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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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.

Sheller’s Gold

I struck GOLD, I tell Ya.  Wednesday morning I parked at the North Beach at Honeymoon Island, ready to shell!  The waves were kicking up some treasures!  There were piles of beach debris, which contain great little pockets of shells.

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But today I didn’t even need to search that hard because shells were rolling in all around.  Things got especially good when I parked at the Oasis and began to search the rocky shoreline.  A near perfect Alaphabet Cone laying, waiting to be discovered, this part of the beach must not have been shelled yet!!  I went on to find a bleached almost whole Tulip, Apple Murex’s, Lightning Whelk, Shark’s Eye, a whole Cyclinella clam, Fighting Conch everywhere, Juvenile Fighting Conchs, Augers and Turbans galore.

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But then I stopped…All morning I had been seeing parts of Tulips everywhere, broken, but beautiful.  Was this a sign to keep searching?  Woo-hoo!  There she was laying in a pile of minis (and a partial fish head), my perfect True Tulip!  She is very small and delicate but the most gorgeous shade or coral!  Today I struck gold my friends…

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Stink, Stank, Stunk…

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So last post I was very excited about the shells I scored at Honeymoon Island, “Hey look at me, I am a good sheller!” That quickly turned into “Holy Crap what is that horrid stench?!” and “Ewww…what came out of that Shell?”  followed by fleeing the bathroom in HORROR.

As I posted before, see Horse Conch disgust, I am not that great with slimy animals.  I see a Fighting Conch in his little shell drying in the sun, I place him back in the water no problem.  But when chunks of recently deceased Fighting Conchs are coming out of a shell in my bathroom sink it freaks me out.  This is my first experience with shells that were not completely cleaned out by nature before I skipped along and placed them in my bag.

My procedure for cleaning shells is usually rinse out the sand, soak in 50/50 Bleach water solution, scrub with a little dish soap, rinse, dry and apply mineral oil.  These bad boys are still in the process, I almost brought them back to the beach but I plugged my nose put my gloves on and persisted.  After 2-3 rounds of bleaching and long hot soaks in Almond scented dish soap they have come out “smelling (kind of) like roses,”  or Almonds in my case.  The chunks of “stuff” long gone down the drain, I now will lay off the Fighting Conchs and continue the search for my perfect True Tulip or Junonia…

Still a little nervous a slimy muscle might fall out, here are the conchs in question still drying outside.  Someday they will get their shine back…IMG_5297

On the Calm Front

Good Morning from calm and beautiful Honeymoon Island.  When I arrived at the North Parking lot the wind was barely blowing which seems to be a rarity on the island.  The waves were not so fierce today.  The Seagulls were chilling out and the seashells were rolling in.

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 Lots of Fighting Conchs, Olives and Lighting Whelks.  I even found a Banded Tulip, from this angle it looks perfect & pink but unfortunately it was destroyed on the other side.  If you can see that little orange blob, it is an orange Jingle.  First one!  As soon as I took this picture the wind started up again and things got a little smelly by the beach.  Decaying beach matter, oh and that GIGANTIC decapitated fish head that scared the be-jesus out of me,

can be pretty stinky.

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Tree Fort-Shelling Style

 Today we went out to the North Oasis beach at Honeymoon Island, we were about an hour and a half until low tide.  I found great things washed up around the trees, so I climbed in.  I shell pile is so deep that I found a lot of shells buried under rocks and in between the roots.  A tree line so close to the water is a great place to look.  IMG_5046

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 I found some great stuff and displayed it on a “concrete” rock.  All colors of Olives, Augers and Juvenile Fighting Conchs, a Leopard Crab shell and Lightning Whelks.  I even found a fossilized shell, it looks like a very, very old Florida cone.  There were plenty on Fighting Conch shells, but most of them had tenants so I put them back out.  All in all is was a great day rummaging amongst the waves.

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Honeymoon Bounty

It’s getting busy at Honeymoon Island!  Lots of Northern license plates.  By the time I left at noon there was a lot of traffic heading towards the beach.  Today I got out around 10 am and headed right for the Oasis parking on the north end of the island.  We had some rainy and windy weather on St. Patrick’s so hopefully it churned up some great treasures!

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There were huge shell piles all the way down the beach!  The shelling is amazing right now.  If you like Turbans, it is Turban heaven!

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Lots of live shells on the beach, this fighting conch was snuggled in.  I put him back in the water after I took a picture of his beautiful coloring.

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These are my picks of the day!  Juvenile Fighting Conchs, Olives, Sunray Venus!  My treasures were a Shark’sEye, an Alphabet Cone, a Pear Whelk, a Lightning Whelk and a King’s Crown!  My first King’s Crown.  After I wash and oil the shells I’ll post close ups!!

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