i Love to find a shell I’ve never found before! This might look like the regular TOP SHELL that we find on Sanibel fairly often but as soon as I picked this shell up, I knew something was different about it. It’ got a nice sculpture about it, right? Look closely and you’ll see the slightly rounded whorls in the side view. I found a SCULPTURED TOP SHELL!
Here is the SCULPTURED TOP SHELL on the left and our “regular” (to southwest Florida) TAMPA BAY TOP SHELL on the right. Now I can’t just say “TOP SHELL” any more… I’ll have to distinguish which one it is when I see it. Cool!
So when I found my SCULPTURED TOP SHELL, I called Clark over to look at it and showed him the wrack line (which is the same as where I found the BABYS EAR and WENTLETRAP in my last post) at TARPON BAY RD beach access. Not one minute later, he looked down and picked this up…
It’s a SHARKS EYE OPERCULUM! Wow! I know it’s not pretty but I’ve always wondered why we never find them on the beach like we find other OPERCULUMS. This is the part of the MOLLUSK that protects it from predators. It’s a MOLLUSK’S front door.
It looks like a brown piece of SEA GLASS, doesn’t it? Well thats what Clark thought it was too when he picked it up and then we figured it out. Call me a geek but I got so excited to finally find one…. errr… well… that Clark found one. But it still comes home with me so I feel lucky too.
It has the shape and pattern of a BABYS EAR but it is paper thin with a slight curve. Now I know why we dont find many. They are very very fragile once they separate from the MOLLUSK. The edges on both of these are very chipped and ragged and seem like the whole thing will disintegrate any second.
But then he found another one! Dude! We’ve gone forever without ever seeing one and then he pulls out finding 2 of them. Ha!
This past December, I shot a little video of a LIVE SHARKS EYE with his OPERCULUM doing its job of protecting him but I never even showed you because it’s the same day Mimi found her SEAHORSE. The video got lost in the shuffle with all the excitement of the SEAHORSE and then of course, the Christmas holiday. But I have never forgotten what it looked like and I want you to see it too.
Okay, lets go back to the “sculpture” bit…. if you arent as thrilled as I was to finally see what a SHARKS EYE beach washed OPERCULUM looks like, I’ll show you some cool BEACH ART we saw while at Tarpon Beach over the weekend. This artist had quite a sense of humor, man. Funny sculptures!
Super cool finds, and I’m so jealous!! I have several museum quality Naticas but not many operculums for them. I could totally tell that’s what it is. Awesome finds!! Can’t wait to come back to Florida someday and find some great stuff myself. :)
Love the beach art. I found some top shells this year but they were the tampa bay type. Now I have to check the ones I found previous years. I usually don’t pick up the operculums because I didn’t know what shell it came from. The books don’t seem to have info about them. Now if you post pictures i might pick some up.
The “door” is beautiful, even better than sea glass because it is from a living creature. Thank you for all your wonderful posts, it gives me happiness when I cant make it to the water myself….
Great Top find Pam, always something, good eye! The sharks eye operculum are fairly common up here on the New England coast, or I just get lucky?
Did you go to the new island I heard has popped up? See Capt. Brian.
Thank you Pam,
I want my toes to look pretty when I go shelling…..recommend a nice pedi shop?
Cape Nails on Sanibel by MacIntosh books.
Thank you for the pictures and videos related to shelling! I learn something new everyday….didn’t know about the operculum shark eyes covering or maybe didn’t noticed it, when the shell is alive I simply put it back in the ocean, no questions ask. I’ve can’t wait to go back to Sanibel and to go shelling again through the beautiful beaches you have! Bea Valiente
Great finds! Too bad the one in the video has a critter in it.
Once again you have shown us something new. We should always being looking for new things.
See you soon.
Pam, isn’t it great finding the weird stuff!
Pam, thank you for sharing your videos of living wildlife! I get the same thrill from seeing them living as I do from collecting the shell. Love your videos!
I want one of those sculptured top shells.
Leave it to Clark to find not just one but, two operculum.
You go “Super Sheller Clark” I wish I was there.
I have always wondered what a sharks eye operculum looks like…thank you :D
Pam, I really like your Top Shell. I do not have that many, but I am going to have to go back through all of them just in case. Great find!!
Very cool beach sculptures. The artist is quite talented. It brought a much needed smile to my face. I always love it when I find something unexpected like that on the beach. Thank you for all the great things you post.
Pam, Nice find! I have been looking for a sculptured top shell on Sanibel Island for the past 3-4 years, but have not found one. Good for you!
Wow, what a great top shell! Always cool to see something new!!!
Fantastic blog and videos. Hoping to visit Sanibel to gather some shells for myself and wondered if I would have any problem taking them back home to the UK or would they be confiscated at the airport???