For the serious beachcomber, the most important thing about shelling is to know the Tides as the best shells are found just before low tide.
Another opportune time is after a storm – advancing cold fronts tend to push water away from the beach and tropical storms can churn up the tides bringing shells ashore like Left Handed Whelks, Augers and Coquinas.
The best places for shelling are at Turtle Beach and the public access area on North Shell Road.
Once gathered, you may want to identify your finds. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum has a great online shell guide that will help you recognize the various pieces in your collection. To browse shells commonly found in South West Florida click: HERE.
Florida has a State Law prohibiting the collection of live shells and that includes sand dollars.
Regarding Loggerhead Turtles…
You may notice here and there, bright orange tape strung around four long stakes in the sand.
With the help of more than 300 volunteers, the Mote Marine Turtle Patrol does a wonderful job documenting and marking each nest found throughout the nesting season. Loggerheads begin arriving around March with peak activity from May through August.
Females often nest up to seven times within a season laying clutches from 100-125 eggs. OUCH!
Coming ashore mainly at night females will dig a deep hole and leave soft leathery orbs to incubate for up to 60 days. Hatchlings emerge generally at night and head to the ocean for 20 to 30 years before reaching full size and sexual maturity.
Although males never return to land, females often come back to the same beach and nest within feet of their own place of birth. About 80 percent of the world’s population is believed to nest in Florida or in Oman on the Arabian Peninsula.
In the U.S., Florida accounts for more than 90 percent of the loggerhead nesting population.
Now listed as a threatened species…
We invite you to join us in keeping our beaches “Turtle Friendly”.
- If you encounter a nesting turtle, remain quiet and observe from a distance.
- Shield or turn off outdoor lights that are visible on the beach from May through October.
- Close drapes after dark and put beach furniture far back from the water.
- Fill in holes that may entrap hatchlings on their way to the water.
- Place trash in its proper place.
- Do not approach nesting turtles or hatchlings, make noise, or shine lights at turtles.
- Do not use flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach.
- Do not encourage a turtle to move while nesting or pick up hatchlings that have emerged and are heading for the water.
Shell photos courtesy of Seashellco.com