The casual seashell collector gathers whatever looks good as they stroll along the shore, but some people are die hard searchers for that all elusive and fairly rare shell. Here are three to keep in mind if you visit the Florida Gulf Coast area.
The Junonia (Scaphella junonia) is unmistakable with it’s ivory colored background that is covered with somewhat rectangular spots and splotches. According to my reference book, roughly one Junonia is found each day on Sanibel Island, Florida. This species lives in deep water on coral reefs off shore.
The Lion’s Paw shell (Nodipecten nodosus) is coveted by collectors. It can be as large as 6 inches across. Large shells are often what people want. It’s a scallop shell (see my scallops in the photo below) with bumpy ridges and bright coloring of deep orange or reddish orange. An outstanding feature of the Lion’s Paw is the widely spaced ridges. (The common Kittenpaw shell also has wide ridges but is a much smaller shell, and is widely found on some beaches of Florida.)
The pretty little Scotch Bonnet (Phalium granulatum) shell is shaped somewhat like a ball and is lightly colored, in white or cream, with a thick “lip”. The shell is textured with light horizontal grooves or checks pattern. The largest Scotch Bonnet shells are no bigger than 4 inches.
The “i love shelling” blog lists these three shells as the Elite Three Shells to find on Sanibel and the writer should know – she lives there – and does a lot of shelling and blogging about her finds.
Children are just naturally inquisitive and at the beach they are bound to continuously run up to you with a new treasure in hand. Mom, look what I found! I always had a bucket ready to hold the shells, broken and whole, that my children had discovered while digging moats and building castles in the sand. Children have an innocent and unique way of looking at everything. They don’t bypass the ordinary as we adults might do, because everything to them is Continue reading Mom, Look What I Found! Get the Bucket→
Sanibel and Captiva Islands on Florida’s Gulf coast is a popular tourist destination for the serious seashell collector. It is possible to find some quite rare shells there, and it’s impossible to not find any. Some of the beaches on Sanibel Island are nothing but shells!
But if you travel to Florida’s east coast – which is very long – you’ll still find your share of seashells. Just don’t expect them to be as plentiful. You will probably also see some very interesting sea life, dead and alive along the shore.
The southeastern U. S. coastline, particularly the Gulf coast of Florida, contains some of the best shelling in the world. Sanibel Island and the surrounding area, including Captiva Island are situated just right for “catching” the shells in the current of the Gulf waters and when visiting you’ll find yourself doing the “Sanibel stoop” right along with all the other tourists who are hoping to find the best beach treasures.
When you are tired of shelling on the beaches, take a shelling cruise to the outer islands which are only accessible by boat, where the crowds will be fewer (I assume) and search for more treasures. Taking living shells is NOT ALLOWED – in fact, it’s against the law on Sanibel and in the area.
I’ve never visited the The Baily Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel Island, – it wasn’t built when I vacationed there and opened in 1995 but every shell collector should find it interesting, and most likely helpful in identifying seashells. The Museum contains tons of seashells (of course), but also a history of the Calusa Indians and how they used shells in daily life. Here is a listing of exhibits at the museum.
If angels ever need to give their wings a rest, I imagine they shed them along the Florida coast or over the shallow water where they eventually wash up on shore for us to find in the form of long white seashells.
The Angel Wing (Cyrtopleura costata) shells look just as you would picture them to look. They can be up to 8 inches long and even though my story imagines them being “dropped” in Florida, they can be found all the way up the east coast of the U. S. to the state of Massachusetts and in the south, to Texas and Brazil.
The ones shown here are courtesy of the Florida Sheller Blog, so check out his wonderful assortment of shells.