Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I am NOT a stalker... well maybe just a little one but I promise to stay hidden so you wont notice me.. :P

Asking an avid sheller where they found their overflowing bucket of shelling treasures is like asking a  fisherman where he fishes to catch the big ones. The reply to your pointed question is usually answered in a mumbled garbled vague  sort of way. You'll never get specifics and you will definitely get their best poker face.  Most serious shellers will share their favorite shelling spots but don't think for a moment there aren't a few left in the vault for safe-keeping.  A few years back I started seeing some very interesting pictures being posted from the Bonita Springs area on the iLove Shelling Facebook page. 

This beach chick was posting pictures of huge horse conchs & stunning alphabet cones, the likes of which I hadn't seen for a while even on Sanibel. She wasn't giving up too many details either but did elude to a tennis court by some beach condo & she always called it "the 10 spot".  So I did what any self-respecting beach combing lunatic such as myself would do - I facebook stalked her.  I went back and read all her posts.  I looked at her facebook pictures (all 206 of them)  for landmarks.  I took all the information I gathered and scanned  the terrain on Google Earth.  I felt pretty certain I had nailed down the location.  Silly me.  It never dawned on me to just Facebook Carla & ask her where the 10 spot was located duh.  Now that I've met her in person, she is such a sweetheart, she would've told me in a heartbeat.

The 10 Spot is now one of my favorite places to go shelling.  It's a huge cove on the north end of Little Hickory Island just north of Bonita Springs Beach. The little bay almost completely empties out at a low tide.  The post-Isaac pictures of the huge shell pile at the 10 Spot were just too much to resist.  I set my alarm for 3am on Sunday morning and made the 2 hour drive south to Little Hickory.  My niece Pookie & I made our way out to the 10 Spot as the sun was rising.  There were so many shells, shell piles, wrack lines full of shells, & sand bars lined with shells that I seriously went into sensory overload.  The area would be under water in 3 hours when the high tide rolled in so I saved the 6 foot high by 80 foot long shell pile for last.  That small mountain of shells was not going anywhere. Surprise!! My shell sister Carla showed up with her mom Sue. It just goes to show you that not all stalking relationships end badly.

Pre-dawn beach combing is a very surreal experience.

The last vestiges of the blue moon are still visible in the western sky over the Gulf of Mexico.

The ginormous shell pile created by Hurricane Isaac is 6' tall by 80' long.  There are thousands of fighting conchs that were tossed onshore by the storm waves and are now one hot stinky mess.

Pookie doesn't waste any time inspecting the sandbar.

What an awesome find but it's occupato so back to the sandbar he /she goes to make more little horse conchs for future shellers.

At high tide the cove is entirely under water.  I've seen this cove totally empty during a minus low tide in the past.

Looking across the sandbar to the north is Lover's Key State Park.
The sun rose at 7am.  We had already been shelling for an hour.

The tide is still receding.  This entire canal will empty out by 9am.

Even 4 days after the storm shells are piled up every where.  When the tide turns this will all be under water in 4 hours.

All birds are accustomed to bait being in a bucket.  This snowy egret gave me the snub when he discovered only shells in the bucket.

The morning was alive with the sound of birds.

Pookie, Carla, & Sue walk the tidal pools.  They will leave no pen shell uncovered.

Hermit crabs from the tidal pool.  (Credit:  Carla Barone)
Huge true tulip - live shells always go back where we found them.            (Credit:  Carla Barone)

Carla found this huge whelk - empty YAY! (Credit:  Carla Barone)

Do your self a favor and wear old sneakers when walking in muck like this.  I've been soaking a puncture in my heel for one of these fighting conchs because I went barefoot.

The sandy bottom that the receding low tide left looks like a moonscape.

The wrack line was full of dead pen shells & fighting conchs.  I used my hand rake to sift through them but it was a stinky endeavor.

Carla standing on top of the biggest shell pile.

We methodically dug from one end to the other.  I can still hear the sounds of the shells jingling in my head.
Bumper sticker idea - I DIG SHELL PILES!  (Credit:  Carla Barone)