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Posts Tagged ‘Sanibel Island Florida seashells’

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. That means that on any given day our family can hope to find this family at the seashore.

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! We’ve been lucky enough to find so many perfect uninhabited specimens of lightning whelks along the Gulf of Mexico coast from Florida to Texas. We have also left a whole passel of them behind because they had become comfy little condos for hermit crabs!

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says: “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”).”  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!

~~~ Revised and reposted on 5/5/2014 – with additional photos ~~~

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Shellabration! 2012 ~ and Beyond (Sanibel Island, Florida)

Posted by Jody on November 3, 2011

4/22/2012 Update: Shellabration! 2013 is scheduled for Feb 26 – Mar 4th, 2013. The 76th Annual Shell Fair is scheduled for March 7 – 9th, 2013.

This is the event for seashell collectors, seashell crafters, and seashell enthusiasts of all ages and sorts!  The Sanibel Island, Florida Shell Fair and Show is celebrating its 75th year in 2012!  Shellabration! 2012, celebrated on the islands of both Sanibel and Captiva, is a week-long seashell extravaganza which runs from February 26 through March 4, 2012.  The actual 75th Annual Sanibel Shell Fair and Show is scheduled for March 1-3. This is the longest running shell fair and show of its kind in the United States.

Shells on the Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida (©Jody Diehl)

There are few better places on the North American continent for a festival of all things seashell!  According to the Shellabration! 2012 website, Sanibel and Captiva are unique among Florida’s Gulf of Mexico barrier islands because their  “boomerang shape and east-west orientation rather than the usual north-south positioning” makes their shores giant, natural shell-scoops, especially when the conditions are right.  Winter is the peak shelling season for both of these islands, so naturally late February and early March are an ideal time to pull out all the stops and put the winter’s best finds on display!

Along with the Sanibel Island Shell Fair and Show, Sanibel and Captiva’s island communities are planning a myriad of events for the Shellebration! 2012.  Here is just a small sampling of the festivities from the Shellabration! 2012 website.

Sanibel Stoop at Sunrise (Photo ©Jody Diehl)

The Sanibel Stoop: Held on Friday, February 17, at Bowman’s Beach, you can help Shellabration! 2012 break “The Guinness Book of World Records” number for the largest seashell scavenger hunt!

Watson MacRae Gallery: “Sea Shells” Invitational Exhibition will include a week long exhibit featuring the works of invited Sanibel artists and focusing on The Shells of Sanibel and the sea.  Monday, Feb 27th opening reception will be open to the public.  In addition, the Watson MacRae Gallery will feature shell inspired pottery and glass from artists around the country during Shellabration! 2012 week.

One Woman Play & Ice Cream Social:  On Sunday, March 4th, at the Community House, Rusty Brown presents “In Celebration of Anne Morrow Lindbergh” followed by an Ice Cream Social. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles A. Lindbergh, authored the classic, thought provoking book “Gift From the Sea”.)

“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

To find out more about Sanibel Island, Florida you can check out: “Sanibel Island, Florida: A Beachcombers Bonanza”, “Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!”, & “The Sanibel Shell Guide”.

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, 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-

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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 islandsunnews.com.

Sunset on Sanibel Island, Florida (©Jody Diehl)

What a wonderful opportunity for all beach lovers!

UPDATE 9/28/2011: Article from CaptivaSanibel.com – “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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