Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach

Often I will pick up interesting pieces of seashells while beach-combing.  I’m getting better at identifying the pieces.  The more variety of shells I collect, the easier it becomes.  If the bit of shell baffles me at the seashore, I search it out in my favorite seashell book, or look through my seashell collection.

Seashells break for many reasons and some shells are more fragile than others.  The Channeled duck clam is thin and most of them are broken on top.  (It’s the white shell in the left-hand photo below.)

Usually it’s the surf and wave action that tumbles the shell until it breaks.  Birds can be the culprits too.  Whatever the reason, it can challenge the mind to picture bits as whole shells.  Usually I am sorry I missed seeing it as a whole, beautiful specimen.

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While visiting Ponce Inlet, I brought home this large, smooth, brown bit of shell, and a smaller piece like it.  I wondered what it could have been originally.

As I searched through pictures, it suddenly dawned on me. It must be part of a Shark’s Eye. They are smooth and brownish and can be fairly large.

I’ve found whole Shark’s eye shells out on the river quite a few times and I have a few in my collection. I think the best one I have came from the Gulf Coast, Sanibel Island area.

sharks eye and crown conch
A whole Shark’s Eye next to a Crown Conch

This broken bit with deep ridges had me curious for quite a while. After looking through my recently collected shells, I had an “Ah ha” moment. It’s the top section of an Angelwing shell.

angelwing seashells
Angelwings, these are about 5 inches in length, their max length is 6.7 inches – The ones I find are always broken

As I’ve said, I am getting better at figuring out what I collect. Sometimes I remain stumped. The little porous piece below is not a shell, but I am not sure if it’s a piece of coral or something else.  Often I have to search through my seashell book, like the time I found a round, smooth object and had no idea what it was.   It’s the only sea bean I have.

unknown item found on beach
Unknown Item – Coral?

I’ve found lots of Giant Cockle shells – usually when we are in the backwater areas fishing off our boat. When the tide is low, these big heavy duty shells are usually partially buried in the sand.

inside the giant cockle shell
Once cleaned up, the inside of the giant cockle is mauve pink.


Center: Petty worn piece of a giant cockle, or something else?

Hurricane Aftermath Goes On and On For Those in Their Path

After Irma, life changed greatly – for the better – when we found a generator on day 5 of 6 without electricity. I began to re-enter the normal world. We could plug in fans, charge up phones and computers.

This is not my first hurricane. I moved to Florida in 1979 but never really felt the disaster of a direct hit until 2004 when the eye of Charley crossed my path. We were without power for a week, and it was August.

One thing you will realize when you are in the destruction zone is that for you, life stops, and survival begins. The rest of the world gets bored with hurricane photos and moves on to the next big story. You continue to search high and low for ice – the one thing you can’t stock up on, and the thing that everyone needs in this climate.

Ice is Scarce After a Florida Hurricane

My Irma nightmare is over. I have air conditioning, I have a refrigerator that works, although it contains little food.  No more searching for ice, and no more digging through coolers to find something to eat and drink.  I can turn on a fan, and I sleep at night without soaking in my own sweat. My home is not damaged. I am more lucky than many.

If you have never visited Florida, you can’t fathom the tropical heat we deal with here. Continue reading Hurricane Aftermath Goes On and On For Those in Their Path

road closed at bridge by Marina

Hurricane Irma Aftermath of Hot Hot Hot

After watching the slow progression of Hurricane Irma for many, many days we sat inside a boarded up house and waited to see what would happen.  Wind happened, and I know there were tornado warnings. We felt fairly safe with the hurricane shutters up, but the wind went on and on all night and into the next day.

I can’t comment on anything that happened to the US or anywhere else after Irma slammed through because after Sunday night (Sept. 10th) at around midnight, until yesterday, Saturday, the 16th, I was cut off from the world.

Limbs were down and the yard was the typical mess of  branches to haul to the side of the road.  Damage in my area was not all that bad.  We thought the power would be back on quickly.

I work from home, so I rarely left my house. Without power, I could charge my phone from my laptop, but had to reserve the charge to let my far away family members how we were. I still don’t know what path Irma took. That’s how it is when you are IN the hurricane. Once it hits you know nothing but your own small area of life – for days and days… on and on.  It’s like you sink into a new world while the normal world goes on without you.

We did not have a generator. My son works at Home Depot and he said that before the storm, the generators were flying out of the store as soon as they arrived. We assumed we could survive a few days without power and then invest in a generator to be ready for next time.

no power, refrigerator open
Airing out the fridge, eating out of coolers and leaving doors open hoping for a hot breeze – Day 4 without power

Wrong. After about day 3 or 4 – they run together – disgust with the hot weather turns to anger … about everything.   The mind becomes a bit nutty when you sit in your own sweat day and night.

The worst thing for me was the fact that the entire opposite side of the road had power by day 2. And we, just across the street, still sat outside hoping for the slightest of breezes. We watched all our food spoil and spent lots of time searching for ice.  I was mad at my neighbors for living a normal life and being oblivious to the fact that I was not.   I wanted an explanation from the power company.  I saw no reason for my suffering, and their trucks never came near my house.  (I know they were working on it, but at that point it just made me mad.)

I searched through coolers trying to find food, but the heat made me lose my appetite, and all we wanted was to feel cool air and drink a cold drink.   Drinking ice was even more scarce than bags of ice.  Cooking anything on the grill was not appealing in the heat.  Riding around in the car worked for a short time, but we always had to return to the sweltering house. The FPL site told us the power would be on by Sunday – but that was still days away. I seriously thought I might lose my mind by then.

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Finally on day 5 my son had reported that the store where he worked had ONE generator. We rushed over and bought it. We also bought the only window AC unit. By Friday afternoon we were feeling cool air, and we could run fans and hook up the internet. I work online, and hadn’t worked at all in five days.

The store was still out of ice, but my son found a place to get some.  (It’s our secret.)

That night I slept with a big fan blowing on me. We plugged in the fridge, and on Saturday we unpacked our coolers with the little bit of food left. Around noon Saturday we suddenly had power!  I kept expecting it to go back off… but it didn’t.  The AC came on and I had to get used to having electricity to use.  You really do forget that you can turn on a light!

We took a ride over to the coast a few days ago and saw lots of docks along the River which were damaged. The boat ramps and parks were closed.

Photo taken while riding in the car.  We saw lots of sunken, broken and tipped over docks and boat houses.

damaged boat docks
Damaged docks on the Indian River after Hurricane Irma – 9.10.17

Some of the roads were closed at the bridges where I imagine the ocean did some damage during high tide.

road closed at bridge by Marina
Bridge partially closed

Breakers Restaurant looked great, but the beaches were closed.  People parked and walked on, but there was no driving on the beach allowed.

end of Flagler Ave at the beach
The beach was closed
Park and walk onto closed beach at end of Flagler Ave.

So the power is on at my house. It is still not on in many places, and I know what that feels like. Not everyone has a generator either, and believe me, the heat and humidity here in Florida is dangerous when you have to be in it 24 hours a day. September feels nothing like Fall here in Florida.

The beach here looks good. Breakers is still standing. We have a generator and will be ready for the next storm.  But, this storm has been very costly.  We lost all our food from the fridge and chest freezer.  I couldn’t work for 5 days, and we spent about $1,000 on a generator, gas cans, gas, and a window AC unit.

swirling hurricane clouds

Another Annoying Hurricane To Deal With

hurricane Matthew aftermath
Brush piled up along Flagler Ave. after Hurricane Matthew

Last October as I was getting ready to close on my house Hurricane Matthew swept in and put a dent in my plans.  I was literally on the way to the closing when the Realtor got the word that all closings were put on hold until after the storm passed.

Now Hurricane Irma is targeting the entire state.  That is quite rare.  I think it accounts for the massive run on gas, water and generators.  Usually some of us Floridians are spared the brunt of the storm, so only a section of the state has to prepare.  The rest of us watch and see where the storm heads.

This time gas was gone at many places by Tuesday around here.  Any stations with gas had long lines.  More deliveries came, and my two sons were able to get gas after waiting in line.  I’ve waited for gas before, but it was after the hurricane had passed.  It was tough to get deliveries to the stations.  People needed gas for their generators.  At my location, we were without power for 7 days after Hurricane Charlie.

Now, many people are evacuating the state.  There is no place to go to avoid Irma within the state, since the storm is going straight up through.  I wonder where all those people will go.  Many may be coming from Miami, and many are probably tourists who have to cut their vacations short.

I live near the East coast, but not directly on the water.  I am not evacuating.  My son is a firefighter so he will have to go into work for the duration of the storm.  My other son will sit through it with me and our two cats.

This is what we’ve done to get ready.

We don’t have a generator, so we’ve stockpiled ice in coolers.  I’ve also frozen bags of water and been making ice cubes.  I’m filling everything I can find with drinkable water and have 2 big buckets of water for whatever.  We have plenty of food.  Unfortunately we will probably lose some food in the freezer.  That is where a generator would come in handy.  That and running the AC!

But we haven’t even been in this house for a year.  Our money has gone toward so many things, as is the case when you move.  And really, we had a hurricane last year… why another one?  We will have a generator by next summer, since it’s a good investment in this state.

We are on city water, so hopefully we will not be without water for too long.  The heat will get to me, but if we have water, I can cool off a bit.

Stay safe if you live here.  Often these storms surprise us by not being as bad as predicted.  I hope this is the case with Irma.

red crab underwater

A Day on the Indian River Turns Up a New Discovery

We went out on the boat yesterday, my son and I, and ended our day at Three Sisters, which is a group of three islands in the Indian River backwaters. The tide was coming in so there was no sand showing, but it was shallow enough to walk and search for shells.  We were the only ones there until a pontoon boat with a family aboard pulled up as we were leaving.

While walking the shallows, I came across this rather large shell.  It was moving but I could see something red.  At first I thought it was something growing off the side of the shell because the hermit crabs I always see are not red.

seashell under water
Tiny bit of red on this underwater seashell – I’m curious

The shell was moving, as were all the other shells I saw, because they are always occupied by hermit crabs.

Because this one had color, I thought that the conch may still be inside – a living seashell. Some conchs can be brightly colored like the horse conch I once found.  It was difficult to see through the murky water.

red crab underwater
I needed a closer look

Even though the water was shallow it was hard to see exactly what I was looking at. The camera captures a more clear image because in reality I was dealing with moving water. So I had to pick it up and get a better look.

It is seldom ever that I find an empty shell out on the river. Something is always inside. The ends of the shell are always the safest for grabbing so the crab won’t pinch me. And it’s a good thing I was careful because look what I pulled up from the sea!

giant red hermit crab in broken shell in the wild
Giant Red Hermit Crab

I apologize for not having a better, more centered, photo, but it’s difficult to see with the sun glare when taking photos with my iPhone. I have to tip my sunglasses so I’m not looking through them just to see the screen, and even then it’s not clear.  There is no way to see if the image is blurry, so I just hope for the best.  Fortunately these pictures turned out pretty clear.

giant red crab florida
Giant Red Hermit Crab found in the Indian River

In all my time out walking the shallows of the Indian River backwater I have never seen a red hermit crab.  I took a couple of quick photos and put him down.  Usually the hermit crabs I see retreat back into the shell when picked up.  Not this guy… he was bold.  I didn’t want to bother him, so I put him and his broken shell back down. In fact, if his shell hadn’t been broken, so I could see a little bit of his color, I may have passed it by assuming it was just another typical hermit crab.

I had to look this one up when I got home and found some info at TribenWater, where the writer (who is from New Smyrna Beach) says they are native to Florida but “not often seen”.

Then I checked my Florida’s Living Beaches book and found that these crabs live on reefs and are “beached after storms”.
There are no reefs in the Indian River and this red crab must have been far from his home.  His shell looks like an old crown conch, and it was pretty broken.  I’m thinking he must be searching for a new shell to live in.

Anyway, that was my amazing find.  It was such a hot day, and the water had to be 90 degrees.  I’m looking forward to cooler weather.