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Posts Tagged ‘collecting seashells Sanibel Island Florida’

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The Sanibel Shell Guide was originally published in 1982, so some of the information is outdated.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

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

Sanibel Island Treasure Find: Worm Shells

Posted by Jody on December 15, 2011

Today’s Featured Writer: Alaina Diehl

Worm Shells Found on Sanibel Island, Florida (©Jody Diehl)

Names can be deceiving! Although these shells bear the title “worm shells,” they are the home to little tiny snails. As you can see, it’s like an entire uninhabited apartment complex washed up on the beach of Sanibel Island, Florida.

This is one of my absolute favorite Sanibel Island finds.


Worm Shell Family

A rather large family of loosely coiled shells found in all warm waters and comprising about 5-6 genera and numerous species; there are about 11 species known in our waters, ranging in width from less than 1/16” (2mm) to 1” (25mm). They begin as tiny, coiled larval shells, but soon become uncoiled and grow in an irregular fashion. They attach themselves to rocks, other shells, or wooden structures, either singly or in large masses. Most worm shells have a circular, horny operculum, with or without projections on the inner side; in some the operculum is small or absent. They feed on tiny food particles present in the water that is pumped into the mantle cavity and extracted by hairlike filaments on the gills. They also trap food in the surrounding water using mucous threads; the food particles are then drawn into the mantle cavity.

Rehder, Harald A. “Worm Shell Family.” The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashells. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981. 427.


What’s your favorite beach treasure find?

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

Today’s Special: Turkey Wings!

Posted by Jody on November 24, 2011

Turkey Wings are on the menu today!  These particular turkey wings are awesome good because they are eye-catching treats from the seashore.  We collected our main course on the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida.

Turkey wings are members of the Ark Shell Family, a family of over 140 species of bivalved mollusks found in temperate and tropical seas. “Bivalves (Bivalvia) form the second largest class of mollusks and include clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and shipworms. All bivalves have a shell made up of two valves. A flexible tissue connects the valves, and toothlike hinges keep them aligned. When the animals are feeding or breathing, the valves separate slightly.” (World Book*)

Blue Plate Special! Turkey Wings (©Jody Diehl)

These turkey wings won’t be coming over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, though! In North America, they can be found in the ocean waters from North Carolina to Bermuda.  They live on coral rocks and  in crevices from the low-tide line to depths of 20 feet and can range from 1 ¾  to 3 ½ inches in length.

The turkey wing seashell is great fun to find and rather easy to identify. This brown and white seashell resembles the wing of a wild turkey!

Benjamin Franklin thought the North American Wild Turkey should be our national bird. Can you imagine plating the national bird?  Please pass the Tofurkey!

~Happy Thanksgiving from the treasure hunters at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches!~

(*Prezant, Robert S. “Mollusk.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2011. Web.  24 Nov. 2011.)


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 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-

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Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 37 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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