Top Rare Seashell Finds in Florida

junonia seashell
The Rare Find – Junonia

The casual seashell collector gathers whatever looks good as they stroll along the shore, but some people are die hard searchers for that all elusive and fairly rare shell.  Here are three to keep in mind if you visit the Florida Gulf Coast area.

The Junonia (Scaphella junonia) is unmistakable with it’s ivory colored background that is covered with somewhat rectangular spots and splotches. According to my reference book, roughly one Junonia is found each day on Sanibel Island, Florida. This species lives in deep water on coral reefs off shore.

The Lion’s Paw shell (Nodipecten nodosus) is coveted by collectors.  It can be as large as 6 inches across.   Large shells are often what people want.  It’s a scallop shell (see my scallops in the photo below) with bumpy ridges and bright coloring of deep orange or reddish orange.  An outstanding feature of the Lion’s Paw is the widely spaced ridges.   (The common Kittenpaw shell also has wide ridges but is a much smaller shell, and is widely found on some beaches of Florida.)

scallop shells
Calico scallop shells and one cross-barred venus clam – all can be found along Florida shorelines

The pretty little Scotch Bonnet (Phalium granulatum) shell is shaped somewhat like a ball and is lightly colored, in white or cream, with a thick “lip”.   The shell is textured with light horizontal grooves or checks pattern.  The largest Scotch Bonnet shells are no bigger than 4 inches.

The “i love shelling” blog lists these three shells as the Elite Three Shells to find on Sanibel and the writer should know – she lives there – and does a lot of shelling and blogging about her finds.


18 thoughts on “Top Rare Seashell Finds in Florida

    1. I’m working on a job site about 8 miles from the ocean and we are digging a lake about 25 feet deep and I keep finding these old Shell’s. How can I tell or who can tell how old they are? email me at


      1. @Daniel, I have no idea how to tell the age of shells. To find that type of info maybe find a seashell forum where collectors trade information, photos and shells.


  1. Funnily I happen to have a postcard that came a week ago with “Florida Shells” on.
    In the centre is Junonia!
    I have a collection of shells and beautiful stones but mainly from the West Coast of Sweden.


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