Deep Dish Jelly Fish

Walked the beach first thing in the morning, the park opens at 8 am, and found some nice shells and good conversation.  I like to start my beach hellos with “Did you find anything good today?”  You can tell a sheller by the stooped walk and the immediate bag rustling after you ask that question.  Lately it has been, “Nothing very good, the shells are pretty beat up.”  I also like to ask, “Where are you from?”  This time I got Chicago, so we bonded over Pequod’s, Lou Malnati’s, hot dogs and beef sandwiches.  Then talked switched from Deep dish pizza to the HUGE washed up Jellyfish dotting the beach.  Red Tide?  We wondered if it was back, but it doesn’t seem to be.  The ladies remembered coming to the beach in years past, finding Olive shells the size of their hands.  The good old days.  There is nothing like a friendly conversation in the warm morning sun on the beach.

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All the Dead Fish Should Have Been a Warning Sign

 

I was very excited to be the first one in the North parking lot on Tuesday.  I started walking the deserted beach on a mission to take “beachy” pictures for my friend’s surf company.  “Oh there’s a dead fish,” no big deal.  “Agh, there’s another dead fish,” okay.  “THERE ARE A TON OF DEAD FISH,” I think I’ll hang out here for 2 hours.  I didn’t even think to myself, “You should leave because it’s probably the RED TIDE.”  I kept on shelling and taking pictures amongst the dead fish, the dead blowfish and even, as one beachcomber alerted me to, a “dead baby Shark.”   Red tide happens every year when a specific algae, Karenia brevis, blooms.  Lots of marine life dies and it can cause respiratory issues in humans.  It smelled like fish that morning but I had no problems breathing.  Although I probably would have walked away if there had been a sign posted about the Red Tide.
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I found a few good shells and took a ton of “beachy” pictures…

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amongst the dead creatures.

 

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Finding My Nature Center

 

 

When it gets too hot out shelling, the boys and I like to head to the Honeymoon Island Nature Center.  It’s a great place to cool off, learn about the island and it’s animals and even do some major bird watching.  It also has nice bathrooms, which is a plus!  Kids can do a scavenger hunt to win shells, there are crafts, videos to watch, gifts to buy and a really friendly staff.  They have a HUGE shell collection, I mean these shells are huge.  Of course I always forget to take a picture, I’ll remember next time.  On the third Saturday of the month from 1:00-4:30 pm they have a shell show!  What a great addition to any already amazing beach.

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Reclaiming the Beach

 

It rained in the morning, so I decided to take the boys out to the beach after it cleared.  It was a beautiful 75 degrees for a short time on it’s way to scorching 90 degrees.  We haven’t been to Honeymoon that much lately, because of the humidity and, of course, the situation with the sand fleas.  Beach wary.  But it was breezy and sunny, record scratch, under construction!  The Southern part of the Oasis Parking Area is currently fenced off for a large beach project.  The boys LOVED seeing the equipment and huge boulders being lifted around.  So I did some digging online and found that they started some beach improvements, which will continue until this time next year.  They are building 3 giant “T-Groins,” which is a T shaped rock wall.  This will help keep the sand on the beach from washing away.  They will also be filling the beach in with 149,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from Hurricane Pass.  I am excited to see the changes in the beach, it always seems different every time we go!

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We found a few good shells! Olives, Juvenile Fighting Conchs, Augers, Arks, Cantharus, my first Sharp Ribbed Drill and a gorgeous Paul Newman’s Sharks Eye.  I was excited to find that Shark’s Eye because I just read on I Love Shelling about one Pam had found.  They call them that because they have a true blue center!

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Who knew I’d Find Shells at Philippe Park?

 

I have been coming to Philippe Park, in Safety Harbor, for a year now.  I usually take the kids, they have 2 unique playgrounds.  It’s a great place to pull the card in backwards, open the back, sit in the trunk, eat lunch and look at the beautiful views of the water.  The last time we went I was surprised by a huge school of Sting Rays drifting by in formation.  We took a stroll down the concrete wall that surrounds the park, low and behold, shells!  Live shells moseying about in the shade of the trees.  The water was crystal clear and I could have watched them for hours.  If it wasn’t for the heightened mom mode I was in, I don’t need a 5 year old or 2 year old falling off a 4 foot wall!

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It’s a little hard to see in the picture, but there are Fighting Conchs scurrying about.  We even saw an upside down Horseshoe Crab.

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Philippe Park is located in Safety Harbor, off of Philippe Parkway.  The land was first inhabited by the Tocobaga Indian Tribe, you can visit the Indian Mound there.  After that is was the Philippe Plantation, a few citrus trees remain.  It was acquired in 1948, making it the oldest park in Pinellas County.

Laid Back…

…with my mind on my Shelling and my Shelling on my Mind.

As you can probably tell I am taking the shelling easy these hot summer days.

Dragging the kids to the beach so “mom can shell” is not ideal.

So I will just dream of a day when they go off to college and I can shell every morning…

or at least when the older one goes back to school, the tourists diminish a bit and the temperatures cool.

Until then I am the Super Casual Sheller.