Tips for the beachcomber
Treasures From the Sea
Sanibel Island's beaches are world famous for shelling. More than 300 shallow-water varieties of shells can be found.
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.
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.
The law prohibits the collecting of live shells. If it is still alive, please return it to the water. Never take a live shell.
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.
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.