Quiet Day On The Boat

A hot and beautiful day on the boat took us to a remote river island, a stop in the ocean, and then to Ponce Inlet.

We chose a hot, sunny day to take a much needed boat ride. It had been a while. But, this day was very hot with a heat index over 100. The water temperature was around 87 and felt very nice, but not very refreshing.

The first stop was a little place along the Indian River. We’ve been here before. In fact it is the place I saw my first and only spider crab.

Anchored boat at shallow beach on Indian River

I did some beach exploring and took photos of what I found. See the shells, a live crown conch, and one feather, in the slideshow below. Every shell, except the crown, had a hermit crab inside.

  • shiny sharks eye seashell
  • muddy tulip shell
  • hermit crab gathering
  • faded banded whelk shell
  • shell under a bigger shell
  • beach view with shell in sand
  • faded lightning whelk on sand
  • living crown conch sea snail
  • sharks eye shell with hermit crab
  • gray mud caked whelk shell
  • muddy whelks
  • hermit crab walking
  • feather on beach

Took a trip to Ponce Inlet

We don’t often boat up to Ponce Inlet, but my son likes to take our 18 foot flats boat out into the ocean! It is not an ocean-going vessel and is made for shallow backwaters, so I’m never happy about this. We only go just off the end of the inlet and only when it is calm.

The ocean water is a pretty deep blue, and we just sat and enjoyed floating. The photos make it look very calm, and it was, but there were swells. It was hot, as I have mentioned, but swimming in the ocean from the boat, is out of the question. There is no way to get back onboard.

boat in the ocean
In the ocean

After our quick ocean trip, we went back inshore and followed the channel around by the lighthouse and ended up at a sandbar.

Ponce Inlet Florida lighthouse from water

Anchored at a Sandbar by Ponce Inlet

These sandbars by the inlet are party places and fill up on the weekends. A deeper channel runs along behind the shallow area and it’s how we get to the island. The sandbar has some calm, clear, pools (and I took a dip) but the water behind the boat is running with the tide. A swim in the channel is nice too because it’s deep and at certain times, the water here can be very beautiful. This is a great place to take the kids, and everyone brings their dogs! We met up with some friends here a while ago.

  • Hewes boat anchored in shallow water
  • sandbar shallow water anchored
  • boat anchored near Ponce Inlet
  • people and boats on sandbar
  • view across the shallows

We had a nice day and managed to keep cool between dips in the water and the wind from traveling. Luckily we get to go boating during the week so there are no crowds.

me sitting at inlet beach

More stories from the blog…

Gorgeous True and Banded Tulip Shells

Tulip shells can be some of the prettiest I ever find, but I rarely find them! Then, the other day when we boated up to a new (for us) little sand bar, it turned out to be the ‘island of tulip shells’.

Tulip snails can be found all around the coastline of Florida, or just about. The tulips are elongated shells which are similar in shape to the Horse Conch but don’t get as large. They are all “spindle” shells. The top and bottom of the shell is long with a rounded center part. Horse Conchs are bumpy at the top whereas Tulips are smooth.

True tulips, like the one pictured here, grow larger than the banded variety and they have less distinct horizontal bands. Both types have beautiful splotches of color that can be gray, brown, orange, pink or maroon.

I spotted this beauty and moved in for a closer look.

The big tulip was moving (because a hermit crab was living inside) against the flow of the water quite fast. Mollusks move slowly, so I knew it was a crab that had taken over. I called my son over to see the shell and the crab just kept moving along. He wasn’t bothered at all by our approach!

True tulip barnacles hermit crab
A large hermit crab moves this Tulip shell along just under the surface

My Super Short Video of This Hermit Crab in a Pretty Tulip Shell

Even covered in barnacles, this True Tulip coloring was hard to miss. The maroon and pink colors were just stunning and the shell is quite large. True Tulip’s grow to be 5 inches according to my reference book, but this one is at least six inches long.

true tulip, seashell, pink, maroon, barnacles,
Large true tulip shell

Top and bottom of the True Tulip

This masterpiece of a seashell has pretty blue-green coloring inside. I did not notice this until I looked at my photos! I was careful how I held this one because that hermit crab was big. Usually the hermits stay tucked up inside, but sometimes I find a brave guy who likes to come out. I wasn’t taking any chances.

large true tulip shell with barnacles

True tulips will eat banded tulips! There is no mercy in the animal kingdom.

A Beautiful Dark Banded Tulip Shell

On the same muddy island I also came across this gorgeous banded tulip. Banded tulips are generally smaller than the True type and the bands are clearly seen. The dark coloring is striking and a hermit crab was tucked up inside.

The banded tulip below is partially covered by hardened sand. The elements of salt and sun can do some damage. And then there are the barnacles that will attach themselves in clusters. When I find shells like this there is always something living inside so I move the shells as little as possible to get photos.

With a whole island to explore, I gave each sighting a bit of time and moved on to see what was coming next. On this day, there turned out to be a whole lot to see. In fact, I rarely find Tulip shells at all. But, as you can tell, this day was different. None of them held the snail that made the shell, which was unfortunate.

Also view the Shell Guide pages at Bailey Matthews Shell Museum to see more about this marine snail.

tulip shell crown conch hermit crabs

Keep Reading the Blog…

Quiet Day On The Boat

A hot and beautiful day on the boat took us to a remote river island, a stop in the ocean, and then…

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.

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