn’t know these are rare until now.
I live on Marco. It cracks us all up who live here, how Sanibel is always touted as THE place to find shells. We are all glad no one comes to Marco, because that leaves all the best shells for us. I have found three perfect junonia since November and have a friend who has found nine since January first!! I have found a shark eye 4″ in diameter, and every other Gulf shell you can imagine. My absolute prize is a Bat Volute I found last spring. They are indigenous to The Phillipines! If only that shell could talk !!
This story goes back to 1986. My wife and I were avid shellers and snorklers off Marco Island. We always had a not so friendly competition. One day while snorkeling off the radar tracking station I found a Junonia with light brown spots on it. I sure had bragging rights !! Two days later I was bested when my wife found one with dark brown spots. Only 15 years later while visiting The Blue Mussel Shell Shop in Naoles did I discover the rarity of the shells. They also told us the legend of the Junonia shell.
My wife and I have been quite successful the last two days. We are continuing our hunt for the ever elusive Junonia today and tomorrow on Sanibel.
I could attach a video of yesterday’s shells, if I knew how, but regrettably, I’m not tech savvy.
Have a great day. Happy Shelling.
-Brad and Ewa
I was wondering what beaches were the best for shelling in Japan? I will be there July 4-24.
We are what locals in SW Florida call snow birds i guess as we spend every February there. We stay in a home on a canal in Cape Coral the first week so we can keep a 26 foot rental boat tied in the canal and we island hop everyday that week, primarily to Cayo Costa, out favorite.
After the first week we turn in the rental boat and move to a condo right on the beach on Estero Island, (Fort Myers Beach).
Last February in 2019 we noticed a much larger than normal amount of all types of shells. I fear there were so many because of the horrible red tide that hit the Gulf waters really hard there in 2018 that sadly killed a large number of everything living in the water there.
If I’m right about the abundance of shells being due to a massive kill from the red tide, we were wondering if shell numbers might be down in 2020 and beyond until everything has a chance to repopulate to normal population levels.
Any thoughts on this?
Thank you for your fantastic blog, we love it and it helps feed our shelling addiction!