Some of the best shelling we have encountered in our travels has been found all along the southwestern beaches in Florida. We are fortunate that there are several great shelling beaches close to where we are staying here in Bonita Springs. All along Bonita Beach patches often contain more shells than there is sand!
Depicted in the photo above is what lots of the beach looks like especially along the old surf line (click on the photo to enlarge it). Can you see the cat’s paw shell in this picture? Once we discovered a few of the shell’s names it has become a scavenger hunt.
Not only do we scavenger hunt for various shells we are also always on the lookout for various colors. Especially colorful are the small coquina shells. They are often paired together providing for some very colorful shell butterflies. For you information the large shell on the left is a cat’s paw – look again closely at the picture of all the shells in the sand. Can you find the cat’s paw now?
So many shells are on these beaches that we have never seen… the top left photo is a large olive shell and the one on the right is a well sanded and worn fighting conch. It isn’t only shells all along these beaches we see, there are often other interesting marine creatures which have died and washed up. We have seen critters such as the horseshoe crab and the Nine-armed Sea Star.
The Nine-armed Sea Star is the only sea star to have nine arms. Like many other starfish species it everts its stomach to engulf its prey basically "swallowing" with its stomach. Many of the food items were swallowed whole! The nine-arm sea star feeds on mollusks, small crustaceans, and sea worms. It also filters “stomach-fuls” of sediment to feast on other tiny organisms.
Yep, it is always interesting to walk along the beach on our scavenger hunts discovering new organisms and then going back home to read about them…