SHELLING

Tips for the beach­comber

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Trea­sures From the Sea

Sani­bel Is­land's beaches are world fa­mous for shelling. More than 300 shal­low-wa­ter va­ri­eties of shells can be found.

WHY?

Sani­bel Is­land is part of a plateau that ex­tends for miles into the Gulf of Mex­ico and acts as a shelf upon which shells gather. Winds, storms and waves de­liver the shells to the beaches.

TIM­ING

The best time for shelling is at low tide, and the lower the tide the bet­ter. New and full moons mean that the tide will be at its low­est, so don’t just check the tide charts, check the moon charts too. Af­ter a storm, par­tic­u­larly a win­ter storm, the shelling is at its best. The nas­tier and windier the storm, the bet­ter.

WHERE TO LOOK

The high-tide line is where you will find the most shells, but they may be bro­ken from rolling in the surf. Shells are most eas­ily spot­ted if you walk care­fully and slowly along the muddy area of sand just be­fore the ocean. The ti­dal pool is the best place to find the largest shells. It means get­ting your feet wet, and the best thing to do is to crouch down and put your hands into the surf to feel in the sand.

LIVE SHELLS

The law pro­hibits the col­lect­ing of live shells. If it is still alive, please re­turn it to the wa­ter. Never take a live shell.

1 Junonia

A very spe­cial shell, the cov­eted Junonia mea­sures 3 inches. If you find one, the is­land news­pa­pers will take your photo.

2 Crown Conch

Aka King’s Crown, it’s at­tached to man­grove roots and eats oys­ters.

3 Banded Tulip

Mea­sur­ing 2 inches long, it’s named for the dark lines en­cir­cling the shell.

4 Fig

This del­i­cate shell, mea­sur­ing 3 to 4 inches, is hard to find in­tact.

5 Lace Murex

A gor­geous sou­venir, this brown, white or black shell mea­sures 2 inches.

6 Spiny Jewel Box

This white shell with long spines can some­times be found in pairs that are joined.

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