Although MurexAlice and I arrived on Sanibel Island a few days ago, our visit really did not truly begin until today when we did our first early morning, low tide shell collecting. We met up with another Trip Advisor friend, Winifred, and walked the Middle Gulf beaches from about 6 to 8 AM. It is just so pleasant being out in the early morning on the sand flats seeing all the sea life and watching the sunrise. As reported by others, there are now tens of thousands of living and dead sand dollars on the beaches. Most of them are about the size of a silver dollar or maybe even a little larger. For those of you who are numismatically challenged, that is about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.
As for what shells I found, here is a partial list. There were many live olives making trails and a few fresh dead ones that were available to take. I found one huge, live, true tulip, Fasciolaria tulipa, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=88 (which I threw back after admiring) and a bunch of dead, banded tulips, Fasciolaria hunteria, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=87 . Perhaps my most impressive finds were two Florida Horse Conchs, Triplofusus giganteus, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=87 , 7 & 10 inches in length, which were dead, but still in relatively good condition. I found two small, but nice Lace Murex, Chicoreus dilectus, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=71 and several Apple Murexes, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=72 . I also found a few Pitted Murexes, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=74 . I love those little shells. I also found a nice Colorful Moon Snail, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=38 and a few Shark Eyes, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=40 . I found three perfect Paper Fig Shells, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=56 . I found other shells, but that list should give you a pretty good idea of the shells that were on the beach.
A few more comments may be helpful. I found the two (relatively) large Florida Horse Conchs in a tide pool between the beach and the first sand bar in only 4-6 inches of water at about 7AM, long after sunrise. They were only 5-6 feet from the beach, in a location where many shell collectors had already passed near them but had not collected them. So, why were these two Horse Conchs still available for me to collect when so many others could have done so? I cannot be sure of the answer, but here is my best guess. These two nice shells were in among a large group/cluster of dead Stiff/rigid Pen Shells, Atrina rigida, shellmuseum.org/shells/shelldetails.cfm?id=56 . The Horse Conchs are relatively dark and the Pen Shells are relatively dark. If people casually looked at the Pen Shells, they could not see the two Horse Conchs in their midst and apparently did not wade into the tide pool to inspect further the cluster of Pen Shells. For those of you interested in collecting shells, those clusters of Pen Shells can hold some real treasures, but you have to inspect them more closely. Frequently between the Pen shells there can be dead cones (Alphabet and Florida) and also Murexes (Lace & Apple), among other interesting shells.
The winds are up, and the temperature & humidity are down. The next several days should be an excellent time to collect seashells on and around Sanibel Island. More later.