Good things in life aren’t always obvious. Arriving to dreary, overcast skies on the beach of a year-long planned vacation destination might be disappointing for some folks. Then after coming up empty handed after an hour of searching for those large gorgeous TULIPS, CONES and WHELKS you’ve read all about… the disappointment could get even bigger.
When I’m on the beach and I hear “This is my vacation and the shelling has been so disappointing”, I stop… look at the beach…. look at the water… and I look at every lovely thing surrounding me on the beach as I stand there in a tee shirt, shorts and flip flops. I don’t know, but my eyes must just see more blue peeking out of the clouds in a beautiful landscape. I also see a beach filled with shells as far as my eyes can see. I see this…
Then everything else in the world disappears when I look at this beach combing playground. Wait! Did someone just say to me “There are no shells”?
There may be crushed shells and sea weed but I never look at that as a bad thing. To me, that’s what makes shelling so much fun! Maybe because I looooove to play games and I love to learn and respect the rules of games to make it more challenging. The way I see it… Mother Nature is playing the Shell Game with me. Each hour of each day, Mother Nature has hidden little shells and treasures in different places on the beaches and I have to find them.
Aha! Hidden in a line of beached SEA GRASSES, I found you little LETTERED OLIVE, APPLE MUREX and sweet tiny TULIP!
Weehoo! Thank you, Mother Nature, for slowing me down to pick up that OLIVE and MUREX so I could refocus my eyes to see those BUBBLE SHELLS, SPARSE DOVE SHELL and that awesome WENTLETRAP that were only inches away.
Then inches from that WENTLETRAP I saw a beautiful little honey hole of minis. Well… everything is relative, isn’t it? This is what I call “beautiful” so maybe you will too in the next CYBERSHELLING photo. Click on this next image to see if this might make you happy even on an overcast, dreary day. I do believe it will!!
It’s not so dreary after all, right? Those little things in life are things we need to focus on some times.
They will lead us to the more obvious beautiful things.
Thank you so much Mrs. Rambo for this post and all the cybershelling photos! There were sooooo many minis, especially Bubble shells, in them that I almost squealed :D I love the big shells a lot, but finding a nice patch of mini shells is so wonderful also! Me personally, I just love every single shell that I find, big or small.
me too Yaroslava… me too.
I love to find those little honey holes where the minis are hiding! Thanks Pam for reminding us that there’s beauty even in a dreary day on the beach! There’s always something to find to get excited about!
Janice from GA/SJC (St James City)
Minis are my favorite! I use them to make crafts Also, I keep a saucer with different species in it. When I’m missing the beach, I pull it out and look at my minis. Makes me happy and relaxed!
Pam, did you “plant” those shells in the first photo in this post? Because I would *LOVE* to come upon & discover those shells! Even tho they’re small, they’re wonderful!!!
Hi Kaye, I took that photo after I dumped those lovely gems out of my hand on to the sand. Those are the ones I found in the different “hiding” spots. Thats why I showed you all of the other pics because they ARE wonderful- one find at a time…. but Im afraid that when people don’t see them all together sitting perfectly on the sand like that (or how I arrange them), they don’t think they are as special.
On the way back to my car, I ended up seeing the guy that said “I drove all the way to Sanibel for dreary skies and no shells”… I gave him my shells (minus the wentletraps- heehee) and suggested to him to look for things that aren’t always so obvious. He might find things that are even more lovely than he expected.
We visited last spring. On our last day there, I took a picture of my feet in all those broken shells. Well just the other day I did a little cyber shelling of my own! Lo and behold what did I see! A mini whelk, maybe a pear whelk! And I just walked away! If you don’t look, you won’t find them!
Oh Sandy, I love that! Even though you walked away, you still captured that moment… which I’m sure was a lovely moment even without seeing those minis. Mother Nature has a way of teasing us into wanting to come back to see her next magic show.
I actually cried the day we left Sanibel. I had no idea how much I would love it. I’ve lived in the desert my whole life and as soon I got out of the car I felt like I was where I was meant to be. I feel homesick for a place I’ve never called home. But as for shells, I noticed that even though I studied your pictures over and over, it wasn’t until I saw them for myself that I knew what I should be looking for. Does that make sense? Once I saw one Wentletrap, touched it, studied it, noting its size, then I found more. Same thing with Bubbles and Baby Ears! It wasn’t until I left Sanibel and we were at Siesta Keys that I happened to find a Baby’s Ear. How many did I walk past on Sanibel? I think we all want to come home with that HUGE Lightning Whelk of our dreams but that may not happen! The best part is the search! The smell of the air. The warm sun on your skin. The feeling that you’re in a magical place. You may not go home with the shell you were looking for. But you will be leaving with much more than that!
Life’s small pleasures are around us all of the time, if we will just take a moment to look for them and notice them.
Every hour on the beach is definitely a fantastic hour in my book, rain or shine!
More even than that, a NYC cab driver once wisely told me, “Every day is a good day as long as you are not six feet under”.
Pam, such a perfect post–our flight just landed, and we’re in the car heading for the Causeway! I can’t wait to go looking for some of those minis. It’s an unusual circumstance that we get to come down twice–we were just here at Christmas. People were saying the same thing; I found over 20 wentletraps! I had found a grand total of 2 prior to that visit. Perspective is everything. Life really IS good (especially in those wrack lines…)
after our fun trip to big hickory I thought lets go to Sanibel and check out the lighthouse beach well cloudy ,windy, cold and found four nice keepers so I went back to little hickory and later that day low and behold whelks olives a murex,bubbles and a small banded tulip all right on our beach but unexpected and when I remembered that I love shelling and it has no time table you just enjoy the moment and keep your eyes open because mother nature works in funny ways. shelling is a way of life and I love it .sincerely r.g.stein
Pam, I So agree with your outlook regarding beach combing! Your positivity and appreciation for it all is inspiring and motivating! As in all things in life, the same holds true in beach combing– Gratitude changes everything:)
Last Tuesday I brought my friend who has never shelled to Gulfside. We were there for 9 wonderful hours. She found a perfect orange horse conch, snatched it from the water. When our backs couldn’t stoop any longer, we sat in the piles on the beach, found beautiful olives, turbans, whelks, murex, bubbles minatures everywhere.
As always, we met lots of wonderful folks along the way! It was a far cry from the -8 degrees in Michigan that week….
Wednesday we went to Big Hickory, she was the only person to find a sand dollar! There were plenty of goodies to be had!
Pam, Anyone that comes down there on vacation and complains about ANYTHING should be slapped lol I would live under the bridge in a tent if I could. Sanibel is my *DISNEYLAND*, the happiest place on earth for me. I carry a pill case full of wentletraps in my purse because they are my favorites and the thrill is in finding those little suckers. Thanks for all you do to help us northerners get our rays of sunshine on the gloomiest of days … :)
Counting down to our visit next week and looking forward to the treasure hunt! Where was that wonderful mermaid? Is it recent or from the archives?
Hi Betty- If you look back at the landscape pics, you will see how far away from the lighthouse I was shelling. The mermaid was right there pretty high on the beach out of the way from tidal waters. If it doesn’t rain hard, you might get lucky and still see her!
When at the beach, every day is a good day. Especially when you only get there 1 week a year.
Truer words have never been spoken. Just the joy of being there is enough.
One week from today, I will be arriving in Captiva from Cleveland, Ohio. I CAN’T WAIT!!! This will be my third visit to the area and one of the reasons I keep coming back is because of the fabulous, whole shells everywhere on the beach. I’ve never seen anything like it! I’m an artist and Sanibel/Captiva inspire me more than I can possibly express.
The first time I came down was during last February and temperatures were below zero in Cleveland. Mainly, I just wanted to get away from the cold to somewhere warm and not infested by partying young people. What ended up happening was serendipitous. I found a place that was so beautiful, it made me gasp repeatedly in delight.
In fact, the inspiration and the basic parts of my art were right there, lying everywhere on the ground!!! Who knew??
any day is a good day at the beach-it’s all in your personal perspective. That being said,I have fallen in love with the minis-I love looking around the tide line for those little surprises!
I am willing to bet the complainers are not followers of your wonderful website or they would have found many treasures. I spent a cold, windy morning at Gulfside on January 8th and had the best shelling ever at low tide. I only lasted 3 hours due to the cold and no more dollar bills to feed the machine. My bucket had over 2 dozen tulips, lots of nutmegs, murexes, turbans, olives and more. Of course, I am sharing with Shellotte. I also took some great pictures of sea life that I treasure. I would have loved to find some wentletraps but instead picked up my silver wentletrap at Sealife By Congress that they made especially for me. I ordered it in October using my certificate from the Big Hickory cruise. The size I wanted was only available in gold but the lady called the jeweler who said he would make a mold for silver. Those people are so accommodating and friendly. It was given to me in a lovely cardboard box attached to a sea blue ribbon.
Oh Diane- yes the great folks at Sealife By Congress are amazingly accomodating but YOU my friend are amazingly sweet so Im sure they would have done anything for u.
Thank you, Pam! Right back at you!
Well said Pam!
The beach is a beautiful place. There is always something fun to see and find.
Anxious for my next trip!
11 more days!!!!!! I will be there. I try not to focus on the wait or I just couldn’t stand it. I agree there is always something to see including the birds. You just have to start looking for something different. This will be our fourth year. Each year the shelling has been different.
I have 15 more days before we will be on Sanibel. So, excited to go shelling with Pam. Whether I find many shells or not, any day I can spend on the beach is a good day.
Maybe I’ll run into you Mary Ellen.
Enjoyed lunch! Agree that every day is a shelling opportunity! Many minis coming in at Lighthouse. Sunnye had 18 wentletraps at the low tide line yesterday! Tusk shells by the dozens!
I, too, love the beach any day of the year. Each day is different and sometimes you have to look a bit harder to find the gems but isn’t life a lot like that as well?
This was one of my favorite of your posts. There is so much to see at the beach. Always something. When the big shells are not there the minis are always fun. Shelling is a treasure hunt.
i loved this post since I visit Sanibel to find those small treasures. Although some visits may be better than others, there are always some gifts to be found. I can’t wait to return.
Finally!..got my husband hooked on shelling!! He’s ALL ABOUT the small shells! We have a huge table covered with ‘kitten paws’!!
And….I found a lovely olive today!
I firmly believe that a bad day for the beach is a good day for shelling. I have been out on the beach with an umbrella gathering shells and watching the creatures. Also even if I am not seeing shells there are always trails in the sand that seem to be messages from the living shells explaining their lives.
In nature there is always something to find and something to learn if we just open our eyes to see them.
Those folks who complain about “no shells” were probably the kids that sit among a pile of toys and say they are “bored -there is nothing to do”. Whiners are always going to be whiners – send them to the shell shops where they are guaranteed to find shells. P.S. I would have given them my shells too. I just sound mean. I will be there Thursday. Happy Dance!
Lovely post Pam, in so many ways. Your words and pictures are a beautiful reminder that there is always something wonderful to be seen and found at the beach. For me, no matter what the weather and shelling conditions are, I always leave feeling renewed and thankful for the time spent there. Thank you for the mini cybershelling Pam, so much fun and a great stress reducer, as always!
Just arrived home this morning from a week at Sanibel & Ft Myers. Filled a plastic shoe box with incredible shells. My best find was a absolutely beautiful alphabet cone. My shell net pulled up a lot of beautiful shells from the water where the “dip” is and all the beautiful shells are caught.. I stand in the water and face the beach and scoop away. Tried Blind Pass (both sides), Tarpon Bay and the Lighthouse too. Water was perfect temp and the sun was warm. Also had luck with sand dollars at Ft Myers Beach too. Even saw some starfish (alive) as well. Can’t wait to go back sometime!
Dear Disappointed beach combers,
Don’t give up…. patience will bring your GIFT FROM THE SEA.
Conditions must be perfect for the BIG OLE SHELLS to appear,
just like the atmospheric conditions must be perfect for
the elusive GREEN FLASH to thrill us at sunset!!
On Captiva, one week before my 62nd B.D. I was finally wowed
by a BIG OLE GREEN FLASH. :)
So true, Pam!
I love the little teeny shells. :)
Thanks for this post! I just shelled in the starting rain on Jan 12th at Honeymoon Island (was cleaning my shells yesterday) and then in dreary weather Saturday 17th at Little Talbot state park…..great finds at each (only regret is I didn’t get to spend long enough…so until I get to Florida again, thanks for the cyber shelling! dreams of a trip there!
PS the mini’s are the best finds anyway!
Is there a “better” place to start looking on Little Talbot? Never been there, but plan to stop next week on our way to Okeechobee. I love shelling wherever there’s a beach. Thank you.
I love our what’s become our annual President’s week vacation here on Sanibel, most especially because of the shelling. It does seem like this year is much different than the last few, and I was curious whether you thought the same or whether you had any insight into what might be effecting the types of shells available. We’re on the gulf side, same place every year, and usually low tide brings a wide range of mid-to-large size shells. Each year there seems to be some trending shells, too. This year, I haven’t seen any conches, tulips, welks …. or most anything else i’ve come to expect. Only found one olive, which are my favourite.
had thought with these dramatically low tides I’d have seen great living sealife.. but I’ve seen nothing like last year. Curious whether anyone would have ideas as to what might effect these…
Don’t take my comments as being ungrateful of the shells that are here, or disappointed in the hunt… I’m just surprised and curious about the change. any thoughts?
One more big low tide this week, so I’ll be dragging out of bed to try again tomorrow… at yet another beach…
I can understand someone’s disappointment in not finding shells and your photos and encouragement were right on Pam. I would add to not give up. Try different places at different times. One time we came to Sanibel and really were not finding the shells. My nephew suggested Blind Pass but I told him we had just been there yesterday and there were very few shells. He convinced me to go and it was shelling nirvana. There were so many!! You were actually there that day Pam. We filled a few pails and after a few hours, the shells were gone. Not sure if it was the wind or tide or both. The other advice I would give is for folks to read your tips about shelling. You really are an expert and helped this native Floridian find shells in ways I had never seen or considered before.