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Archive for the ‘Gulf of Mexico Beaches’ Category

One Perfect Cold, Rainy, and Windy Day at the Beach!

Posted by Jody on March 29, 2014

Welcome to Padre Island National Seashore

Welcome to Padre Island National Seashore

Cold, rainy, and very windy! That’s how the day unfolded on our recent visit to Padre Island National Seashore, “the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world.” You can probably guess what we did! Our family simply layered up, snapped together our raincoats, and went on a lovely morning walk along the park’s Malaquite Beach with Ranger Lee (who, by the way, didn’t even wear a jacket). He was way tougher than we were!

Entrance to Malaquite Beach

Entrance to Malaquite Beach

One of the first things we noticed was that picnickers had left their trash behind at the picnic tables. Seriously? We had our family-requisite handy dandy extra bags in our backpacks so we pitched in and helped clean up. You’ll see one of the full bags in Ranger Lee’s hand. FYI: The Visitor Center hands out free bags so folks can pack out anything they bring into the park and/or pitch in with collecting seaborne trash.

The National Park Service explains: “Padre Island’s location in the northwest corner means that the southeasterly winds prevailing in the Gulf blow many objects, both natural and artificial, onto its shore as well as creating longshore currents which can bring much material for good or bad. Probably the most serious damage to the National Seashore’s environment is done by trash, which washes onto the beaches from offshore. The trash comes from a variety of sources including the shrimping industry, offshore natural gas platforms, and washing out of rivers and streams surrounding the Gulf. Much of the trash is either plastic or styrofoam.”

Our Morning Walk with Ranger Lee

Our Morning Walk with Ranger Lee

I was a bit concerned about getting blowing sand and salt mist on (and in) my camera, but I did try to capture some of the most interesting seashore treasures the Gulf of Mexico tosses ashore along this wild and unique 70 miles of South Texas coastline.

Here are just a few of the interesting sights and beach treasures we found:

Animal tracks ~

Dunes Covered with Tracks

Dunes Covered with Tracks

Pocket Gopher Tracks

Pocket Gopher Tracks

A rainbow colored selection of  Coquina Clam (Donax variabilis) seashells ~

Coquina Clams

Coquina Clams

Squadrons of Eastern Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentali) gliding over the surf ~

Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans

Black Drum (Pogonias cromis) skull bone ~

Skull of a Black Drum

Skull of a Black Drum

Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata) hole ~

Ghost Crab Hole

Ghost Crab Hole

This next example causes quite a stir, much debate, and even some consternation amongst the seashore’s visitors. Is it a shoelace? Is it pieces of fishing net? Some sort of rope wrapped wire?

No, no, and no. It’s Sea Whip coral!

Sea Whip Coral

Sea Whip Coral

Here are a couple of bone remnants from Hardhead catfish (Ariopsis felis) along with bits of Sea Whip coral and rope ~

Remains of Hardhead Catfish with Sea Whip Coral

Remains of Hardhead Catfish with Sea Whip Coral and Rope

The kicker: The other side of the catfish bones look like this. It’s why the Hardhead catfish is also called the Crucifix fish!

Hardhead Catfish Remains

Hardhead Catfish Remains

So many miles of beach, so little time to explore!

70 Miles of Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

70 Miles of Beach to Discover at Padre Island National Seashore

Now for a cup of hot cocoa (with five little marshmallows)! Care to join us?

~~~

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

Posted by Jody on March 17, 2014

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.”

~ Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“The stunning sugar white beaches of Gulf Islands National Seashore are composed of fine quartz eroded from granite in the Appalachian Mountains. The sand is carried seaward by rivers and creeks and deposited by currents along the shore.”

Source: Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida District

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Sylvan Beach Park ~OR~ Who would go to the beach to use the internet!?

Posted by E.G.D. on February 12, 2014

Beautiful Sylvan Beach Park

Beautiful Sylvan Beach Park

Sylvan Beach Park

It’s super clean!

Sylvan Beach Park

Lots of Grassy Space

Last month, when my mom and dad were visiting for my nephew’s birthday, I managed to reach whole new echelons of busy.  I’m not going to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that I have four jobs, and they’re all over the very large Houston metropolitan area.  Happily, one day during my parents’ visit, I had a five hour gap between jobs C and D.  I met the family in town for lunch, and then we poked around on my brother-in-law’s cell phone to see what we would do with the rest of my little pocket of time.  Long story short, we found a beach really close to my late-afternoon job and made a bee-line for it.

Our Birthday Boy

Our Birthday Boy

Sylvan Beach Park is a lovely, quiet little beach on Galveston Bay (on the mainland side) in La Porte, TX.  While we were there, the beach was clean, the sand was soft, and the facilities were remarkable.  There was plenty of parking, more than one well-maintained public restroom, a playground, a boat ramp, a rinse-off shower, and a (crazy-expensive, I’m sorry to report) recently renovated fishing pier.  We didn’t pay to go on the pier, but we had a great walk on the beach, and the tide was low enough to make shelling possible.  We found some really nice shells, including some lovely, undamaged barnacles.  I don’t think I have ever found nicer barnacles in my shelling experience to date, and the little niece and nephew were pretty excited.

The very expensive pier

Recently Renovated Fishing Pier

A Walk at the Beach

An Afternoon Walk

Beach Treasures from Sylvan Beach

Beach Treasures from Sylvan Beach

While on our walk, we noticed signs announcing that the beach park was also a wireless hotspot.  I couldn’t help but wonder out-loud, “who would come to such a lovely beach and use the internet?”  Well… apparently the answer is “me,” because a week or so later, I was stuck on the far-east side of town, and I really needed to turn in some paperwork to one of my jobs on the west side, and I was faced with the following choice: either I could show up at work in Pasadena three hours early and use the internet in the computer lab (functional, but not very atmospheric), or I could go to the beach.  I had my scanner in the back seat of my car, so I opted for going to the beach.

What?

Say WHAT?

It was a drizzly sort of day, but when I arrived at Sylvan beach, there were four other cars parked right at the entrance to the beach, where the view of the ocean is best, and in all four cars were people with laptops propped up against the steering wheel and/or tablets in hand.  Car windows were rolled down, radios were playing, and everyone was doing their internet business beach-style.  Who knew that sort of behavior was trending?  Anyhow, I got my internet stuff done and went for a walk on the beach between drizzles (it was high tide, so I didn’t find any good shells that time, but the walk was still lovely).  Before I headed to work, I rinsed off my shiny black work shoes in the rinse-off showers, and I arrived at work sand-free, glad for both the opportunity to submit some paperwork in style and to enjoy the little bit of free time in my afternoon.

Sylvan Beach Park on Galveston Bay

Sylvan Beach Park on Galveston Bay

Next time you happen to find yourself anywhere near La Porte, I highly recommend Sylvan Beach Park!  Whether you want to shell on the beach, swim, or check your e-mail, it is a lovely place to be.

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do around North Padre Island: Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

Posted by Jody on February 2, 2014

Jody:

I know we’re looking forward to our upcoming visit to the beautiful Texas Gulf Coast. Here’s a wonderful little preview!

Originally posted on Coastal Bend Life:

This will be part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island. My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

**********

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island Here is another one of my favorite places on my ongoing list about North…

View original 206 more words

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Pick Your Own” Prehistoric Shark Teeth!

Posted by Jody on January 15, 2014

Our family really loves the Venice, Florida area. In fact, I would describe Venice, also known as “The Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World,” as one of our absolute favorite playgrounds.

There’s just so much for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to do in Venice. It’s a designated “Bicycle Friendly Community” where you can ride bikes along the Intracoastal Waterway and over to the more secluded Casperson Beach. You might also want to pedal to the South Jetty where splashing dolphins frolic against the brilliant Florida Gulf Coast sunset. You can relax and enjoy lunch, with superb service, at Sharky’s on the Pier (Greg and I still try to duplicate their Boathouse Salad at home!). You can swim, kayak, beachcomb, bird watch, and walk the beaches to your heart’s content. The best thing of all though, is that beachcombers can “pick your own” prehistoric shark teeth that pepper the sandy shoreline.

Prehistoric Shark Teeth

Prehistoric Shark Teeth

Located in Sarasota County, the City of Venice is perfectly situated on the Gulf of Mexico, an easy-breezy one hour drive south of Tampa.

Venice Resident, A Great Blue Heron

Venice Resident, A Great Blue Heron

Venice doesn’t brag of sugar-white sand beaches. You won’t find dozens of name brand, highrise hotels lining the coast. And you definitely will not see a lot of flashy souvenir and t-shirt shops at the seashore. But what you most likely will find are some of the friendliest folks you’ll come across anywhere and great souvenir prehistoric shark teeth to take home with you.

Don’t think you need any fancy-schmancy equipment to collect prehistoric shark teeth. On our first visit to the area, we asked our hotel desk clerk if there was any secret to finding shark teeth at the beach. Perhaps something only the savvy locals would know? She smiled and ever-so-politely replied: “Just look down.” So, we followed her advice. It’s that easy!

Do you have a favorite shoreline where you find shark teeth?

~~~

Please feel free to leave a comment.  We’d like to hear your own thoughts and tips on Venice beach ~ or any beach!

 ~~~

Helpful links:

City of Venice, Florida

Venice Area Chamber of Commerce

Discover Natural Sarasota County

Sharky’s on the Pier

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Stress-free Parking Lot!

Posted by Jody on December 6, 2013

Crowded car parks?

Not for me!

Stress-free Parking
Stress-free Parking!

~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Honoring Our Veterans

Posted by Jody on November 11, 2013

Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach, Alabama

Thank you !

~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

Posted by Jody on October 29, 2013

Mississippi Gulf Coast Horizon

Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

“A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed…

It feels an impulsion… this is the place to go now.  But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds,

and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.”

  ~Richard Bach

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Horizon.”

~~~

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

Sunday Sunshine

Posted by Jody on October 20, 2013

Friendship

Friendship

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life,

and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” 

~Thomas Jefferson

Posted in Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

“The Sanibel Shell Guide”

Posted by Jody on September 20, 2013

Many years ago, on our fourth trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, Greg and I stayed in a wonderful beachside condo.  The owners of the unit had quite thoughtfully placed a copy of The Sanibel Shell Guide on the living room coffee table.  After thumbing through the first few pages, we were hooked!

The Sanibel Shell Guide is written in easy-breezy style, and it’s geared towards the amateur beach treasure seeker. This little gem is loaded with information that we hobbyists can actually understand and use.  The author, Margaret H. Greenberg, tells us from the start:

“This book was written by an amateur sheller for other amateur shellers who would like to know something about the specimens they find on Sanibel and Captiva.”

In short: It’s a handy little (117 page) shell guide, written by a beachcomber, about beachcombing, for fellow beachcombers. You can’t get any better than that!  “Over 100 shells (and other specimens ) have been identified with the aid of photographs, sketches, and descriptions free of Latin words and technical jargon.”

Sanibel Treasures & “The Sanibel Shell Guide” (Photo by Jody Diehl)

The Sanibel Shell Guide was originally published in 1982, so some of the information is outdated.  You’ll be paying for beach parking these days, and live specimen collecting is now strictly taboo, with good reason. In the chapter “Equipment and Attire,” the author explains: “A sunscreen  (as opposed to tanning lotions and oils) is also recommended.” Can you even buy tanning oil anymore? ;-) Nevertheless, this chapter has some very practical tips for a safe, comfortable, productive day of beach treasure hunting on Sanibel Island and Captiva (or anywhere else for that matter).

There are tips for where and when to shell on the islands, photos and descriptions to help you identify your beach treasures, and even some simple shell crafting ideas towards the back of the book.

When I was hunting for my copy, The Sanibel Shell Guide was already out of print.  I found a used copy, in excellent condition, on my favorite used book site: AbeBooks.com.  Even with shipping and handling, it was less than the original cover price of $5.95.

Shells identified using The Sanibel Shell Guide: (Photo, top to bottom) Fighting Conch, Cat’s Eye (I’ve also seen this seashell identified as a Shark Eye), Banded Tulip, Lightning Whelk.

Do you have a favorite seashell guide? Is it specific to your favorite beach? Inquiring minds want to know!

Happy beach treasure hunting!

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Beaches of North America, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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