How many times have you found a perfect SAND DOLLAR, a cute little crab shell or a SUNRAY VENUS still with both side attached… only to find them broken to pieces by the time you get home to show off your gems? Geez, I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the times I’ve done it. Fortunatley, in the last few years I miraculously grew more brain cells (thank goodness) so now I throw tubs and tubes in my tote to protect those fragile shells.
You remember all of the SAND DOLLARS I found snorkeling over the weekend? As soon as I got back to our boat, I put them in plastic tubs I’ve saved (the packaging for our butter, cottage cheese and lunch meat) to keep them from getting crushed in my bag. Recycling at its best! My favorite container is the tube from the Crystal Light packaging. I save this one for long fragile shells… like WORMIES but unfortunately I didn’t find any WORM SHELLS on our boat trip this time so I used this container keep my biggest ANGEL WING safe and sound…
Okay, so I have to show you my newest shell bag that is helping me keep my fragile shells safe until I can even get the to my containers for travel. This called a “shower tote” I found at Bed Bath and Beyond that is a rubberized mesh with tons of outside pockets. I’m loving this thing! All the non-fragiles go in the center like a regular shell bucket or bag then the fragiles get stashed in the outside pockets. The SAND DOLLARS are a perfect fit for the wider pockets and the other pockets keep small or thin shells from getting broken by the OLIVE and WHELKS being thrown on top of them. Watch out MacGyver!
In one of the smaller pockets, I threw a couple of bivalves that I found on Cayo Costa that I don’t often find on Sanibel…
This PURPLISH SEMELE is not a rare shell, but this one seemed particularly deep purple on the interior. Okay, I should have put some mineral oil on it to keep the color bright… but I didn’t. ;( I hope you can still see the deep color!
Here’s the exterior…
I also found her sister shell… the WHITE ATLANTIC SEMELE…
I’m sure both of these would be great craft shells…
I also found several CHALKY BUTTERCUP LUCINES on Cayo Costa. I never find these on Sanibel! These are the big sisters of the BUTTERCUP LUCINES (on top row of the next photo) which we do find on Sanibel frequently … and one of Clark’s faves.
After shelling all day, we stored all of our treasures safely in our containers then Captain Clark got behind the wheel as I was going to pull up the anchor… and looky who was giving us a great send off! A MANATEE!
Darn! I wished I still had my snorkel gear on with my camera to film this underwater but any way we get to see them is a really treat.
We always get excited when we see a MANATEE so not only did we see this one, we saw a whole group of them on the way home. It was thrilling! This time I got a very shaky video. Yes, shaky because I was so excited and because I had to react really quickly when I saw them surface. Clark always does a great job of watching out for them and idling the engine when they get close but we’ve never had them follow the boat like this before. It was crazy! And I cant help but squeal or ohhh and ahhh when they surface so … I’m apologizing now. I had to edit some of it out because my voice gets so weird and high and sqeaky… it’s embarrassing. LOL Enjoy!
PS- If you’d like to take a boat ride out to Cayo Costa for some shelling and sight seeing.. CLICK HERE
For more tips on traveling with seashells, click on the links below…
Those manatees make my heart melt! Thank you for sharing your video!
That is sooooooo cool! What a wonder to behold. They sure looked like they were enjoying themselves. They recognized you both as friends. Love how they frolicked in the water! I’ve not seen them surface and come out of the water like that. Maybe because they were in more open waters? Thank you, thank you for such great footage. And Pam, I appreciate your “high” voice raised in awe of the gift they gave you and Clark!
We’ve had manatees on Manasota Key in the swimming areas. One came up behind one of my friend’s kids who was swimming in fairly shallow water and it goosed him. I saw the whole thing but was so shocked I for got my camera was in my hand.
I love your new bag from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. There are so many carriers that are made for another purpose that work great for shelling. I reuse all my plastic tubs too. It’s heart breaking to get home to clean your shells and find your goodies smashed to smitherines. I also carry a few zip-locs and old perscription bottles for my mini’s.
Pam, they must have felt your good cosmic energy to follow you like that. They are such special creatures and it is always a treat to see one. What a present, I guess you were having ‘Christmas in July’. haha.
I like your BB&B tote. I think it’s time to replace mine.
Those are great tips, thanks for sharing!!
They’re so sweet! I would have been tempted to jump in with them! And I’m running out and getting one of those totes! Is the bottom mesh? I usually like to run my whole shell bag under the outdoor faucet before I bring them in. I also save old prescription vials for my minis and bring plenty of ziplocks. When we were on Sanibel in April, I found some large, beautiful sea whips, but was at a loss as to how to get them home. I went to Bailey’s and the butcher gave me a couple of his largest foam meat trays. The sea whips fit perfectly between them held together with some rubber bands!
Amazing video!! Can people jump in and snorkel with them? I would have wanted to jump off the boat! I also get the crazy, excited voice! Lol, but I think it’s completely normal! Love the shell bag! Have got to go get one! Thanks for the amazing video!
Sherri from MN
Great example, Pam. We do that too. When we go to Lighthouse we take a container for the wentletraps and we’ve learned to be careful with the Angle wings and sand dollars too. The bag you found is perfect!
Over the 30 years we have brought shell home in luggage. I use plastic or paper egg cartons most of the time. Don’t have to take them with us to Sanibel, as we cook breakfast most days. Also if you have several sand dollars putting the flat sides together and using a 1 or 2 litre soft drink bottle. Using knife or scissors to cut a U shaped flap in one side of the bottle place the dollars into it and tape of elastic band it. Place paper towels in to not let the dollars move inside the bottle.
Have your treasures at home is a good thing!
Those are the MOST active manatees I’ve ever seen! Lucky y’all!
That was very cool!
I know it sounds a little ‘type A’ or so, but I love those little compartment boxes you can get at your local hardware (think storing nuts/bolts) or craft store (think beads)….all of the little cubbies they have keep the daintiest of shells intact! A box like this that was only 12 x 9 inches allowed me to bring home more than 500 shells from my 4 day sanibel trip and only 1 shell broke!! Of course, I carried it on the plane, did not check THAT bag :)
Looks like so much fun! I can’t wait to get back to Sanibel in October. LOVE the off season! I really like a less traveled beach. I think I might dash over to Bed, Bath & Beyond to see if they have the shower tote you found. I could sure use it when we take our next cruise with Capt Brian out to Cayo Costa!! Can’t wait to find some of the beautiful shells like yours!! Take care!!
I have so many shells I brought home to Maine from our trip to Sanibel two weeks ago, I don’t know what to do with them all. (They all made it home safely.) How about some tips for that? I did make some frames. I bought some frames with wide edges, spray painted them with a textured sand colored paint (looks just like sand) and glued shells around it. Of course there are some pictures in them of my kids and shells from our trip! My bag of shells wrapped in almost a whole package of napkins stayed right with me on the plane. Wish we’d seen some manatees on our boat trip to Cayo Costa. Did see some dolphins from a distance. Next trip maybe. Love looking at your pictures of shells. My husband and I had a hard time stopping when we were shelling.
This post brought back memories of finding sand dollars years ago in Galveston – our daughter was a toddler and I used ALL of her Huggies for wrapping them safely…they come complete with tapes to close them up, too! And yes, I admit, brushing out the sand and using those very diapers on her later. (Guess it didn’t bother her – as a grownup she went to Calif to work w a non profit shark conservation group!) The crystal lights are great and, in a pinch, a toilet paper or paper towel tube is also great for delicate shells – bandaids to seal the ends :-)
Love the manatees – saw some in Marathon for the first time ever and I KNOW I squealed a bit….coming to stay in Ken and Alice’s condo for a week in November – counting the days. Thanks for the beautiful words, pics and videos.
I’m a real fan of your site, love love love sanibel, come as often as we can. We where there for two week at the end of this past may. A very large pod of manatees, around 40-50 made a special appearance at light house point for around 30 minutes or so. Many of us where able to pet the manatees, who swam up to us over and over again, mom’s with babies and huge bulls. They came to us not vice versa, bumping up with noses, rubbing up against our legs etc, it was a once in a live time experience. I was in the water and didn’t get to film it, but I found a video online from someone who did film it, thought you might enjoy.
Sally, I have seen big pods of manatees hanging around people or kayaks but I’ve never seen an overhead shot like this… which is AWESOME! Yall were so lucky to have experienced that! Thank you so much for sharing this
I also was worried about getting my sand dollars home safely. I was told to use Elmers glue & appoy it with a sponge brush. I applied 2-3 coats and it worked! The sand dollars dried really hard & made them easier to transport. I applied a few more coats when I got home & now they are now really hard and easy to work with.
I am a huge fan of yours…..I love this page so much and enjoy everything you put on it……I enjoy all the comments very much…. I appreciate all you do…… And, how wonderful for you that you learned how to make this all a part of your life…
Thank you, Gayle
I really have to thank all of you for comments and feedback! I might not always comment back to everyone but just know that when I read such nice notes, it always makes me smile and makes me want to share more and more of this incredible place. xo
Great tote idea! I carry some of the 1 1/2″ diameter containers that are soft plastic like a sandwich container. They come in stacks of 10, round and square. Mine are from Big Lots and Tuesday Morning. Perfect for coquinas and ultra-minis. Thanks so much for your blog; I really look forward to reading it. An unrelated question: how long do you think the bounty from the dredging will last? My next Sanibel trip is in December, and I’m ever hopeful!
Love your postings. Those manatees were awesome. I have been a member of Save the Manatee for years and love when I see them swimming along. My husband and I saw one in Deerfield Beach (east coast) last year. We have a condo in Pompano and live in Maryland. Your post is my vacation time!!! Thank you
Just wanted to mention hanging on to egg containers for delicate shells, and using air-popped popcorn to pack in. We used two big bags of popcorn to pack our shells in.