I see a lot of CLAM shells every day I’m on the beach but this one I found at Blind Pat’s (….oops! I mean Blind Pass. ;) ) was a little different from the usual clam shells like the DOSINIAS, CALICO VENUSES or SEMELES.
At first I thought it was just gunk stuck on the edge of this shell but I didn’t want to do anything to it since it seemed so fragile. Once I got home, I could see that this thin shell was a SMOOTH DUCK CLAM and that “gunk” was a nice little ridge on the side of it that makes it different from its “sister shell” the CHANNELED DUCK CLAM I call a SAILOR’S EAR. I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a SMOOTH DUCK CLAM before (I don’t think it’s too common in South Florida but I may have just never noticed) but we frequently see the SAILORS EARS on the beach so I can’t believe I’ve never shown this one before.
See? Doesn’t that look familiar? I found the SMOOTH DUCK CLAMS in the shell line on the pass side of the jetty rocks this week.
I found the CHANNELED DUCK CLAMS in my stash of shells that Clark and I have been trying to organize. I’ve been overwhelmed by all the shells in our garage that have never been cleaned and sorted so this is our project this week. Organize! We don’t bring home many shells any more but some times…. you know how it is. We just can’t help it.
I have promoted you from Super Sheller to SSA. Sanibel’s Shelling Ambassador! I have no authority to do that but someone should. You promote Sanibel to shellers all over the USA and beyond. Thanks! MEM
I second that emotion!
Awww. Thanks yall! That’s so sweet of you MEM…. a promotion! With a real title! LOL
Pam Rambo, SSA ……heehee
That last picture makes me green… with ENVY!! ooohhhhh….
Pam – My “shell hoarding” situation isn’t as big as yours…but with time, I might be able to catch up!!! Love that you are organizing your shells – I did that with mine, and I feel so much better! Any more pics or videos of Blind Pass?!!! Congrats on the Duck Clam find!
I have learned so much from your web site….I love soaking up your knowledge. When I am in Ohio for the summer I live on Sanibel through you….my sister in law loved her “I love Shelling” hat with the light….she is excited to get back down in December to use it.
Yes, I know how it is… Greg and I are the same way. But, last time we came home from Sanibel we brought back a bunch… again, as we probably always will. It gave us the opportunity to sit down with the grandkids and glue on googly eyes, little hats, button noses, etc. Funny, I found out that our 4 year old grandson actually brought them to show & tell. I got a real kick out of that!
Hi Pam, For us people who have yet to visit Sanibel (I’m coming for the first time in December) would you consider showing us what you think are the six most common (ordinary, everyday) shells that wash up on the sand (Gulf) beaches? (Probably they are all clams I would guess.) Some people might not find this interesting, but I certainly would!
Many thanks for your great blog,
Hi Susan – Over on the left side of Pam’s blog page find “Sanibel Six” and it’s Pam’s list of the most common shell “finds” on Sanibel. Hope that helps.
Hey, I like that idea! Like Christine said I named the Sanibel Six as the over all best six shells that people collect and are considered to be good finds that most shellers will have in their shell bags on Sanibel. I wouldn’t consider these to be the most ordinary if that was your question. I probably would say clams, scallops and arks are on the beach at any given time… but ….hmmmm…. that’s food for thought. I might try to do a post on those but most of the time I look right over those shells. Ha! This will make me stop and consider them a little more- give me some time to think it over. Thanks!
Thanks so much Pam, I really would like to know which you think are the extremely common and “ordinary” shells on the beaches, the not-so-glamorous ones that hardly anyone gives a second thought to. I hope that would not be too much work for you, but I would be very interested to see what you say about that. Of course I see many (presumably) common shells in the background in your “cyber shelling” videos, but the camera moves over them so fast I can’t really tell what they are, except yes, I think I do see a lot of ark shells. But I suppose there are quite a few different species of arks that are common on Sanibel. Anyway, thanks for all your efforts, your blog, as always, is excellent.
I love the shot of your shell sorting! I admit….. I have a serious shell hoarding issue! I have carried SO many shells home with me over the past 29 years from our trips to Sanibel…I can’t begin to lift the rubber tubs they are in! I have shells in lamps, shells in jars and bowls, shells on shelves, shells in the garden…Some day in the distant future an archeologist is going to unearth them and be totally puzzled at how such a big deposit of seashells from the gulf are present north of the Ohio River! I am sure they will arrive at a theory as to why, but I doubt if they even consider it could be because of a shell crazy collector couldn’t stop collecting! As any good shell collector…I will continue to add to my stockpile each time I return to Sanibel!…….which I am hoping will be many many times more to come!
Pam, I have found a number of the channeled duck clams or sailor’s ears, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=232 , but have checked our shell collection (shell database) and have no record of a smooth duck clam, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=229 So, I believe that your shell is an excellent find. Maybe I will be lucky enough to find one of those shells the next time that I am on Sanibel Island. I hope so.
I am pleased that you continue to mention and show the bivalves. These easily overlooked shells may not be considered by many shell collectors as glamorous or attractive, but they are the most common shells (by far) and some of the most interesting ones on Sanibel Island. As above, Christine Kieffer mentioned your “Sanibel Six”, which are some of the most well know of the more common Sanibel Island shells. Although they are well known and rather attractice, they are, unfortunately, probably not the most common shells on Sanibel Island. Perhaps some of them are the most common ones that we all like to collect. In any case, the bivalves (aka “clams”) are the most common shells, either by number or by volume, that roll up on Sanibel Island. The “shell mounds” that are so frequently discussed are composed, primarily of dead bivalve halves. The Florida cross-barred venus, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=258 is arguably the most common one. Other, almost as common, bivalves, are the Transverse ark, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=181 , the Atlantic kitten paw, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=196 , the Broad-ribbed carditid, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=216, the Atlantic calico scallop, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=190
and the Variable coquina, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=255
Susan H. asked about the six most common (ordinary, everyday) shells that wash up on the sand. These are not the glamorous, “sexy” snails or gastropods, but these are, IMHO, the most common shells that wash up on the shores of Sanibel Island.
Pam, in your always enjoyable way, you mention “Ducks, Ducks and Goose”. In keeping with this theme, perhaps some of the readers of your blog know of the geoducks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoduck , a shell that is found in the Pacific northwest, but not on Sanibel Island. While visiting New Zealand a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to find a relative of the geoduck, the New Zealand geoduck clam, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopea_zelandica . As for the “Goose”, you might consider the Goose barnacle, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goose_barnacle , which is not infrequently found attached to various objects that wash up on Sanibel Island.
Please keep up the great posts.
MurexKen- Great info! I didn’t see this before I answered Susan and I think it’s fun to think about the every day ordinary shells. I like your 6 picks and I’ll be on the lookout for a goose barnacle to go with those duck clams!
Hi MurexKen, I also didn’t see your reply just now when I replied to Pam’s more recent post, sorry. Thanks so much for giving me your take on what you feel are the 6 most common and ordinary shells on the beaches of Sanibel. I would still be interested in what Pam thinks, I mean, maybe she would agree with you on every one or would perhaps com cup with a slightly different line-up. By the way, did you mean your 6 to be in order of frequency, or not really?
Best wishes to you,
Susan, your question is an interesting one on several levels. I do not believe that anyone has done a systematic, comprehensive sampling of mollusks in the waters around Sanibel Island so as to be able to determine, with any degree of accuracy, the relative biomasses of the various molluscan species. However, this may or may not be what you are asking.
In reality, the frequency of the various shell species washing up on Sanibel Island varies from one end of the island to the other, from the Gulf side to the bay side, from one day to the next, from one month to the next, from one season to the next and from one year to the next. Tides, currents and storms all have an enormous effect on the number and the specific molluscan species that wash up on Sanibel Island. So, to a significant extent, the answer to your question is constantly changing.
As such, the best answer I can give is to say that the common bivalves are much more frequent than any of the snails or gastropods. Of the bivalves some are much more common than others. The six I listed certainly are ones that are very common. In addition, there are the pen shells, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=188 and http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=189, the other ark shells, including the Ponderous ark, http://shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=182 , the Dosinias, the Cockles, and the Lucines. When these shells are so common, does it really matter if one shell is slightly more common than the next shell, on one particular day, in one location on Sanibel Island? Although my day job requires me to be very detail oriented, that degree of detail it way beyond my interest level, especially when it will most likely be different in a week or two, if not the next day.
As I said, your question is an intriguing one. My answer is the best one that I can give you. I hope it helps. Pam, please comment further, especially if I have misunderstood Susan’s question or you can provide additional information.
Thanks MurexKen for your detailed answer. I find the beach drift (the death assemblage) very interesting as a phenomenon in its own right, and I also find it fascinating which beach drift shells people notice, and which ones they overlook. Everyone is a little bit different in that respect. And I am still curious to see what Pam may end up saying about her impression of which are the commonest species, once she has a chance to think about it some more.
Best wishes to you,
NEVER enough shells!!! I was on the pass side of Blind Pass today also. I sat and sifted under the bridge for a few hours and came home a happy sheller! lots of minis and my first flat scallop! the rainbow that hung around for a long time was an added bonus. Nuttin’ like sanibel/captiva!
Loving that collection Pam!
The piles under the bridge at Blind pass have definitely gotten a workout this weekend! I was under there Friday afternoon and also came away a happy sheller with lots of new minis. This is going to be my trip of many minis… ;)