I found a SEAHORSE on Bowman’s Beach!
I have only found one other SEAHORSE in all the years I have been shelling so this is a real treasure for me. After I washed some of the sand off of him, I could see that his back fin had been broken off so that’s why the little guy didn’t make it. Poor little sweetie.
SEAHORSES anchor themselves by their tail on sea grasses so maybe this guy couldn’t help but get pushed around with the tide on one of the pieces of SARGASSUM after his fin got damaged. Last night the beach was littered with SARGASSUM which looks like a SEAWEED with little berries on it. This is NOT the same as the HYDROID that I talked about on my last post. This will not sting you thank goodness.
I was a little disappointed that there weren’t more shell piles instead of all this BEACH BLING but I just kept looking around the SARGASSUM and oodles of RED MANGROVE SEED PODS sprinkled along the beach.
That’s when I saw it!
I even got video of my find! Now you will see how much BEACH BLING I had to “weed” through to find this awesome treasure. Enjoy!
PS- That first photo looks like the SEAHORSE painting I did to make my Sea Life notecards.
My husband wanted to find a sea horse when we were visiting in June- I had no idea it was so difficult but it explains why we didn’t see any! I love your posts but it makes us want to come back NOW, not in a couple of years!
Love the video…the dramatic music & wording make finding the seahorse very exciting….which it would be!! I’d love to find a treasure like that, someday!!!
Pam you are so funny! I love the drama! I can’t believe how much I look forward to your posts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Two posts in two days, Pam, you really spoil us !! My hubby found a seahorse once here at a beach on the south shore of Long Island, about half the size of yours.. Maybe your seahorse is friends with Herbie Hippocampus, the seahorse (mascot) of the Monterey Bay aquarium!! :)
So cool, looks like he was right next to a bird footprint!
Yes, there were lots of birds and I may have scared one off that was about to gobble my little seahorse right up so I’m so happy I got there when I did.
It looks as if you are right Pam! I am so glad you got to it before it became just a salty snack for a gull!
Your video is really terrific. You have a real talent for this stuff. Move over David Attenborough!
That is too cool and did you see the bird footprint right next to it? I love it!
My parents (and most years, my brother and I also) have been going to Sanibel over 30 years. My dad found one sea horse way way back and none since. Congratulations.
Beautiful creatures, I’m glad they live off of Sanibel. When I was a kid I thought they were totally amazing, like a mythical beast. Even now it’s hard to believe that it is “just” a fish.
I’m currently by the beach in San Diego North County. Was in the Pacific Ocean just an hour ago, at “Swami’s”, a famous surf spot that is very pretty.
Not too many shells up here, more shells a bit further south, in La Jolla.
Hi Susan, if you are sticking around San Diego for a while lomger, I found this post about where to go for shells in San Diego.. ‘Imperial Beach and Del Mar are both great locations to find sea shells, sea stars, sand dollars, and a bunch of other stuff. The thing is there are lots of beach combers who love to collect so you have to go really early right when the tide is going out or other people will collect the best stuff so you have to be fast’…
Way back in 1970 I lived in La Jolla and Pacific Beach for 14 months coming from England. I couldn’t get a work permit so I went shelling nearly every day, both there and all up and down the coastline.
Like anywhere else the shelling depends on: 1. a good low tide, preferably a minus tide in daylight hours, 2. the luck of the game regarding currents and storms and so on, and 3. knowing exactly where shells tend to get dumped on any individual beach.
Imperial Beach is way down next to the border with Mexico and therefore it’s a long way to go from where I am. Del Mar is not far, but there are no real low tides during daylight during these 2 weeks.
Nowhere here is like Sanibel for shells, actually there are only a few places on earth that get as many shells as Sanibel. But at the same time there are nowhere near as many people searching for shells so it all evens out a bit :)
I know virtually all the local shells here real well and have them in my collection from 1970/71, so I am really only interested in finding small rare things that I might not have come across before.
Actually some parts of the coastline here are marine preserves, and in those areas you are not allowed to take anything, not even pebbles or dead empty shells.
Thanks Susan…i have been posting notes to you here because I don’t think the emails I have sent to your contact info are working properly.. Can you check? I feel bad hijacking Pam’s beautiful blog to get to you!!
I haven’t gotten any emails from you Donna. Are you using the exact address that is printed on my “business” card?
At least we have been talking shells here! :)
Yes, Susan, I have your address right..check your spam folder, its likely there :)
Congrats!! Nice find. My sister found one last year on cayo costa when we were there with Capt. Brian. It’s quite the treasure. I wanted to steal it….. LOL!
Thats so awesome Pam!
That is quite the find! My kids found one once on Marco Island about 12 years ago. It really does seem like a mythical beast until you find one and realize they are real. I enjoy your posts!
How wonderful to read about your sea treasure in the form of a seahorse…About ten years ago, I had the luxury of spending the month of January on Sanibel…Many moons ago I made a bargain with the ocean…I would pick any piece of glass that I found on my beloved Newport Beach in California and in return SHE would put goodies at my feet…I walked for miles every day, while I was on Sanibel…and found unbelieveable shells and beach bling…I arrived at Bowman’s Beach one day and to my amazement the beach was totally void of any shells… I looked out over the ocean at the beauty of the waves, while standing on a small mound of sand…Something caught my eye and I looked down between my feet and perfectly placed on the sand was a five inch seahorse…I thanked the ocean for giving me one of HER treasures…and I have continued to pick up glass from any beach I have the pleasure of walking…We both have kept our ends of the bargain…
Katie, That’s a beautiful story! And I love everybody’s stories about their seahorse finds so thanks to you all and keep em coming.
LindafSWM, I didn’t have to do anything to my first seahorse. Clark has one from years and years ago too and we’ve never done anything to that either. Has anyone else had to preserve their seahorse any other way?
Our horse was pretty well dried up when we found it, so I never did anything additional to it, and never worried about him getting stinky… when i just now opened the jar he’s in, the jar smells like fish food flakes you’d buy in the pet store, lol….good thing I keep the jars clamped shut!!
My day job involves working in a medical laboratory. I have used formaldehyde and formalin (10% formaldehyde) to preserve fish (including seahorses), echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, etc.) and crustaceans (shrimps, crabs, etc). Once the critters are fixed (protein stabilized) by the formalin and dried, they can last a long time. I have ones that have been preserved for over 50 years. A note of caution seems appropriate. Formalin is a hazardous chemical, which can burn the skin and kill, if swallowed. I work with it every day using gloves and a hood, but do not recommend anyone use it who is not very familiar with how to use it safely.
After my seahorse finds dry out (away from ants and birds-found that out the hard way), I tried spraying them with a clear lacquer – so far so good.
Congratulations on the wonderful find, nice to see that the sea can still amaze you!
I’m curious though– do you have to do anything special to preserve it? It’s a fish,
right? That means soft tissue and decay– sorry to take the “magic” out of the experience but if I every find a seahorse I want to know what to do to preserve my treasure. I tried to bring a starfish home from Maine but it smelled so bad my husband insisted we throw it away. That was years ago and I still regret it.
Any suggestions from more experienced beachcombers will be appreciated!
Hello! Well, I am not sure if this works for sea stars but I have tried it on my sand dollars (already dead! :) ) and it seemed to work:
Place the starfish into tap water to remove the salt.
Place the starfish into diluted bleach. The amount is subject to your preference.
Leave it in there till the starfish is bleached (approximately 5 minutes or more)
Remove it and wash it in clean water
Leave it to dry. Mix some PVA glue with water and paint the starfish with the mixture. :)
Hope this helps! Hope to see that it succeeds! :)
Oh, and for seahorses you could just sundry them for a week or so. :)
Oh, you mean to sun dry it :)
Yes, that will work if you live somewhere that has a hot dry climate but won’t work if you live in most northern states, which even in the summer tend to be too humid to dry things out, except maybe laundry!
Oh! Hee hee, yea… Because i’m from Singapore so the thing we hate the most here is the sun… It’s really bad over here. :) Hmm… I guess you could try drying it first whenever the sun’s out and possibly place it in some drying agent when your not sun drying it. :) or else you might want to try placing it a low heat oven… That may work :)
Strong sun is great for drying things out. A low heat oven would work too, but if the seastar was even a little bit not completely fresh, heating it would fill your home with a hot rotted seafood smell ! Yikes! :)
With something like a seahorse, if it isn’t already completely dried out naturally by the sun and salt, I would try soaking it in really high proof alcohol for a few weeks and then drying it out. The alcohol should pull the water out of it, which should make it dry out completely without rotting.
A different simple method would be to salt it. Bury it in salt in a container for a few weeks, and that should pull out remaining moisture to help make it dry as a bone.
Seahorses don’t have vey much “meat” on them so they should not be as hard to dry as a regular fish.
I would not use bleach, that would dissolve the tissues, you simply want to preserve it and dry it out.
Some kinds of starfish in the north Atlantic or north Pacific are really soft and “meaty”. If you find a freshly washed up dead meaty seastar in the northern parts of the US coastlines (rather than a dead seastar that has sat around ABOVE high tide level for weeks or months so that is dried out by the sun and salt already) it can be darn near impossible to dry it out without first soaking it a long time in alcohol or another real preservative. And even then it may always smell to some extent.
Nice clean dead empty shells from sea snails and clams are easier to deal with. :)
When you refer to alcohol, do you mean rubbing alcohol that you buy at the drug store? Or is it different>
You could use rubbing alcohol, although personally I think it has rather an unpleasant smell. Or you could use drinking spirits, like vodka or white rum, that kind of thing, cheap but very strong liquor. The higher the proof, the better the alcohol would be at pulling the water out of a specimen.
Rubbing alcohol is isopropyl alcohol, regular spirits is ethyl alcohol. They are different from one another.
The laws vary from state to state and country to country as to how strong the strongest ethyl alcohol is that you are allowed to buy over the counter without a special license.
You could maybe ask about this in your drugstore, as well as in the liquor store. Explain that you want to use to alcohol to preserve a specimen but that you need it to be as concentrated as possible.
That sounds like a fun party with one vodka martini for Salty the Seahorse, and one vodka martini for me! We can get pickled together! ;)
HeeHee I like that idea. I’m not sure what the limits are here in PA but the State Store (the name of all liquor stores in Pa since they are operated by the state) is close, so I’ll go and find out. Of coure I have to find a seahorse first and I won’t get my next chance until February. Although I might experiment in the meantime…. :)
In some states you are allowed to buy “pure grain spirits”, which is extremely high-proof alcohol. In other states you need a special license to buy something as strong as that. You might want to ask your pharmacist about ethyl alcohol as well as asking in the liquor store. Like I said, I don’t know which states allow what. If you find out Katherine what is OK in Pennsylvania, let us know, I am curious.
And Pam, yes, a cocktail for you and Salty sounds great! Although preserving a specimen demands straight-up liquor, no diluting! :) In the Caribbean I have used cane spirits to preserve interesting small shells that still had some dead body inside.
As always this blog is the fount of information– thanks to all who responded. I’ve used the sun drying method for sea urchins — with limited success– been creeped out by the ants, luckily the birds left them alone.
Never thought of using salt as a perservative. Great idea though since it is cheap and widely available and should be fairly easy to transport.
I can see the possiblities for alcohol but it would be more difficult to pack (we usually fly) and I’d worry about breakage.
At least I have lots of ideas now. Thanks everyone!
Yes, salt is a great preservative, and like you say, it is cheap and you can find it anywhere. Maybe this is obvious, but you need to used plenty of it, the specimen should be packed in salt, not just sprinkled in salt. And if the salt ends up damp, it should be brushed off and replaced until it gets to the point where it stays dry because the specimen is finally completely dry.
Yup, the sargassum seaweed is back. Manasota Key is covered in it. At least the baby turtles have something to ride on.
VERY COOL find, congrats. They are not easy to find at all. Woot Woot!
I found two on my last trip to Sanibel two Christmases ago. Both were alive. I returned both back to the Gulf but they kept on washing ashore. It seems the two I found were a lot larger than the one you are showing here, different species?
Seahorses are very weak swimmers. They like to live where there is weed that they can hold on to with their tails, so I suppose the waves or currents had knocked them loose and when you put them back in the water they couldn’t swim out far enough to get back to wherever it was that they were supposed to live.
There are at least three species of seahorse that live in the Gulf, maybe more.
I would love to see any seahorse live in its natural habitat! You were very fortunate to see them even if they were washed up.
Hi Pam we are here till Thursday I hope to see you on the beach would be nice to meet you it was your videos that brought us all the way from Texas
Oh soooooo cool!!!! We HOPE to leave TN Thursday to “come on down” – can’t wait!
I also found a seahorse when I visited Captiva Island in June.
Wow! This is impressive! I have never found any seahorse along the coast before although I have a pair, one from my kindergarten Chinese teacher and another from some traditional Chinese medicinal hall… :) they are truly lovely to have in a collection. :) btw, I did try to preserve some of the mangrove seeds that I collected at the beach and they seemed to have succeeded… Sundried for 2 days and although they’re real shrivelled, they still maintain some sorta shape… :)
Pam, your video gave me the goosies! Fantastic find!
Oh! Now I have a new goal for our next trip! I would love to add a seahorse to my collection. I have not had any luck at Bowmans but will be going there for sure.
I actually found a large (a little larger than the length of my hand) true tulip last trip, just laying in a pool under the bridge at Captiva Blind pass. It was such a thrill!
Love the video- made me laugh; good one, Pam! Found my one and only seahorse the very first time I set foot on the Island in 2005. They are indeed rare treasures :)
My husband and I were on Captiva about 25 years ago. We were swimming in the Gulf when something caught my eye. It was a live seahorse, just swimming around! Such a brief encounter, but one I will remember forever. It did seem like a mythical creature, but it was real!
Can anyone tell me why the surf has been so rough the
past few days and why I can’t seem to find any shells? I’m here until Monday and I’ve been to Lighthouse beach, Bowman’s beach and Blind Pass…..all at low tide. I did find 2 keepers at Bowman’s yesterday! But very little to choose from.
What am I doing wrong?
WOO HOO! LOVE – what did you do with it?
you post some amazing things.
i am 12 years old
Hi! I found a large seahorse on Manasota Key in July. He washed up in with the sargassum. Since it was the day before we were to leave I didnt have much time to think of the best way to preserve him. I dried him between paper towels for a few hours and then put him in a dish with liquid resin. Since he wasn’t completely dry I’m worried that he will decompose. We will be going back in October so I’ll find out then. I hope he’s okay! :)
Pam congrats on an amazing find! He is beautiful….I’ve never found one but did find Crucifix Fish at the lighthouse when i was there in July. I was digging at low tide in an area that “looked funny”, black dirt,crushed shells etc. When I started digging the first one popped out and then 5 more as I continued to dig….was I in a fish graveyard? Love all your posts and videos Ive learned so much, Thanks!
I found a sea horse this morning on our museum shelling tour at the Island Inn this morning!!