I grew up in New England but spent most of my life living in central Florida and blog about seashells, beaches, gardening, boating, fishing, hiking, photography, PKD, and my work as a designer at Zazzle.
I move around a lot and try to discover the best in all places I live. Life may be tough, but it's not boring.
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It’s summer in Florida and not my favorite time of year. We go out on the boat about once a week, and it’s been high tide at the times we recently traveled the waterways. High tide means fewer beaches and exposed sand out in the river. The normal places to find big living conchs, like the horse conch, are under water at high tide and more difficult to see.
The shells in my photo above confuse me. Many shells look A LOT ALIKE… So sometimes I am guessing as to the exact name. The flat white shell with concentric rings is probably a Dosinia, but the Tiger lucinia is almost identical looking – except that my reference book says that the underside can be pink and yellow. The shell I found is white underneath – it’s the one with the crack in the shell.
The jingle shells are pretty easy to recognize. Their thin shells remind me of the mineral mica.
At high tide, island beaches become scarce and small, but there are still plenty of hermit crabs scurrying around in their beautiful crown shells, pear shells and shark’s eyes in the shallow water offshore.
My little video here is of a big Tulip shell inhabited by a hermit crab. I don’t know which type of tulip it is because the shell is black and covered with barnacles. This is only one of the many hermit crabs I found near the shore.
This is a screenshot of the temperature where I live at 7:14 in the evening… as you can see it FEELS LIKE 100! So at noon, you can just imagine the oppressive heat… it’s why we don’t go out on the boat all that much these days. The heat and humidity here in Florida is stupid. And there is little relief when evening arrives.
Being right on the water means a sea breeze can cool things off, and my favorite time to visit the beach is later in the day. I don’t live on the beach, but I live close enough to visit any time.
However, I do look forward to Fall, when it will be less crowded and less humid on and near the water.
The lightning whelk seashell is one of my favorites, with it’s stripes and long shell opening. It can grow to quite a big shell also. I have seen many of these shells, and have some in my collection, but this is the first time I have found a live mollusk inside a lightning whelk shell.
I have a little video below.
This shell had a particularly white spire – top swirl – and there was no hermit crab inside. Honestly, I had expected to see one when I found the shell moving around on the soft sand of the river bottom.
Our trip to New Smyrna Beach today told me that summer is here. Kids are out of school, and trips to the beach pick up. Tourists are free to bring the family and they certainly do. All those white bodies, with red sunburned shoulders, are a sure sign that tourism is booming here in Florida. This is Friday morning for Pete’s sake.
We wanted to go out on the boat, but the ramp we usually use was full. No place to park the boat trailer. We checked out a couple more, but they were very busy too. Friday is the new weekend it seems. With many companies going to a 4-day work week, it might be best to avoid going out on Fridays as well as weekend days. Since we were dressed for outdoors, sunscreen and all, we decided to go to the beach. We took the boat home and headed over the causeway.
We drove on at Flagler Ave. right behind a lifeguard / beach patrol truck. And it was crowded. We drove way down toward the jetty, and found a more sparsely populated spot to park.
The tide was way out and going out further, so we had a lot of beach. Right away we saw Ghost crabs scurrying around. At least I think they are called Ghost crabs. One, in particular was near us, and I got some photos and video of him.
Then we went in the water. As I was coming back in from cooling off, I saw my son pulling a fishing line up out of the sand. Many people fish along the shore, and this was a piece that had been left / lost by a fisherman.
But at the end, buried beneath the sand, was this huge hook!
Hey… this is why I wear beach shoes when I go in the water! Look at the size of that hook. I hate fishing on the beach, for precisely this reason. My son always does it – fishes at the beach – but I am opposed. There are many other places to fish. Leave the beaches to the swimmers. Imagine that thing stuck in the bottom of your foot… I feel woozy just thinking about it.
Unrelated in every way, but just in case someone has to really go to the bathroom… port-a-potties are at the exit. FYI everyone.
If you read this blog, you have probably grown tired of me talking about hermit crabs, but here I go again! Usually I am complaining that every awesome shell I come across out in the backwater is inhabited by a hermit crab.
This time I am going to tell (and show) you just how crazy things can get when hermit crabs fight for those seashell homes. It’s a crab vs. crab world down under the sea.
First of all, if you know next to nothing about crabs, here’s a bit of info.
Hermit crabs are not like regular crabs you find along the beach. We don’t eat them. Regular crabs scurry across the sand without taking their home along on their back. It’s difficult to ever see the entire body of the hermit crab, as it is usually hidden within a shell. A hermit crab will “hang” out of the shell sometimes (like in the photo above), but he will not come all the way out. If you are lucky enough to be present when he swaps his old shell for a new one, you can get a quick glimpse of the back end of his body.
That shell it carries with it used to belong to a snail – land, or marine. The hermit crab did not make the shell he lives in, and will stay in it only as long as he fits well inside. Once the fit is too tight, he will have to find another shell to occupy. His life depends on it. The shell will have to be already empty… they don’t kill snails or mollusks to take a shell. And they don’t fight other hermit crabs that are already inside a shell.
Imagine that your present home will have to be abandoned as you grow. You can’t stop growing, so it’s a constant hunt for a new place to live. Without a shell to hide in, a hermit crab’s life is in peril.
In this NatGeo video, deceptively entitled “Hermit Crab vs. Conch”, a large Horse Conch chases down a tulip snail (banded tulip) and digests it. But the main story is about the hermit crabs who need to find new and larger real estate for their growing bodies. They realize that the horse conch will spit out the left over shell when he’s done eating the snail and they all want that house!
Did you see the shells those hermit crabs are scurrying around in? One was a pear whelk (yellow shell), and one was a shaped like a shark’s eye, or moon snail.
Here’s another amazing video of a hermit crab changing shells, but this one takes her “friends” with her! Smart creature! (This shell looks like some kind of knobbed triton.)
You may wonder why the crab doesn’t just find a big shell to live in so he won’t have to worry about trading out his home. That won’t work because if the shell is too big, he can’t carry it around as easily.