Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Shelling on Southwestern Florida Beaches…


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?

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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.

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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…


  1. Love the beach in that part of FL. if you are ever on Sanibel Island, there is a fantastic shell museum there...worth a visit.

  2. Believe it or not - there is a fantastic sea shell museum in Broadus, MT. Over 20,000 sea shells.

  3. You are taking advantage of the beaches and having fun I see.

  4. There really is a lot to see in the sand at the beach. We love doing that.

  5. Love this post. I've heard of Lion's paw but never cat's. They look the same but perhaps the lion is larger. I've never seen the 9 armed sea star. Cool beans!!

  6. One thing I have never seen along a Florida beach is a star fish. Very cool that it was a nine arm one! It is SO hard for me to walk a beach for exercise because I struggle to keep my head up and not down looking at the shells. My favorite shelling beach is on Sanibel.

    One of the hikes we did a couple years ago in Anza Borrego was to a fossil wash. The wash was covered in ancient cat claws and oyster shells. The walls of the wash were thick with them. It was strange to stand in the desert and try to imagine the area covered in that much water. You two would enjoy that hike:)