Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shelling on Sanibel Island

Do you remember as a child when you looked up at the sky it exploded with stars? The moon was so bright, you felt as though you could reach out and pluck it from the darkness? If you live out in the desert or in the country, you probably still experience this natural occurrence, but if you live in a large town or city, the sheer beauty of the night sky has probably been lost. That is unless you live in a town like Sanibel, Florida, where they take light pollution seriously.

According to the New Rules Project website, "Many of Florida's oceanfront communities have adopted lighting codes to protect the nesting sea turtles along beaches. Sea turtle hatchlings instinctively head toward light. Before electric lighting, bioluminescence and the reflection of the moon on the water made the ocean brighter than the land. But due to light pollution, hatchlings often head inland. The strict limits on street lighting on Sanibel Island aim to remedy the imbalance between the unnatural brightness of the shoreline and the natural bioluminescence of the sea."



The turtles are not the only ones reaping the rewards of these strict limits. On our recent trip to Sanibel Island, Kaybe and I had a plan that we would do a little night shelling during the low tide. We watched the sunset on one beach…



and then returned to our little cottage and headed down the path to the beach in the pitch dark. Kaybe's flashlight and my headlamp lighted our way…


Please note that this was the beach we stayed at and we knew there were no turtle nests in the area, otherwise we would not have been there with our lights.

One look up and you knew you were in the right place at the right time, the night sky was brilliant with stars and when we reached the water, the moonlight made a path to the sea…


Sorry for the shakiness of the moon, I didn't take my tripod with me. I was loaded down with my new shell shovel that Kaybe gave me when I got to her house and my shell bag.


So how did our night shelling expedition go, you ask? While we didn't find that many shells, we were well-rewarded with the sheer joy of being on the beach, away from the neon lights and noise you encounter on most beaches in Florida. Oh my dears, it was fantastic!


While nighttime, didn't reward us with a full bucket of shells, the daylight hours did!

Here's my haul from the first day…




And here's my haul from the second day…





Oh yeah, these beauties are going to clean up just fine.

I took these next two photos after I got home. They are of some of the minis I found.




Just look how tiny these five Horse Conchs are! I don't know how I spotted the one on the left, but I did!


The third day we were leaving the island and stopped on the causeway where I found these shell rocks. I just love these; they are formed when sediment from the ocean bottom and bits of shells bind together. Aren't they cool?


 I really love this one, with the imprint of a scallop shell clearly visible.


I found this as I was overturning some of those algae-covered rocks and shells you see in the background in this next photo…


It was here on the causeway that I finally found what I was searching for — a large piece of Horse Conch. I've written about these before, I consider them to be sculptures from the sea and this one will look gorgeous next to my black and white one you can see below if you missed it the first time.



Here's a couple of shots Kaybe took of me…

This stance has been dubbed the

Sanibel Stoop

and it is how you can tell the difference between the shellers and the sun-worshippers…



Here I am with my shell bag and

my new shell shovel

thanks again Kaybe!


This is what we see when we look down…


Click on this image to see it larger and you can pretend you were right there with us! Maybe next time, yes?

We shelled, shopped and ate for three days. When we started out, my brain looked like this…


By the time we left, it looked more like this…


My  brain on shells!

That's if for today, I have one more post to share with you about our Sanibel Adventure — The Shopping! I know you're all sittin' on the edge of your computer chairs waiting to hear why one shop proprietor was not happy to see us. Stay tuned…



23 Thoughtful Comments:

Linda @ A La Carte said...

I love the beach at night and Sanibel is surly the best place in the world. I am going back next year I promised myself.

Kaybe said...

I am now addicted to night-shelling. You captured the moon just perfectly. But I am sorry to tell you - your spongy brain may never recover. Shelling is an incurable disease. The best part of the trip was sharing it with you. I hope we can go again (& stay in a bigger motel room)

Love ya!

Drawn to The Sea said...

I'm having trouble pulling myself away from this post. Such a bounty of beauty & color. Love the rocks & the "sculptures"... I get very attached to things like that too.

Happy sunny day to you.
Julia~

The Florida Blogger said...

I think you would still be able to use those lights this time of year because it is not turtle season any more. I think...

Blondie's Journal said...

Shelling looks like such fun and I'd love to try it at night! Your pictures are beautiful. So are all the pretty shells!

XO,
Jane

Tootie said...

You girls must have had a great time! Can't help but love what happened to your brain. :) Thanks for mentioning the turtles. :)

Shellbelle said...

Yes, The Florida Blogger is correct, Turtle Nesting Season was over the end of October. We were there the first week of November and I like to play it safe when it comes to our precious sea turtles.

Since I'm here, commenting on my own blog, I'll also say your welcome to Tootie and give her a BIG thank you for all she does. Tootie is one of our fellow Floridians who goes out on Turtle Watch to find new nests and makes sure they are protected. She's awesome! Click on her name and visit her beautiful blog!

becky at abbeystyle said...

Love the last brain scan :) You two really know how to have fun...I've never been much of a sheller...for awhile I did it and made wind chimes from my finds but then I didn't know what to do with them all. The lazy Susan in my kitchen is filled with shells waiting to find reasons for being there...
becky (at beachsnaps)

Maya said...

Interesting about light limits and turtles -didn't know that!! And what finds, wow!!!! I have to make it down to Sanibel one day!!!!

Maya @ Completely Coastal

Kat said...

Sigh... just sigh... There is nothing more magical than a moonlit night on the beach. When we visit St. George, they take the lighting issue very seriously. Not only does it help the turtles, it makes for wonderful star gazing. I've heard that the shelling on Sanibel is amazing, and I guess it's true. What a haul! Now hurry up and tell us what that shop owner's problem was! Kat

ChrisC said...

Okey-doke...I'm gonna hunt you down(you left Fl!) and "relocate" some of those treasures you found.I have serious love for that horse conch yard-art you found.That's a beauty!Isn't it amazing to watch the tourists step over those?
Your minis are to die for!Let alone those Paper Figs you found(my fave shell!)
Glad you had a great time!

jmac said...

Dyin here....dyin' I tell ya!! I think you should bag all those shells up and throw them out into the universe so we can all catch one!!! But.....note to self: do not worry, your butt will be at Sanibel Island one day this yr and I'm takin' a sack the size of Santa's to collect all mine in!!
Completely agree about the night sky..when we're sailing on the open seas, there is nothing like the stars, from one horizon to the other, twinkling so brightly that it looks like one huge VanGogh starry night!! ONLY lights are the mast light of a surrounding boat! Awesome!
*foot update. will email

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I want to go there so bad! What great shells Rhonda! I know I could spend hours doing that with you. Only, maybe we could have a margarita or two along the way! hehe.
Cindy

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I can't get over how many shells you found. I guess I really need to get up really early or go out really late! How fun...that photo of the moon and the water...perfection!

CrazyCris said...

I was going to say "a moonlit walk along the beach is its own reward" when you mentioned not finding much... but when I saw the photo of your catch I was like "that's NOT MUCH?! whoah!"
It's amazing you have the time to organise all these and then do things with them!
All I recognised was the "Arca noe" we have a similar one in the Mediterranean. I'm really bad at IDing shells :o(

CHERI said...

My oh my!!! Unbelievable! So many shells. My MIL used to be just like you. She and my FIL would go somewhere down there every year (maybe Sanibel) and go shelling. Last year when she downsized I brought home tubs of shells. She planned to get rid of them and I just couldn't let them go. Have no clue what I should do with them. Any ideas???? Wish I had a beach house to display some of them in. Love your pictures...especially the ones with the moon:)

Bunny, THE PARIS HOUSE said...

Shellbelle ,
I would love to give nighttime shelling a try. It is glowing and magical in your photos!
It looks like you are having the most amazing time and so much fun down in sunny Florida.
I hope you are enjoying the holiday season in your sunny happy Florida style that always always always makes me smile!!!
xoxoxoxox
Bunny

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Rhonda, Mr. Magpie here. Sheila wants you to call her because she doesn't have your phone number. She had me sign on to leave a message for her.

Thanks!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Well no wonder I never find good shells.. For one I've never been to Sanibel and the other I've never been night shelling!! Shelling by moonlight.. how wonderful.. and how dedicated!!!

Look forward to seeing the shopping too.. but these shots are gorgeous.!! Take care and have a great weekend.. ciao ciao xxx Julie

Ms. Bake-it said...

Hey there!

It looks like you had a fabulous time! Great beach, shells and friends. Oh yeah, the food looked great too! Years ago when I lived on Anna Maria I used to go shelling at night. It really is such a different experience.

I am back from my vacation and blogging break. I will start blogging next week.

Hope you are doing well!

~ Tracy

simpledaisy said...

Oh how I needed those beach images today! It's freezing cold here in Indiana and pouring SNOW!

iLoveShelling said...

LOl that;s how my brain feels sometimes after shelling overload too. I get so over stimulated my brain goes haywire. Love your nighttime shelling shots.

Deb said...

Oh my. Oh my. Oh my. Karen sent me over to your blog to read about your Sanibel shelling trip. I am visiting Sanibel in March and now I can't wait to go! It will be my first time there---I can't believe how many shells are on the beach.

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!

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