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) can be as large as 6 inches across. It’s a scallop shell with bumpy ridges and bright coloring of deep orange or reddish orange. The ridges are wider than what is usually found on other scallop shells, and the shell can also be much larger. (The common Kittenpaw shell also has wide ridges but is a much smaller shell, and is widely found on the beaches of Florida.)
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.