We took a long weekend trip south to Naples, Sanibel, Captiva and San Marcos. Tropical Storm Fay had left its mark on the area in terms of flooded fields and parking lots but everything else looked ok to us. We were just happy to be traveling around for a change. Fay did try to ruin our time causing bands of rain and some thunderstorms but she didn’t win. We had a great time!
Our first stop, after checking in at the Lemon Tree Inn near the historic downtown section of Naples, was the beach at the end of 5th Street S. The waves were fierce, ending in a froth along the shoreline. The wind was actually carrying some of the foam up the beach. Some foam smashed into my younger son’s leg which totally grossed him out. Seaweed, foam and some small shells littered the beach. We decided after 15 minutes to explore elsewhere so we headed to San Marco. We drove around looking at the town and decided to stop at the public beach. We paid our $6 entry fee and it starting pouring. There was another park we could visit on the same $6 so we drove there. We drove through the rain to the spot with the blue sky above. No foam, no seaweed this time…just shells. We collected a full beach bucket before deciding to head back to the car.
Saturday we drove to Sanibel for some shelling at low tide. Oh, I was in heaven! This is what I remember post-hurricane beaches to look like. I figured out that you found more if you dug a little. There were top snails, ceriths, fighting conch and hawk-wing conch, shark eyes, tritons, nutmegs and tulip snails, spindle shells and welks, murex, lettered olives and Florida cones. We found mossy arks and turkey wings, mussels galore. Scallops, jingle shells and really large cockle shells. We filled the bucket several times. And that was just Sanibel.
We had lunch on Captiva, a quick swim and then headed back to stop at the shops. The one shell I’ve been dying to find is the purple snail shell. I heard that is not just hard to find, but most likely to be found along the lower Florida Keys. I don’t know when we’ll get there so when I found one in a shell shop, I bought it. Is that cheating? Well, if it is that’s ok…I’ve got one now.
Our last stop was the Sanibel Lighthouse. Of course we hit the beach. It was so full of oysters it stunk, but the wind was so strong it didn’t matter. We collected some beautiful pen shells, and an unbroken Atlantic figsnail.
Before leaving on Sunday we made one last stop to the end of 5th Street S for a walk to the pier. I added to my collection a handful of painted egg cockles and the flat valve of a orange round-rib scallop shell.
Someone I met while shelling on Sanibel told me she hadn’t seen this many shells in a long time. She lives in Naples and beachcombs often, so I rest my case about great shelling after a tropical storm or hurricane. I am, in no way, in a hurry for another storm, but I do enjoy the abundance of shells such storms provide. Thanks Fay.
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