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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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?
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)
Here is more CORALLINE ALGAE that Heather picked up…
And more that Jodi found…
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!
Pam – I continue to be educated by your posts! Love that you found so many ‘oddities’! :D
What a fascinating post. I never heard of Coralline algae. I don’t know if I’ve seen it before. Is that a carrier shell and a broad paper cockle in the top picture? Now I have to add the Imperial venus to my list of shells to look for and to look closer at the broken shells. I have found only one piece each of a junonia and a lions paw. Hope the shells stay around. Pat
Hi Pat- Yes! You are always so observant- love love love that you look so closely. its a carrier shell and a broad paper cockle- i always love to find them as well. MurexKen had told me something years ago about a pinkish growth called Coralline Algae on some of his shells in The Keys. I’ve seen these type pieces wash up here other times when the north winds blow hard so this time I did more research.
Those bittersweets in the last photo are amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any that large except in books. I think those would get my vote for my favorites in this post. When I find fragments of a shell I’ve never found, I get as excited as if I’d found the entire shell in perfect condition. I’m glad I’m not the only one. :-)
I have a good sized jar with pieces in all shapes and sizes of horse conchs-love the different colors- oranges and creams. Also any size of wormie and even the smallest pieces of junonia are fun to look for :)
I was excited to see that coralline algae in your picture so I could finally find out what it was! :) We found a piece like that when we were down there in early April and I didn’t know what it was — just thought it was neat looking.
I am so impressed with that fabulous valve of the Imperial Venus!!! Well done Pam!!! I would be over the moon to find that!
Pam, I always look for the different, broken, lost souls of shells when I’m there. I think to myself they need to be wanted too. LOL I know I sound crazy but it really is how I think while shelling. And I still haven’t posted my photos from my shelling two weeks ago but I’m still sorting…and talking to my new friends. :)
Pam, I too think the shell fragments are the treasures of the sea. They are like small pieces of art. They have a patina of their own. I always bring home 40 lbs. of them in my carry on piece of luggage and display them in vintage canning jars. It’s nice to know that you like them as well when you are there and in the presence of finding the whole shells. Please keep showing us your “fragment treasures” as well as your whole shells…
I love shell pieces!
So can you tell me how the right valves of the flat shell stand out or are their markings different from a scallop shell? Im just wondering how I’d know it if I was walking on the beach shelling.
Are you doing a Cayo Costa trip in July….got rained out last year so I want to try again!
Thanks for always making your posts so interesting and funny! Always enjoy and learn something from them!
the “flat” right valve flairs out at the shoulders more than the calicos and rough scallops. Audrey found a piece of one and showed it to me because she knew it looked differently that the others. Seriously, I really think you would question it, Denise, if you saw one to keep it to compare it to the one in my previous post that shows the close up. Maybe I’ll do a post this summer to compare all of the scallops…hmmmm that would be a fun one!
Im working on more dates for cruises. I hope to post soon!
I think I found my first imperial Venus around 2 years ago. I think I may have overlooked or even ignored them before that. They’re fairly common over here on the east coast of the state so I’ve since amassed a good number of them in my collection. I love their ‘chunky’ goodness!
ha Okay, Dee! I just replied to LauraM44 that I thought they were easier to find in other areas so please tell us which city you find them in?
Found some down here in Gtmo ;)
I’m in Jupiter, a drinkin’ town with a fishin’ problem ;)
I see this is an older post so hope you see it. First, I grew up in Jupiter, secondly, thank you for identifying the imperial Venus. I found one on Sanibel a few years ago and have been trying to find out what it is. I even looked for it St the shell museum on Sanibel but didn’t find it. Love my shells and lucky to have grown up in Jupiter and live near Sanibel.
Yes please! I’d never seen them before, and through a fluke encounter with some shellers at Pawley’s Island, they showed us one and said it’s “only” found there…….. I kinda doubted that – I mean, how can a shell only be found in one place?! But I Googled it, and sure enough other people call it that too. Just not sure if it’s the same shell, or where else they can be found…..
Pam you posted this at the best time!!
The Imperial Venus….. I need to know, is it the elusive Pawley’s Island shell that some shellers told me about when I was there?? Have you ever heard of it? I’d never heard nor seen it before but I don’t remember it well enough to know whether it’s the same as your Imperial Venus, but it had similar features for sure…..
hmmm i don’t know if its the same shell- I’ve never been to Pawleys island so it may be the same shell. But… this shell is more common in other areas- just not here. I found a fragment years ago (and of course kept it) so I figured I would find a whole valve here one day.
Have done this for years….many pieces of Junonia. ;-))
I am realizing that I have been slighting the bivalves. What is a good book on those? Anyone know? Great informative post per usual.
Marilyn-a good book that I like is “Bivalve seashells of Florida” by Trish Hartman. It’s a trade paperback and should be at any of the bookstores on the island. Pat
So so pretty. Love the little algae ones.
As a snowbird, who is now back in MN for the summer, I am sooooo enjoying your blog. I created a large shadow box of my beach bling 2 years ago for the Sanibel Shell show. ( got a red ribbon too). I love love love shelling and finding bits and pieces of Junonia or Lions Paws or beach glass or anything that strikes my fancy. That can just make my day. Thanks for sharing your treasures!
The Imperial Venus is the Pawleys Island shell. It is such a tricky little devil to find! We caught a one of a kind day after a rare storm that covered the beach with shells in Pawleys Island. My collection of Imperial Venus shells is world class, lolol. One of my best shelling days of all times!!!!