Tag Archives: Collecting

ark shells

The Secret to Collecting Seashells You Will Want to Keep

collecting seashellsBeaches everywhere have sea life and seashells, but some beaches are better for collecting seashells than others.

The secret to collecting seashells you will want to keep, and display, is twofold. First, figure out what it is you are looking for, in general. Do you want a great big fabulous shell for the coffee table or mantle? Or, are you looking for a bunch of shells to use in a craft project? Maybe you dream of finding a whole sand dollar, or you need more cockle shells for a picture frame.

There are shells that are very common and others that are rare finds. Some people search for years for that special junonia or lion’s paw or other coveted shell. Every vacation to the tropics is partially spent eyeing the beach sand and snorkeling in hopes of getting lucky.

The shell must not be occupied, which further narrows down the availability.  Taking seashells that are inhabited is usually against the law. Often empty shells become a home to hermit crabs or some other sea creatures which move in after the mollusk dies. You can’t collect those either.

various Florida seashells
Seashells collected from Ponce Inlet beach

Obviously if you want to collect special shells, sand dollars, starfish and sea urchins, you should know where to go to find them. There are no guarantees, but it’s a good idea to search where there is a greater possibility of success.  Know the laws of the area before you collect anything.

Don’t spend all your time searching at the waters edge. Shells wash up with the tide, so check out the dune area for shells left behind after high tide.

cone shells
Olive Shells

Do your research when planning a vacation, or traveling to a nearby beach. The west coast of Florida is known for it’s wonderful beachcombing opportunities. The Keys also have an abundance of shells, and the water is so clear that it may be the perfect place to easily find a beautiful specimen.

Don’t overlook the small shells either.  They can be quite striking as well. Even bits and pieces that belonged to large shells are interesting finds. It’s best to just enjoy the variety and hope for something extraordinary. That’s the fun of shelling.

Collecting and Buying Real Sea Glass

sea glassCollecting your own sea glass assures you it’s real, but buying on line may give you pause. Is that necklace (with the hefty price tag) made of the real thing?

I may have come across sea glass during my treks to the ocean, but I never paid much attention to it. The kids and I collected seashells only.  Jelly fish and horseshoe crabs that had washed up on the beach were interesting, but I don’t recall finding any pretty, worn glass.   But there are collectors of sea glass, and they know what to look for.  Just like seashells, certain ones (colors) are rare, and therefore demand a higher price. Continue reading Collecting and Buying Real Sea Glass

Venice Beach is the Place to Find Shark’s Teeth

sharks teeth mouth skeletonThe shoreline at Venice Beach, on the Gulf coast of Florida, is known as the best place to find shark’s teeth.  I have never visited this beach, which is located about halfway along the west coast, but my kids would have loved to collect sharks teeth there.

Just like beachcombing for good seashells, you will find more sharks teeth after a storm comes through.  The teeth are fossilized remnants of the large creatures that died some time ago.  Eventually the teeth make their way to shore, usually in rough water.  As sharks are abundant in the warm Gulf of Mexico, so are their teeth.  And we all know that sharks can have many rows of teeth, losing them over a lifetime.  This also adds to the large number of teeth deposited on the ocean floor.

Now here is something interesting that I came across.  You can also hunt for shark’s teeth in freshwater rivers in Florida!  I’m going to give you a link to a page that will tell you why, but briefly it is because all of Florida used to be under the ocean.  There are safety factors involved when you do anything in fresh water, one of them being cottonmouth snakes and the other is, of course, alligators.  Florida fresh water areas are not inviting – not to me anyway.  Florida is full of creepy, and deadly, wildlife, but the bodies of fresh water are the worst!  Read more about this challenging way to Hunt for Shark’s Teeth in Rivers (Shark Teeth Store website).  The article link is to a site which also sells shark teeth, in case you are interested in buying.

Personally, I would stick to the beach to find my shark’s teeth, but the more adventurous could find some nice specimens in and around rivers.  Diving and snorkeling could yield some terrific artifacts.  And while you’re looking for teeth, keep your eyes peeled for other fossils.  Because of the nature of the beach, with it’s tides and storms, each day contains the possibility of finding something new.  Once you have that special tooth, wrap it in wire and hang it around your neck proudly.

(Photo credit: PubicDomainPictures @ Pixabay)

disc dosinia seashells

Where and When To Find The Best Seashells?

Most people love to find and collect seashells. The “best shells” is a relative term, as it may mean different things to different beach-combers.

I’m lucky to live in Florida where a beach is always close by. The West coast is the place to search for beautiful shells, and probably the Keys too, but I do find some cool shells on the East coast where I live. The truth is that I find the best shells while out boating.

The best place, in general, in the state of Florida, to find beautiful and unique seashells would be Sanibel Island and the surrounding area.  I would also include any islands away from shore where there are fewer shell-seekers to compete with.

The best time, in general, to search for keepers would be at low tide or after a storm.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.18.43 AM
Sea greenery shows where high tide was

I’ve never done any shell collecting just after a big storm, but I’ve read blogs where people have found loads of particular shells washed up on the beach. I have come across shells far up on the beach, or tucked under roots of trees where they were shoved by the force of storm waves.

Anything sturdy and possibly buried in the sand can be moved with the extra-high tides and large waves that erode areas, especially after hurricanes. I am usually too busy dealing with the after effects of the hurricane to go out and collect seashells.

What does “best” Mean to you?

Shells I consider to be the “best” are the ones I come across less frequently, like these flat dosinia shells.

disc dosinia seashells
Disc Dosinia Seashells

The best shells to find are the more rare ones. Big beautiful gastropods, like the pink conch, horse conch, and helmet shell (pictured below), can also be categorized as the best.  Good luck finding an empty one in good shape.

Helmet seashells
Helmet Shells (photo credit: Skeeze at Pixabay)

 

It depends on what you hope to find. Sometimes tiny shells can be special as well. I once came across some little Marsh Periwinkles which I’d never see before.   I was walking around an island near Ponce Inlet and found three of them just lying in the sand.  My Seashell ID book tells me this type of shell is not commonly found in my area, but can be found further north. They were empty so I took them home.

Wherever you plan to be while vacationing in Florida you are certain to find some interesting specimens along the beach. Be safe (the sun is a killer here) and know the rules when planning a trip.

Sea Biscuits On Sanibel Island?

Sea biscuit sand dollar
Large Sea Biscuit

I recently had a reader ask me if the treasure she found along the beaches of Sanibel, Florida was a Sea Biscuit. I have a couple of sea biscuits, which are puffy sand dollars, but I didn’t find my large one, I bought it at a shop years ago. I may have found the small one, but don’t remember.

Anyway I really don’t know much about the sea biscuit so I checked with my favorite shell blogger, Pam at the “i love shelling” blog and she had one page, with lots of cool photos, of many things, but no sea biscuits. Pam lives there and goes shelling most every day (how lucky is that?) and she also mentions that she hasn’t found any Sea Biscuits on Sanibel. According to her they are found in the upper Florida Keys.

She does have photos of “potato” or “heart” urchins on the beach.
You can visit that page here.

Do you have any info to add about the Sea Biscuit sand dollar? Leave a comment to help us out please!

For more on Sand Dollars:
The Sand Dollar

Visit Pam’s wonderful blog about shelling on Sanibel Island:
i love shelling