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Posts Tagged ‘Sanibel Island Florida beachcombing’

“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The Sanibel Shell Guide was originally published in 1982, so some of the information is outdated.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:  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!

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

Christmas with Sanibel Style

Posted by Jody on December 7, 2012

Island beaches, seashells, a lighthouse and Christmas! Does it get any better than this?

The Sanibel Island Light, Sanibel Island, Florida

The Sanibel Island Light, Sanibel Island, Florida

Christmastime ~ The Sanibel Island Light

Christmastime ~ The Sanibel Island Light

Merry Christmas on Sanibel Island, Florida

A Merry Christmas on Sanibel Island, Florida

The striking Sanibel Island Light stands on the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, Florida.  Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it was built to mark the entrance to San Carlos Bay to guide the ships calling at the port of Punta Rassa (across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island). The surrounding grounds are open to the public, but there is no entrance to the functioning lighthouse itself.

Seashell strewn Lighthouse Beach wraps from the Gulf side of Sanibel Island around to the bay side.  This area of the beach is very popular with beachcombers looking for “minis,”  the teeniest-tiniest of seashells. We’ve seen folks equipped with long surgical type tweezers patiently examining nearby seashell piles.

To find Sanibel Island Light  just turn left on Periwinkle Way from Causeway Road. Head all the way to the end of the road. Here you’ll also find a fishing pier and a boardwalk nature trail winding through the island’s native wetlands.  Facilities include restrooms and outdoor shower,  plenty of 24 hour paid parking in the large lot and fee-free bike racks. Pets must be kept on a leash around the lighthouse grounds, and on the beach.

Would you like more info on Sanibel’s world renowned shelling beaches? Here are just a few more posts on Sanibel Island:

Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Top Ten Florida Beaches for Seashells

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

But wait, there’s more! :-) You might also want to type “Sanibel” into the search box (Treasure Hunt!) on the top left of this page.                    

Merry Christmas and Happy Beachcombing!


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Friday Finds, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Lighthouses, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 28 Comments »

Travel Theme: Texture

Posted by Jody on September 20, 2012

This shot always brings back the fondest memories of barefoot walks on the cool, early morning sands of Sanibel Island, Florida.   Kick off your flip-flops and enjoy!

Texture: Sanibel Island Sands

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach —waiting for a gift from the sea.”

~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

The weekly travel theme post concept comes from blogger Ailsa of  Where’s my backpack?

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Sand and Shoreline, Today's Special | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Common American Auger

Posted by Jody on May 24, 2012

The Common American Auger (Terebra dislocata), also called  the Atlantic Auger, is a very familiar find for beachcombers from the sandy beaches of the Southern Atlantic states to the West Indies.  But that doesn’t make this seashell any less of a desirable discovery in my book! Gorgeous in both shape and design, the Common America Auger comes in colors from off white and yellow tan to reddish brown and blueish gray (almost purple). This beach treasure has a  glossy exterior which reminds me of elegantly rippled icing, piped around the edge of a wedding cake. What do you think?

Common American Auger (Atlantic Auger)

Ranging from Virginia to the Caribbean, these little, intricately whorled shells are abundant year round on the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. We found the seashells pictured here on the sandy shores of Sanibel Island, Florida. Fairly easy to identify, they are slender and shaped much like a spike and can grow up to 2 3/8 inches in length.

The Common American Auger lives in sand from near the low tide line to water 100′ deep.  A carnivore, this sea snail is believed to feed on marine worms.

Common American Auger (Atlantic Auger)

Happy beachcombing!

Now, did somebody say “cake?” I’ll get the plates, you get the forks!

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Lightning Whelk, A “South Paw”!

Posted by Jody on November 10, 2011

The whelk family is a rather large and far-reaching family!  It includes over 1500 species, and whelks are found in all seas from the Arctic, through the tropics and to the Antarctic.

The lightning whelk is a relatively common seashell which is native to the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas. The lightning whelk can be found in the sand from the near low tide line to water about 10 feet deep. Finding an empty lightning whelk seashell is a beachcombers delight!

Lightning whelks reach a length of 2.5 to 16 inches (6 to 40 cm). Their distinguishing characteristics include their off-white to tan or gray shell with narrow, brown “lightning” streaks from the top of the shell to the bottom. The shell is white on the inside. The animal inside the shell is dark brown to black. Lightning whelks are unusual in that they have a counterclockwise shell spiral (lightning whelks are usually called “left handed”).” (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) The related Perverse Whelk is also a “south paw” but has a heavier and stouter seashell.

Lightning Whelk (©Jody Diehl)

“Like snails, the lightning whelk is in the class Gastropoda which means “stomach footed”. Gastropods are univalves (have only one shell). Hermit crabs often make homes of unoccupied lightning whelk shells. A lightning whelk leaves behind a trail when crawling. It is often easy to track them. The shell grows very quickly when the whelk is young as long as food is abundant. As it gets older, the shell grows more slowly. The color of the shell depends greatly on light, temperature and age. Older whelks have pale shells.” (TPWD)

The lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi) was named the official state seashell of Texas in 1987.  The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a short,  interesting article on the lightning whelk which covers many details of this beautiful sea creature including its life cycle, diet, and ways this gastropod has been utilized by man through the years.

Happy beachcombing!


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcomber’s Bonanza

Posted by Jody on September 8, 2011

Sanibel Island, Florida is the ultimate US vacation destination for the serious beachcomber! Sanibel Island, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is south and west of Fort Meyers. With miles and miles of shell-strewn, sugary white sand beaches and hundreds of different types of sea shells to pick from, you won’t need anything to keep you busy but the seashore!

©Jody Diehl

Sanibel Island Beach Treasures (©Jody Diehl)

Head out to the wide sandy shore, and soon enough you’ll find out exactly what the “Sanibel Stoop” is.  If you aren’t doing the “Sanibel Stoop” in a matter of minutes, you are sure to see plenty of beachcombers who are! We are stoopers.  Other shellers will come armed with shelling baskets attached to long handles. (These scoops are used to reach down into the sandy shallows.) Some come equipped with handy-dandy surgical tweezers to pick up the mini sea shells that are often found at Lighthouse Beach. I’m convinced that all systems for shelling on the beaches of Sanibel Island are equally effective.

Sanibel Island Lighthouse at Christmastime (©Jody Diehl)

Sure, you’ll be told the best time to shell on the beaches of Sanibel Island is a couple days after a winter storm, during low tide, when the moon is full…  Those may indeed be the ideal conditions for shelling, but that never seems to matter.  We have always come home quite happy with new beach treasures from our seashell hunting any time of year, no matter the tide, no matter the  phase of the moon, and no matter which Sanibel Island beach!

We have found teeny-tiny miniature shells in heaps, and we have come across live whelks as large as Greg’s size 12 sandal moving across the sand. The most amazing thing about shelling on Sanibel Island’s beaches is the number of whole, unbroken shells you can find.  Lightning Whelks, Fighting Conchs, Olives, Augers, Turkey Wings, Moon Shells, Alphabet Cones, Scallops, Banded Tulips! The variety is amazing and the colors are so beautiful.

Be sure to have good a shell guide for identification purposes and check out the tide tables if you do want to hit low tide at the beach.  You won’t want to miss seeing the sunrise and sunset from the Gulf side of the island.  Those colors are absolutely gorgeous, too!

Have a great day beachcombing on Sanibel Island, Florida!  -J-

Please remember to share us with your friends and Like us on Facebook. Thank you!

Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Sanibel Island (Florida) Free Guided Beach Walks

Posted by Jody on August 24, 2011

Visiting Sanibel Island, Florida?  Beachcombers and coastal wildlife lovers alike will enjoy the free monthly program being hosted by the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and J N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  Once a month (on the last Tuesday) at 9:00 AM, Refuge Ranger Becky Wolff and shell expert Dotty DeVasure will team up to help children and adults learn about, appreciate and enjoy the marine life and seashells of extraordinary Sanibel Island.  This family friendly program will begin Tuesday, August 30th. For details and contact information check out

Sunset on Sanibel Island, Florida (©Jody Diehl)

What a wonderful opportunity for all beach lovers!

UPDATE 9/28/2011: Article from - “Senior enjoys sharing shelling knowledge

*Sanibel Island is located in the Gulf Of Mexico, just off the coast of southwest Florida, west of Fort Meyers.*

We’d love to hear about your Sanibel Island/Captiva beach treasures and experiences!  Please feel free to leave us a comment! Thanks! -J-

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Sea Turtles, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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