Seashells and Beaches

When I moved here in November 2007, I found a book by Blair and Dawn Witherington called “Florida’s Seashells A Beachcomber’s Guide”.  It’s all about the shell’s on Florida’s beaches, where to find them, and some great info on each shell.  The book is very well divided into information on finding beach shells, mollusk anatomy, gastropods, cephalopods, scaphopods, bivalves, very small shells and fossil shells.  Also, on each page is a map of Florida and a color-coded guide to when and where this particular shell is found.  I either take this book with me on beachcombing trips or, once I get home, I go through all my shells and match them with the book to see what I found that’s new.  My goal with this book is to find one of each shell listed.  So far I have 139 of the 252 species of shells found in the book.  Not bad for only 8 months of beachcombing.  The book sells for $9.95 and can be found at most Florida bookstores and Amazon.com.

Not long after I started marking up my copy of “Florida’s Seashells…” (I check off what I find) I discovered another book by this duo.  “Florida’s Living Beaches A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber” goes much further in showing us what can be found on the beaches.  This book covers beach features (dunes, sea foam, tides, water color, shell hash, etc), beach animals (any critter that washes up on the beach, fish, birds, reptiles and mammals), beach plants, beach minerals (ever wonder why one beach looks different from another?), and man-made stuff that washes up.  There are plenty of pictures and each page has a color-coded map of where and when to find these things on Florida’s beaches.  “Florida’s Living Beaches” is an amazing book that we pack on our beach outings.  I’ve become a scavenger on the beach now, picking up anything that looks cool.  I’ve learned that you find interesting shells and critters when you pick through sea weed.  And I love identifying plants and watching birds.  This book is $21.95 and well worth the price.  I highly recommend both of these books.

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Mystery Bones

Last week we went to Boca Grande.  Cool place to visit.  We hung out on the beach just before you get to the Gasparilla Island State Park.  After a while we checked out the Park and the Boca Grande Lighthouse then ate lunch at The Loose Caboose.  The fish basket was tasty. 

On our way out we stopped again at the beach, at some little pull-off parking lot.  A storm was coming so we weren’t going to stay long.  I started beachcombing while the guys jumped in the water.  First I found a large and gorgeous snail shell.  Then, up on the sand, among dried-up sea weed, I found some really cool looking bones.  We Googled skeletons of all the sea creatures we could think of once we got home

and couldn’t find a match.  So today the boys and I went to MOTE, the aquarium in Sarastoa, and asked if anyone could identify the bones.  There must have been about 6 biologists that stopped by to take a look.  Apparently they really dig looking at creature bones.  Some said it could be the jaw of a large tarpon, another said it could be from a whale (since it’s pretty large).  I was referred to USF.  They have a museum and the paleontologists and archeologists might be able to identify the bones better than the biologists. 

It was a fun trip that kept us busy.  I’ll contact USF through email with some pictures tomorrow.  Meanwhile, we’re calling it our sea monster.

Turtle Beach walk

 

I have to tell you about yesterday…the boys and I went to Turtle Beach, here on Siesta Key, with plans to walk south to Midnight Pass.  My neighbor told me he rides his bike to Turtle Beach, walks the bike to Midnight Pass (because the sand is too soft to ride on) and then rides along the Casey Key beach.  So we thought lets try it, sans bikes.

We never made it.  The shells along the beach were too distracting.  Thank goodness I brought a little bag for “some” shells.  We ended up filling it with mostly crown conchs, and some welks and clam shells.  It took us 1 hour to go the distance of about a 10 minute walk, so when it got hot and the shell bag got heavy we turned around and went home.

The waves were incredible.  Could they have been rough from Hurricane Dolly?

When we got home, just for fun we weighed the bag on the bathroom scale.  7 lbs!  No wonder my arms and shoulders hurt for a while.  But I’m fine now.

After lunch we went to Shell Beach.  There is a small camper we see almost every day we pass by that is just parked there.  Well it was there again and we parked next to it.  The man, a grey-bearded old guy, had a mostly red parrot sitting on his side mirror.  It was the size of my forearm.  The boys watched the bird while I hunted shells. I found nothing of note until I turned to go toward the car and my younger son, Travy, pointed out some pen shells I was about to step on.  Good thing I stopped.  I was able to scoop up 5 of them, unbroken.  They are huge.  I’m soaking them right now to clean off the barnacles and limpets.  The biggest is 8 1/2 inches x 5 inches.