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The Sanibel Shell Guide was originally published in 1982, so some of the information is outdated.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