Category Archives: Seashells

All about seashells.

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Early Morning Visit to Beachside

This morning I had the urge to drive over to the beach. I live close enough now that I can do it, so I should! But the weather was cool and cloudy so I didn’t go for a walk, just got a few photos on my phone.

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Heading over the causeway to beachside
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27th Ave. parking lot

The parking lots, like this one, now charge people to park there! But, as a resident of Volusia County I can get a Free pass, which I plan to do soon. If the tide is high, I would prefer to park in a lot and not on the beach when I go for my morning walk.

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Sunrise over the Atlantic
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Common Limpet

Found this great nature photography blog by Pete Hillman and he kindly gave me permission to re-blog this post about the limpet. Enjoy, and be sure to visit his site to enjoy his amazing photography. He likes to photograph seashells too!

Pete Hillman's Nature Photography

Patella vulgata

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

Have you ever wondered what the underside of a limpet looked like? Note the large muscular foot, the relatively small mouth above, and the tentacles either side.

The Common Limpet has an ashen-grey or greenish-blue shell, sometimes with a yellow tint, and with radiating ridges. It is conical with an almost central apex. The shell is often covered in barnacles. The sole of the foot is yellowish or orange-brownish with a green tinge. Shell length 6cm. They are fairly long-lived, up to 15 years.

Common Limpet (Patella vulgata)

It inhabits the intertidal zone, clinging tightly to rocks along the shore or in rock pools, and with its thick shell it is able to withstand the pounding ocean waves, exposure to drying out, and attacks from birds or fish. It grazes on algae growing on the rocks beneath the water. It is not ‘stuck’ in one position as it may always appear to…

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What Has the Hurricane Done to Our Beaches?

As I sit here, 20 miles inland from the east coast Florida beaches, I wonder what kind of devastation is taking place over there as Hurricane Matthew passes by.

Here, the wind was howling with gusts of 50-70mph, but we got off easier than originally thought.  My rental house did not blow away as I had feared.  We have minor damage in the yard with limbs broken and the fence leaning.  Now the storm is moving on to the north, and all this wind and rain will eventually die down.

After the three hurricanes in 2004 – Charlie, Frances and Jeanne – I had visited the seashore in New Smyrna Beach to see the damage.  My husband (at the time) and I ate at Breakers on Flagler Ave. and we could see that the sand was all washed away down along the shore.  The ocean was coming up around the place, and the beach ramp was under water.

A few days after our visit, the restaurant was condemned for safety issues.  I remember how the sight of the ocean having taken over the beach was so sad.  So I am thinking that this time I will find a similar situation.  The beaches will have to be re-built.  And what about the sea creatures? How have they fared?

The beaches eventually recovered from the 2004 storms, and they will this time too.  Once the news crews can get beachside, we’ll be able to see the devastation.

Cleaning the Big Horse Conch

While out on the boat the other day, I came across a large, empty horse conch just lying in the sand at low tide. It was a super hot day, and most shells were under water and inhabited by hermit crabs. I was thrilled to discover a big shell that was a keeper!

But it wasn’t pretty. Interesting, for sure, but not pretty. Barnacles encrusted most of the top (spire area) and most of the 10-inch long seashell was covered in black “skin” called periostracum. That info came from my seashell book, “Florida’s Living Beaches”.

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Florida Horse Conch – 10 Inches

I’ve never had such a messed up shell to clean, so I searched for a way to remove the coating and maybe see the shell colors underneath. I began by using my son’s toothbrush and scrubbing at the coating. (He’ll never know – haha, just kidding. Of course I bought him a new one).

At the best shell blog (besides my own, hee-hee) I found that Pam at I Love Shelling had written a nice article (see the link below) about cleaning her horse conchs. She has a lot of shells. She lives on Sanibel Island, where finding awesome shells is a daily thing.  I don’t have that luxury, but we both love collecting seashells and I often refer to her experience to share. We both live in Florida, but she is on the Gulf coast and I am on the Atlantic / east coast where nice big seashells are a rare find.

As of today, the photo below is what my horse conch looks like. The barnacles have been chipped away and some of the periostracum has been removed. After I soaked the shell overnight, the barnacles could be chipped off with a butter knife – it’s all I had. I find that letting the shell dry out makes the brown stuff flaky so I can brush it off. But this process is going to take a while.

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Slowly Making Progress

Pam’s Tutorial For How To Clean Horse Conch Shells contains lots of great information. I notice that her black / brown shell was not totally cleaned up. But she had two others that ended up beautiful.

I may have to invest in some dental tools to scrape mine down. It may not end up very colorful, but I’d love to see what’s under there. If I don’t find any good color, I will leave it outside in the hot Florida sun to bleach white. It will still be a unique shell to add to my collection.

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Aperture, 10-inch Horse Conch

FYI: The animal who lives in, and makes this shell is bright orange! A ten-inch shell seems pretty big to me, but the horse conch can grow to be almost twice as large!

Also, I found a tiny broken horse conch lodged inside one of the crown conchs I collected and you can see pictures of that in my next post.

It’s a Keeper! Found a Big Horse Conch

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Horse Conch
Yesterday, while walking the low tide sands around Three Sisters Islands, I came across a big seashell that was empty! I saw a lot of nice crown conchs, small pear whelks, and a nice big sharks eye shell, but all were occupied by hermit crabs. Until I saw the horse conch, all I had collected were bivalves, which were filled with sand, and not living creatures. I found a ‘giant Atlantic cockle’ which is joined, so I have two perfect, connected halves, and a pretty ‘dosinia’ which is a flat, whitish shell.

We piled into the Gheenoe – three of us – which was a tight fit, and headed out in the heat to do some fishing and island hopping. Being the middle of the week, we had the river pretty much to ourselves. Since the tide was just beginning to come in, there was plenty of exposed sand to explore.

The only types of shells that are abundant are the clumps of oysters which are the bane of boaters. So finding some collectable shells means searching. It was a 95 degree day (actually cooler than what we’ve been having), and even the water was hot – yes, like a hot tub – but I shuffled around the edges of the island in search of something good that was close enough to see and reach. Continue reading It’s a Keeper! Found a Big Horse Conch