pieces of unusual shells of sw florida sanibel

What is your favorite shell to collect? For me, it’s way too hard to choose a favorite but it’s always a happy day when I find a HORSE CONCH (upper left corner pictured above) and a WORM SHELL (the crazy corkscrew shell pointing to the middle in the photo above). But what I really looooove to find and collect are the unusual shells and even fragments of unusual shells! In my last post, I showed you how many beautiful shells folks were finding in the massive shell pile that formed at Blind Pass Captiva over the weekend (which I believe is just about washed completely out now) but didn’t really show you the shells that Clark and I collected.

shell pile with rocks and waves captiva

I say “collected” because we “found” oodles of beauties but we like to bring home the unusual ones or ones that strike a funny bone. The contents of my shell bucket may look a little weird to most folks but to seasoned  SW Florida shellers, these shell fragments might look pretty cool. So instead of showing you all the pretty shells we found, on this post I figured I show you the some of the other things we collect and explain why I kept all of the pieces of shells. We collected lots of QUEEN HELMET fragments (the 6 pieces below the “candy corn”) – I couldn’t believe how many there were. This is not a common shell for Sanibel/Captiva so it just seemed so rare to find so many.

queen helmet pieces

There were lots of LIONS PAW (right top corner) fragments washing in so I figured if I kept them all, it would give me more luck to find a whole one since we only have a handful in our collection. (Btw, I never said all of my explanations would be good explanations- hahaha)

Remember my post about the other side valve of the FLAT SCALLOP? Well I found 3 more pieces! The 2 pieces of SCALLOP halves and the SCALLOP just below them are the right valves of the FLAT. Honestly, I was pretty dang happy to find even the cracked pieces- to me thats way more rare than finding a JUNONIA (errrr… but that JUNONIA is just so pretty its hard to compare the two).

right valve raveneli flat scallop zig zac

The orange fragments on the bottom middle is a piece of THORNY OYSTER – which i feel the same as the LIONS PAW… I just want to collect pieces of them so I will have better luck finding the whole ones- ha! The LETTERED OLIVE (bottom left corner) was a perfect example of the holes that the BORING SPONGE makes in shells.

shell fragments of captiva

So that leaves us with my fave find from that big shell pile. I’ve never found even one side of the IMPERIAL VENUS… until now. Yay! I think I actually pounced like a cat when I saw it!

imperial venus Lirophora latilirata captiva florida

Here is the inside view. I know… it’s still not as pretty as a TULIP but since we have quite a few of those already, why not let other people have those when this makes us so much more happy?

imperial venus clam sw florida

And here’s what has taken me so long to post about our finds… this little porcupine-ish looking shell. It’s not really the shell that formed the nodules on it, it’s a growth on the shell that I wanted to identify. There were quite a few that washed up and everybody asked me what it was… hmmmm. Dunno but I’ll find out!  I still don’t have a positive identification on it yet but I’m very sure that its a form of CORALLINE ALGAE. This is good algae! Coralline algae are of ecologic and economic importance because they provide food and habitats for other sea life. (And dare I say I like them because of their whimsy and color? heehee)

corallinne algae on captiva beach


Here is more CORALLINE ALGAE that Heather picked up…

coralline algae on a seashell of sw florida

And more that Jodi found…

coralline algae sanibel captiva florida


So as much as I love to collect beautiful shells… to see a new species, a freak shell or an unusual piece of beach bling is what keeps me fascinated with all of the mysteries of the sea. Okay, and the fact that they are a feast for eyes!

some of the shells i found on captiva island florida