Off the Beaten Path Beach-combing Treasures to Photograph

My son is a creature of habit and whenever we go boating we usually end up in the same places. However, the other day we stopped the boat at a new little island which was off the beaten path. The tide was going out so the beach area got bigger and bigger as the day went on, and I discovered many treasures to photograph.

As is always the case, there were many seashells inhabited by hermit crabs of all sizes. This island also contained lots of living mollusks in comparison to what I usually see.

crown conch, low tide, mud, beach, florida, mud flats, beach combing
Some hermit crabs tip their shells up like this crown conch shell in the sand.

Sometimes hermit crabs will be buried down under the sand inside a shell. Other times they are gathered in clumps just under the water. And recently I’ve noticed that some hermits tip the shell up, like the crown conch in my photo above. I did see lots of hermits, but I’ll save that for another post.

A Promising View From the Boat

As soon as we docked the boat, I could see shells scattered across the sand and two large whitish shells in the water. They turned out to be a Quahog clam and Elegant dosinia. Further down the beach I found a whole, live quahog clam which was big! I usually find these shells already broken open so finding that whole clam was a treat.

The side of the clam that had been sitting in the mud was turning black. I’ve written a post about why seashells turn black. The Dosinia nearly fooled me as I thought it was the other half of the clam – it was so large. Then I found another just under the water. These are the only two shells I brought home with me.

More Random and Interesting Shells Found on the Island

This Shark’s Eye had some nice coloring with a very blue “eye”. A hermit crab was inside.

Beautiful sharks eye moon shell

This lightning whelk was a beautiful and unique pink color with a gray top.

lightning whelk seashell in the wild
Pinkish lightning whelk

This little muddy island was home to many tulips, both banded and true varieties. They were stunning shells in the most gorgeous colors, and always home to a hermit crab.

In the photo below two hermit crabs meet up. One has a crown conch for a home and the other owns a banded tulip shell.

banded tulip shell crown conch hermit crabs

I will be writing a whole page about the beautiful tulip shells I saw on this island. Later in the day we stopped at Three Sisters where I found more awesome wildlife. The following day we did some boating near Ponce Inlet which is also a place to find islands to explore. Those islands are made of hard packed sand without the variety of shells and wildlife, but they are beautiful in other ways.

Once I get home and begin to go through my photos I always wish I’d paid closer attention to each shell. I’m getting into the habit of taking more photos, but it’s hard to tell out on the water how they look. I need to be better about conveying sizes. I’ve packed a pencil to use next time I get photos.

Boating Around The River Islands in May

This week my son and I went boating around the river islands. May is a very good time to go boating in Florida. The water temp has warmed to 80 (or close) and the afternoon thunderstorms are not yet a thing.

I try to get a lot of text into most of my posts, but after being out on the boat for two days, I have so many photos to share. All those photos convert to specific posts about my beach-combing finds, but getting the pictures sized and ready also takes time.

Because I end up with many photos of the landscape, like the ones below, I’m sharing a big block of scenes from the Indian River backwater area. Soon I’ll write more in depth about these boating trips because there is a lot to report. For one thing I found more tulip shells in one place than ever before.

Discovered a New Island to Explore

The water temp was between 75 and 80 depending on where we went. The first day out we stayed in Edgewater and Oak Hill and found a new, low tide “new island” to explore. I found some really awesome marine life here, which I will be writing about!

Then we headed over to Three Sisters where I found more to photograph. That tiny sea star was a fun discovery!

After a while my photos all begin to look the same… mud, water, and mangroves! But each area holds wildlife that is interesting and beautiful. I never know what I’ll find out there.

Day Two and Boating North to Ponce Inlet

On our second boating day we headed north to Ponce Inlet to explore the sandy islands left exposed at low tide. It just happened to be a day when a rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral and we could watch.

Unlike our first day of boating, there were more boats and people. Also, there were fewer seashells and lots less marine life. But the water was a beautiful blue and the islands were hard packed sand instead of mud.

Pictures of Seashells on Beaches

Why is it that we enjoy seeing pictures of seashells on beaches? One guess would be that we dream of walking along a deserted beach, either all alone or with a special love, and come across a fabulous shell. It makes the walk all that much better, right?

The beaches I walk are mostly deserted, but they are along the Indian River, which is saltwater, and they are beaches without waves, unless made by a passing boat, or from storms. I do see lots of shells, in places, but they are not extraordinary like the helmet shell pictured on the beach in the photo below. Most photos online, like the one below, are staged. At least I assume the photographer didn’t just happen to come across this beautiful shell lying on the beach. But it makes for a nice photo.

Photo credit: Quangpraha @ Pixabay

Some beaches have few shells and lots of sand. Others can be mostly made up of shells. I suppose there are places where one can find big beautiful shells that have washed up, but I don’t know where that would be. Big shells are heavy, and the snails that live inside crawl along the bottom of the ocean. It would take a lot to wash that empty shell onshore.

My Photos of Real Shells on Beaches

I took the photo below while walking on a very windy day. The sand was really blowing and shells were being covered and uncovered by the wind. I was walking at Ponce Inlet in New Smyrna Beach.

shells in the sand
The wind was covering, or maybe uncovering, shells along the beach
seashell berm
Shells left by the high tide

In the image above, lots of tiny shells and broken bits have created a little berm at the high tide mark. This was on an island beach in the Indian River. It’s one of the camping islands, but I love to stop here when we are boating to search the shoreline for interesting shells. It’s where I once found two olive shells, a beautiful knobbed whelk, and always see lots of hermit crabs in all kinds of shells.

Below: I do not recall where I took the photo but probably on the dog beach at Smyrna Dunes Park. It looks like a dog print and foot traffic that have walked past, and over, these ark clam shells, which are by far the most common to see on this beach.

cleaning seashells

Photo below is not mine, but is typical of something you’d see walking along a Florida East coast beach.

ark shell
Ark on the beach: Photo credit: Free Photos @ Pixabay
grass on island
My photo: Sea grass and small shells on island near Ponce Inlet
olive seashell buried in the beach sand
This is an olive shell partially buried. It would have been easy to bypass this little shell, which is a rare find where I live.

More Pixabay Free Photos With Shells on The Beach

Visit Pixabay to find these images and more like them.

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