In Fort Myers a mile or so before you get to the Sanibel causeway bridge, you’ll see a sign on your left for Bunche Beach. Clark and I were running a little early (very unusual) to meet some friends so we decided kill a few minutes and check out the beach. I think it’s only the second time we’ve ever stopped at Bunche Beach.
We knew it was low tide but had no idea it would be this cool.
It felt like we were on the moon.
The crazy FIDDLER CRABS were out in the masses here too. If you missed my video of their madness, CLICK HERE.
And lots of minis!
At first, I thought there were oodles of AUGERS but noticed the lip was a little fat… they are LADDER HORN SNAILS.
You can see it a little better in this next photo. Cute, huh?
And there were mounds of MELAMPUS.
These little NASSA shells are so bright yellow and tiny, I wasn’t sure if they are the BRUISED NASSAor not. I think they may be juveniles.
Last but not least, I found three MARGINELLAS.
We had so much fun exploring Bunche Beach, I think we’ll make this a regular stop when we go off island.
It really does look cool!! May have to plan a low tide visit there on my next Sanibel vacation!!
As always, Pam, you expand our perspective as you extend our knowledge!
But I’m wondering– I know the corrigated sand is caused by the wave action but in the close-up of the fiddler crabs, it looks like there are little balls of sands. Do the crabs make sand balls as they feed and move around? Or am I seeing something else? Sorry to nitpick but we don’t have crabs on Lake Michigan’s shore and I’m curious.
Hi Linda f SW M, those little fiddlers crack me up! but here’s what I found (I had a link on my video post I referenced) –
“The crab’s smaller claw picks up a chunk of sediment from the ground and brings it to the mouth, where its contents are sifted through (making the crab a detritivore). After anything edible is salvaged, be it algae, microbes, fungus, or other decaying detritus, the sediment is replaced in the form of a little ball. The presence of these sediment balls near the entrance to a burrow is a good indication of its occupation. Some experts believe that the feeding habits of fiddler crabs play a vital role in the preservation of wetland environments; by sifting through the sands, they aerate the substrate and prevent anaerobic conditions.” Cool, huh?
i have always loved the mini shells. we will need to check that beach out when we come again
Ooooohhhh yes. I love natural Bunche Beach! Sweet minis <3
The background of the third photo would have been a nice “virtual shelling” pic. I was wondering the same thing as Linda from SW Michigan. Sand balls?
If it were snow, I’d say they were stockpiling snowballs to pelt unsuspecting passerbys but I don’t think the fiddler crabs are that mischievious. Maybe they’re making sandmen!
Pam, the Nassa is most probably the Bruised Nassa (Nassarius vibex). It and the Striate Nassa (Nassarius consensus) are the only Nassarius species that I have found around Sanibel Island and southwest Florida. Your pictured specimens appear to be subadults that have not yet formed their thickened outer lip (or varix) with the parietal shield, the glossy white surface covering the shell opposite the outer lip of the shell. Without a mature specimen with a well developed parietal shield, the identification is much more difficult. I love those mini shells.
Here is a link to additional pictures, http://www.gastropods.com/0/Shell_1930.shtml
Hi buddy, all of these pictures looks really nice. I visited Bunche Beach last year and captured lots of great shots. Your pictures are reminded me that memory. Last picture is the best one of this season. Thanks :)
Lots of wonderful minis!! Love the rippled sand and the fiddlers. Maybe I’ll actually have to go off island next year!!!
Crab SPIT balls, I believe!
those are immature Nassarius vibex. The ladder shells and the coffee bean snails can be found alive in the muddy mangroves and marshy areas on both sides of the parking area.
Thanks Steve! I didn’t see any of the live coffees or ladders but did see a live marginella. I was almost positive those were juvie bruised nassa but I couldnt bank on it. Thanks to you and MurexKen, we now have a positive id. I am grateful to you both- I hate to make incorrect ids! ;)
New place to try–thanks
We’ll be on Sanibel on Tuesday, so I’ll be sure to stop by Bunche Beach. My husband keeps talking about going there for bird photography, so now we have double reasons!
Thanks for the tip, I do love the little gems!
This question is for Sanibelle’s husband… I’m into birding but have not heard of this beach referenced for birds… any tips ???
Hi PABirdbrain… heh, love the name!
He heard that you can see some birds that aren’t normally found on Sanibel. He could only remember that one of them is the American Avocet. Can’t say if it’s an all the time thing, but it might be worth checking out. Maybe there’s a good vantage point for getting bird shots. I’ll let you know if we get there this trip. We’re only going for four days, but we’ll be back in March/April for a couple of weeks.
I saw a beautiful Great Blue Heron while we were out there but the photo wasn’t clear enough so I didn’t post it. I think the Roseates hang out there some times too.
Hi Sanibelle, this site has a downloadable brochure about Bunche Beach and on the 2nd page it lists the birds typical to the area.
I feel like home – it looks like our beach in Cholla Bay, Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
With our extreme tides, (+19 to -5)and Pinacate Volcano we get lots of mud flats and “tiny mini shells” and fiddler crabs. Everything you have above i’ve got in my collection. Even if we are 3,000 mile apart. Interesting.
Janet in Arizona
Janet- I’d love to get down there some day! Small world
Wow. The new moon did bring a great low tide. Have to add visit Bunche Beach to my bucket list.
The melampus remind me of acorns without their ‘hats’. Thanks for letting us visit a new beach through your great pictures.
awesome shells! great finds!