Tuesday, February 26, 2013

“If we don’t manage this resource, we will be left with a diet of jellyfish and plankton stew.” Daniel Pauly

(Photo Credit:  Michael Sullivan)  
 Be careful out there.  No day at the beach is worth trading your health for.

(Photo Credit:  Stephen Hayford GNS)

Can you believe Red Tide is still with us on the shores of SWFL?  Yuck!! The algae bloom has been meandering  up and down the coastline from as far north as Clearwater Beach to as far south as the Keys.  The highest concentrations have been on Venice Beach, Manasota Key, and Pine Island Sound (the backside of Sanibel/Captiva).  Before you head to the beach on SWFL check The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission site for an update on your local beach.

Here's a throwback from happier shelling times from a year ago I'm re-posting my adventure to become a Guinness World Record holder in my favorite sport - the Sanibel Stoop.
(Originally posted on February 19, 2012)

On Friday February 17, 2012 - 700 Sanibel Stoopers set a Guinness World Record on Bowman's Beach - Sanibel Island, Florida.

 Whether it's education, athletics, business, or hobbies; everything we pursue in life has it's pinnacle of success.  Runners have the Boston Marathon, world leaders have the Nobel Prize, B-level celebrities have Dancing with the Stars. I'm not a very competitive person. The only award I ever won as a kid was 2nd place in a 50 yard dash when I was 10. In high school I kept a pretty low profile.  As an adult I have been pretty satisfied to keep my hobbies & interests on a casual level except for beach combing.

Shells are my passion.  Finding them, learning about them, making things with them, & collecting more of them has been a pursuit of mine for many years. There are awards in shelling - that's what shell shows are for.  Unfortunately, my mermaid mosiac was 5 inches too wide to enter into the Sanibel Shell Show.  My dream of winning a Sanibel Shell Show award ribbon was dashed. There are other shows but my heart was set on the creme de la creme. What I lack in competative spirit I make up for in flexibility & resilience.  The opportunity to be a Guinness World Record holder called & I answered "Heck Yeah!".  I was to join 700 other passionate shell lovers doing our official stance known as the Sanibel Stoop. But why wait for 10am Friday morning when there is a minus .07 low tide at 3am?  

Enter my partner-in-shelling crime Shellbelle.  You would've thought we were a couple of 12 year old kids who couldn't sleep the night before a Disney World trip. Why wait? We left Englewood at 10pm Thursday night & pulled into Blind Pass on Sanibel Island at midnight.  After spending an hour or so on the sand bar & shell pile we headed over to Bowman's Beach hoping there wasn't a locked gate closing off the parking area. There wasn't and we took the first parking spot right up front.  We wheeled our beach carts the 1,000 yards out to the pitch dark beach crossing 2 small foot bridges & a long sandy path.  Setting up our little (not a camp site because that is highly illegal) area with our chairs, lantern, & tarp on the ground we proceeded to drink hot coffee from one of the 3 thermoses we brought and deciding which way to go on the beach- right or left. We wiled away the wee hours of the pre-dawn morning shelling both directions, listening to the birds, watching the moon, stars, & finally the sun rise.  

As the morning progressed a  steady stream of Sanibel Stoopers started filing on to the beach.  Shellbelle & I had not pre-registered so we made our way up the beach to stand in a humungous line to register & get our names officially in the record books.  It all got a little too hot, claustrophobic,  & chaotic in the staging area for our sleep deprived sensibilities.  The organizers were trying their best to instruct the Stoopers & keep confusion to a minimum but it was tantamount to herding cats.  Shellbelle & I left the line & walked back to our little not-a-campsite. Who needed their name in the Guinnuss World Book of Records anyhow?  Well, I do! That's who. I came to play!  Leaving Shellbelle to enjoy the beach I scrambled back to get in line.  After getting my name offically on the Guinness list I stood in another line with all the other 700 Stoopers because Guinness rules dictated that all participants had to enter the record setting area at one time. It was all over in 30 minutes.  We stood up straight from our "hiney's hovering" position to wave wildly to the helicopter taking our picures over head. So this is what it feels like to be a World Record Holder.... sweet.  I promised Shellbelle my new title wouldn't change things between us. I'd stay the same simple humble beach comber that she had always known & loved.

Champions are willing to pay the price to be at the top of their chosen endeavor.  In our case it was dark, dewy, & cold but we enjoyed a wonderful low tide on Bowman's Beach.

The Wonder Wheeler beach cart makes not camping on the beach so easy.

As the sky lightens up the early bird  beach combers start to arrive.

Bowman's Beach at sunrise. Our Sanibel Stoop trip was blessed with nice weather & no rain.

The lines were long but needed.  When setting a Guinness Record there are lots of rules that have to be followed .  All participants had to sign in & sign out after the event for their presence to count.

Every record setting event needs an official t-shirt.

Shell sistah Pam from iLove Shelling.com patiently waiting in line.

Heading to the record setting spot

Bloggers are always taking pictures.  That's the back of Capt. Brian Holaway's head & Pam.

Getting ready to assume the position.

We get last minute instructions & are told the helicopter is on it's way.

One, two, three, STOOP!

And hold that Stoop for 30 seconds to insure we don't get disqualified for any non-stoopers (also know as Stoopid)

Blogger Capt. Brian of CB's Observation's on the Water snapping some fotos from down under.

Looks like a massage table or an on-site Chiropractor would have been a good idea.

Are we done?

The helicopter takes a victory lap around the jubliant  World Record holding Sanibel Stoopers.

A good blogger has an eye for the photo op & this stooper in a caution vest was irresistible.

Pam is great at chatting it up & getting all the details.

What a fun day & great blogger friends to share it with. (L-R) Me, Capt. Brian, & Shellbelle

A Guinness World Record & a big honkin junonia... my work is done here.


  1. I remember reading about this when you first posted. I enjoyed the re-telling of your experience and the lovely photos to go with it. I really like those beach wheelie carts too. They would come in handy for other things. Sadly we don't have those here. Enjoy your week!

  2. cannot believe I missed this post last yr.....awwwwwwww, how I would have loved to have been there. What an awesome day that must have been!
    and hey guess what? my boyfriend was at the eagle's nest on sunday visiting the new babies!!! Told him to scream your name and you'd come a runnin....but hmmmm....he's not so much into screaming!!!

  3. I love reading this again and getting to see you, Shellbelle and Pam! What an amazing event. I love your mermaid mosaic, too! I hope that red tide is over soon. I didn't know it was a problem right now but I remember seeing it in Texas years ago...stinky!

  4. This was a great post the first time around and I enjoyed it even more this time. Come on Sanibel!

    Ick on the red tide.

  5. Very cool. That mermaid mosaic is amazing!

  6. Looks like the good old days, Karen. I haven't been to Venice Beach in months. And thanks to all the other pollen and crap, I haven't been able to open my windows...cough, cough, cough. I finally bought an air purifier so I oould sleep a little more peacefully. Hubbie's home with a second new knee so I'm the nurse on duty. Not a fun winter.

  7. P.S., Karen...I wonder if you could suggest good headlamps for hunting sharks' teeth in the dark. I took my guys out very early in the morning their first day here (the literally LEAPED out of bed in excitement). I gave them hot chocolate and we found some flashlights around the house. But when we got to the beach, they weren't content with just walking around~~they wanted to hunt for sharks' teeth! Who could have guessed that. Miracle of miracles, Blake DID find one with the help of our miserable little penlights but I'd like to surprise them next year with headlamps or caps with lights...any recommendations?


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