|Pen shells are a sure sign of a recent storm. Under the tangle of flotsam & pen shells are lots of shells treasures.|
Whenever a tropical depression or storm rolls through SWFL it is inevitable that shells will follow - not your normal traverse arks and cockle shells but lightning whelks, scotch bonnets, & hopefully a junonia or two. The where & the when can be elusive. The first shells usually show up on the low tide following a storm. Depending on which way the wind was blowing determines the probability of which beach. TS Debby was spinning counter-clockwise and the winds were blowing SW. On Sanibel more than likely the Lighthouse Beach on the southern-end of the island is where the storm bounty will roll in.
But one still must attend to the daily duties of life. When the word gets out the shells have arrived the window of opportunity is small. In a few short hours the masses have arrived at the beach looking for shells too. Even a great shell pile from a storm can be picked over in half a day. When I got the estactic phone call from the shell sistah hotline that the shells were rolling in on Sanibel, I was at my first appointment of the day. Ratz! I resigned myself to looking at the haul from afar on facebook later in the day. Another call - my appointment cancelled. Woo hoo! I'm outa here.
After running home, grabbing my gear, & kissing hubby good-bye I am heading south to the shell aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby. I dawns on me I was in such a hurry I forgot to grab my bathing suit. Oh well, shorts and a tank top it is. I picked up my buddy Lil Shorty on the way. She is on vacation this week and would have killed me if I went without her. Light house Beach was packed with shell seekers. There were tons of shells typical after a storm but they were all alive. Live shells stay on the beach so they can make more shells. Where are the empties? After walking the sandbar toward the fishing pier I saw what I was looking for. A huge storm pile of flotsam and pen shells to dig through.....and I had tools - my shell shovel and hand rake to help me sort through the chaos to liberate any trapped empty shell that needed a good home. The tools came in handy again along the edge of the sand under the fishing pier. As I knocked the edge of the sand into the waves all the big shells washed out. Just remember, when shell opportunity knocks, answer with a shell shovel & a hand rake. Your bare hands will thank you and you won't be sorry.
|Pen shells attach themselves to sandy or grassy bottoms so when the surf gets rough they are the first shell to wash ashore.|
|Sadly, there were countless numbers of sea stars that washed too.|
|These perfect banded tulips were alive.|
Beach goers were extremely respectful
of the "no live shelling" law.
|This woman gathered these live lightning whelks |
and walked them out to the water.
|Lil Shorty enjoying her first big shelling day on Sanibel. |
She is knocking down the edge of the sand and
letting the waves wash all the big shells out.
|All the shell seekers were digging through the piles|
so we had the edge all to ourselves.
|This is what I came for - alphabet cone, |
angel wing, & perfect lightning whelks.
|My best find - my first ever scotch bonnet. The ridges are so cool.|
|Missed opportunity can be costly. A parking ticket on Sanibel is $250 . I had 12 minutes to spare.|
|My goody shells.|
|My mom is the official shell cleaner. She does a great job. Since her stroke she doesn't get to the beach much. She oh's & aw's over ever shell.|
|Storms are only opportunities with shells following them.|