Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Florida has the typical  state bird & state flower

The State Shell is the Horse Conch.  I found this on on Sanibel Island back in January 2011 on the Captiva side of the newly-forming sand bar.
  I guess it stands to reason that we would have a state stone also.  Any idea what it is? Obscure rocks on the beach that have really cool geodes in them for $200 Alex!   What is Agitized Coral?  ding, ding, ding.... Exactly.  What the heck is it.  According to "Coral is the outside skeleton of tiny ocean animals called polyps, which live in colonies attached to hard underwater surfaces. When alive, polyps combine their own carbon dioxide with the lime in warm seawater to form a limestone-like hard surface, or coral.  Agatized coral occurs when silica in the ocean water hardens, replacing the limy corals with a form of quartz known as chalcedony. This long process results in the formation of a "pseudomorph," meaning that one mineral has replaced another without having lost its original form. In 1979 agatized coral was designated the official state stone."  I've had several pieces in my possession & didn't even know it.  Even worse, there are three main places in Florida to find Agitized Coral and the best one is my hometown of Dunedin at the beach on Honeymoon Island State Park. 

The Agatized Coral is on the bottom row in the middle.  It's too pretty to keep inside a box.  I've put it on a shelf where the sun can shine on it.

Family:  Poritidae
Genus:  Goniopora
Species:  ballistensis
Collected by Cousin Joan on Honeymoon Island State Park near Tampa, FL.  This coral is known to the rock hounds who cut & work it as Tampa Bay Coral.

 I've found loads of spectacular shells on Honeymoon Island over the years but I had never even heard of Agatized Coral until last week. My Cousin Joan came to visit from the Dunedin area.  She brought me a huge geode-looking rock that she had found while shelling on Honeymoon Island. She explained to me that the agitized coral on Honeymoon Island is from where they dredged the bottom of the bay in the construction of the causeway back in the 1960's. She finds it all the time while she is shelling & has bucketfuls of the stuff. Ten years ago Joan had gifted GeeGee a shadowbox display full of Honeymoon Island shells .  One little cubby had Agitized Coral in it but I just missed it somehow. I was probably looking for any sharks teeth.
The 3 pieces hiding in the shadowbox

Here's a link to the Florida Museum of Natural History's collections of fossilized coral

So in addition to shells & sharks teeth I am adding Agatized Coral to my beachcombing shopping list. When you live in Florida shells & fossils are never too far away.  After a strong rain take a look at side of a dirt pile or ditch.  Next time you walk on a shell road or driveway take a closer look at what you are standing on.  You have to have the eye.  When you are used to looking for shells one has to mentally switch a brain groove to see the sharks teeth.  I'll be switching my sharks teeth to Agatized Coral the next time I visit Honeymoon Island.


  1. Love this!
    I am moving from NJ to Florida this month..and am soooo excited!
    Thank you!

  2. Oh my goodness...what amazing finds!!!

    ps...i'm having a little give-away on my blog! Stop on over if you get a chance:)

  3. Oh my gosh Karen, how many times have we been out to Honeymoon Island together and never knew these treasures were there? I say it's time to bake some more brownies and head out for some agatized coral hunting!

    These are as cool as you said they were!

  4. Awesome...who knew? Hope I can find some someday.

  5. This is so cool! One more thing to look for on your expeditions. Cant wait until you find your first one.

  6. That is one amazing horse conch. WOW! happy 4th of July. Just back from NYC. Catching up on my favorite blogs and some emails tonight. Just a lazy relaxing Friday night!! :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.