I love paper Valentines. Finding a PAPER FIG Valentine on the beach is even better! Okay, I didn’t find these laying on the beach just like this (especially with a red background- heehee) but I found some very cool Beach Bling that I could not identify…
It looked like the gulf had a picnic and the left over corn cobs washed up on the beach. I saw them littered from Middle Gulf Drive to Blind Pass the last two days. They may look like corn cobs but I knew they were mollusk egg cases.
They also look like WHELK egg casing coils that have been chopped every couple of inches. So which shell laid these eggs?
Dr Jose Leal of the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum identified these as ATLANTIC FIG SNAIL eggs. Oh Cool! PAPER FIGS! Thanks Dr. Leal!
I loooove to notice different things that wash up on the beaches…. so this tickled me to learn what one more mollusk egg casing looked like.
But wait! While I was inspecting one of the PAPER FIG EGG CASES, I saw something else in between the individual egg “disks”…. more eggs! Another mollusk laid eggs on the FIG egg case. Wow!
The PAPER FIG egg casings were very sandy but you can see the orangish rows containing little babies from another shell. I have no idea which shell laid these eggs but if you know, please share!
There were so many empty FIG shells lying on the beach too. Annette S. had commented on my last post about how many she found as well. There were oodles of them!
I had to add this photo again of a live PAPER FIG from a previous post…
This photo fascinates me to see how far this guy is out of the shell…
This is the mollusk peaking out of the aperture. And notice, these guys don’t have OPERCULUMS…
The shells are so fragile, most often they are found broken on the beach but when they are empty and whole, Clark can’t help but pick them up. This is one of his fave shells to collect so here’s a PAPER FIG Valentine for my honey and all of you other PAPER FIG lovers out there!
How clever of you, Pam! A Paper Fig Valentine…thank you. Yes, they are awesome shells. I love to find them whole and they are somewhat fragile, but they have always travelled home with me in one piece. Lucky me. And the egg casings are fascinating. It’s wonderful that you can observe and learn so much living as you do near the beach, and not only a beach but the beach that surrounds SANIBEL! Yahoo! HAPPY VALENTINE’s DAY to you and Clark!
wonderful as always!
Happy Valentines Day!! Pam and Clark
Happy Heart Day!!
Very first shell I ever owned. Family friend from Lakeland, FL give it to me when I was about 10 yrs. old, carefully wrapped in gauze. The obsession began. I just love Sanibel Island. Happy Valentines Day!
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Clark! I too love paper figs and am fortunate to have a nice collection of whole ones. Enjoy the day.
Made my Valentine’s Day. Thank you. Can’t wait to return in March. For those who might be around, my husband, Paul, will be giving a presentation on March 22 at 3:30 at Big Arts on wildlife photography on Sanibel. Would love to meet some of you there!
I’d love to meet yall and to see his presentation! I put it on my calendar
My husband and I will be there from the 15th thru the 23rd. I will put it on my calendar too.
How fascinating! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Clark!
so how long does it take for the eggs to “hatch”? cause i am assuming that you leave them on the sand or put them back in the water in order for them to grow?
Yes, they would have to be underwater to finish development, and I would think it’s probably a matter of weeks from the egg-laying to the hatching out of the tiny snails, but I don’t know that for a fact. It’s quite possible that no-one knows that info for that particular species. You would be surprised at how much is not known about even the fairly common species of sea snail!
How fabulous Pam! What a great blog post and how beautiful! I wish I could tell you what species those little tiny rows of eggs are from, but I don’t know. I suppose Dr. Leal didn’t know either, or did you not ask him about the little ones? Anyway, as far as I am concerned this will probably be one of the best posts of the year! Thanks so much!
Only an artist would think of making a valentine out of paper figs. How clever! There’s not much better than finding intact paper figs on the beach! They’re up there in my top ten favorite finds!
Now, about the eggs on the egg casing. I wonder if the eggs feed off the other shells casing… It’s a shell eat shell world out there…
Happy Valentines Day, Pam and Clark!
Wow! Whole paper figs and egg casings! Wish I could be there! Love them!
These are such pretty shells. I have 1 of them, and it has a place of honor in an arrangement on my dining table right now
Why is it that certain types of shells seem to show up at the same time on the beach. Do they have a certain mating time or do water conditions affect only certain types of seashell critters? It just seems interesting that at different times of year that shells that you might not find on a regular basis show up in bunches. I would love to know why this phenomena happens.
I even find it happens at the same time but on different areas of the beach. On one section of beach there will be hundreds of fighting conchs. They start suddenly and stop suddenly. Then further down the beach it might be a section of alot of welks. I have always found it interesting but never knew why and it made me feel like I was always missing something because I was on one particular stretch of beach and not another. If anyone knows, I too am curious why.
I don’t know the scientific answer for your question Brent D but in my humble opinion, the depth of the gulf water in different areas (the surface areas of the sea floor) has a lot to do with where a certain species will colonize. For example, we seem to see massive amounts of fighting conchs in areas with sand bars close to the shore. This is the same with sand dollars. So depending on from which way there are high winds blowing, it would seem to reason to me that’s when those colonies will get washed up to shore. That’s just my observations, I’m sure there are many more answers.
This is a very hard question to answer because there are so many factors involved! Pam is right that some areas underwater favor certain species, and so you can expect that shell to wash up in or near that area, perhaps in large numbers. I expect part of it is also what Brent says, what species is “out and about” for mating at certain times of the year, and maybe coming into more shallow water.
I am also sure that when the wind or the currents are moving in certain directions then the waves themselves will pick up certain species that don’t get picked up when the wind is blowing another way.
Different water temperatures also probably affect what is “out and about” and therefore gets accidentally washed in. Also probably some populations of a certain species might get a disease and a lot of them die at once and then the shells wash in, something like that.
This sounds crazy but the water itself will sometimes pick up certain shells more than others, depending on the kind of waves, how big they are what shape they are, how rough they are, all those things, and then also depending on the shape and weight and “lift” of the shell, the dynamics of how the shell behaves in a flow of water, how hydrodynamic it is, like an airplane wing or the keel of a sailboat.
I have heard it said that there is one beach in the world where only the left valve of the most common bivalve washes up! And that is just because the currents and the waves are picking up only the one that is shaped a certain way.
Incoming waves will also come up the beach and then drop shells in a certain spot because of the exact way that the swash dies down to nothing which partly depends on how felt that area of the beach is. I mean it is clear to me that the moving seawater and the waves actually SORT shells, kind of like a shell collector does, I have seen that happen.
By the way, while I was on West Gulf Drive in December there were a lot of shells, and I found 100 different kinds in 9 days, but no nutmegs at all, not even a broken piece! During the last 3 days things had changed, and people were finding quite a few nutmegs, but I was too busy to go look. It’s very weird how certain things wash up in batches and then no more for a while. It would be a very cool thing to study!
I meant to type “how flat and level that area of the beach is” not “how felt it is” !
Another thing I did not make clear is that when there are waves, the bigger they are, the deeper they can reach down to when they start to break, at which point they grab shells and other critters up off of the sea bed and carry them up onto the beach. A 1-foot wave picks up shells from only 1 foot deep, 10-foot wave picks up shells and other critters from 10 foot depth, and huge hurricane waves of 50 feet pick up stuff from the bottom at 50 foot depth, so then you start to get the deepwater shells wash in, like the Junonias and so on. (Of course a hermit crab will sometimes find a deepwater shell and carry it in to shallow water too.)
And then of course there are currents like long-shore drift, that can move shells sideways along a beach!
I believe that whenever water moves things around a lot, it also inevitably sorts them, by size, by weight, by how well they float, or by how exactly they move in the water.
It’s all so complicated!
Following Katherine’s note regarding the accumulation patterns of shells, I was wondering what time of year is best for shelling on Sanibel? I just came back from my first visit there and I am HOOKED on shelling and NEED to get back as soon as possible!! Thank goodness for this website so I can my daily ‘fix’ in the meantime while I dream of my next trip. Thanks in advance!! :)
Donna – Pam could give you more specifics, but from what I read on this site and my visits to Sanibel, I think February and March have the most shells (maybe it is the stronger winter winds?). They are found all year long but it seems that in the summer the shells are smaller (mini’s) and you have to do more ‘hunting’. If you go back through Pam’s archives and look at the various times of the year, you will get a feel of what is found and when. Hopefully you will make it back soon.
Pam knows a heck of a lot more than I do, but basically it’s storms and winds from the west, south and northerly directions (not from the east) that push a lot of shells up. Each year, whichever time of the year happens to get the most storms (and they can be small storms, they don’t have to be big ones) is going to be the best time for shelling. But as you know, weather is not very predictable!
When you are a visitor who is only going to be here for a short time, and who has to book months or a year in advance, there is no way of knowing if you will be lucky enough to be at Sanibel during or right after a small storm, or right after a few weeks (or even months) of calm weather.
Thanks so much everyone…its all great info! I consider myself very fortunate that i found so many shells and types when i was only there in feb for 3-1/2 days… I wish i wasnt 3 hours away by plane!!!! Thank goodness i have this site to ‘tide’ me over until my next trip….pardon the pun :)
Thank you all for your responses to my question. I have found it fascinating that sorts of things happen. This site is far and away my favorite one to visit for any shelling information.
My wife and i love Sanibel and hope to be back down there some time soon. We just moved to Ocala in August, from east Tennessee, to be closer to friends, the ocean and Disney. We have enjoyed being here and look forward to being here for a while.