The Florida Beaches Royalty Tour – July 2013

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We’ve finally made it past the halfway point of 2013 and are hitting the home stretch. We’ve had quite a bit of visitors this Summer so we haven’t been able to travel very far the last few months. But as our website’s One Year Anniversary is fast approaching (September 12), I can assure you that the next five months’ tour stops are out of this world…

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This month’s stop took us to the beautiful and semi-secluded Barefoot Beach Preserve in Bonita Springs.

If you’re not familiar with BB, take 41 South to Bonita Beach Road. Go West to Barefoot Beach Boulevard. Turn South and make your way down the winding road, past the multi-million dollar homes to the preserve. It’s $8 to park all day.

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You can’t beat the wonderful view. Yesterday with very few clouds in the sky, our view was spectacular.

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As I mentioned above, it is certainly semi-secluded. It is definitely a known beach, but there are spots along the stretch where you can find a nice private spot to relax and enjoy the day. According to the Friends of Barefoot Beach Preserve Website:

Barefoot beach consists of 342 acres on a barrier island, separated from the mainland by mangrove swamps and tidal creeks. It is bordered on the west by 8,200 feet of Gulf of Mexico beach and sand dunes, and on the east by mangroves and tidal back bays. It is terminated at Wiggins Pass to the South. One of the last stretches of undeveloped beachfront land in South Florida, it remains as natural and unspoiled as it was hundreds of years ago. Rich vegetation and wildlife abound.

BB is known for having a large number of Gopher Tortoises, which are currently listed as a Threatened Species.

We were very anxious to enjoy our day, so after hitting the donut shop for some pastries and coffee, we arrived, set up shop and away we went.

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Now this is no reflection of Barefoot Beach and more about what’s going on with our ecological system here in South Florida, but the water was dark and full of red algae. We’ve had massive amounts of rain recently and that’s caused some fresh water run-off that’s affecting our beaches.

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But we weren’t going to let that stand in our way!

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We hadn’t walked ten steps before we discovered this Spider Crab chilling on the beach. Chilling is probably the incorrect word. He was cooking and near death. When I picked him up with my scoop, he offered little resistance. We put him back in the water to live to play another day.

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Wildlife certainly abounds at Barefoot, like these guys who were constantly popping up in my scoop:

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The wrack lines contained the occasional goodie…

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Like this guy…and I am still trying to find out what he is:

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It looks like a Dove Snail crossed with a Cerith, crossed with a Dwarf Triton…and I can’t seem to find it in my shell books. Anyone have any idea?

**Update –  Donnie the Shellinator ID’d it for us – it’s a Turrid Shell. Thanks D!

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Hey look….more wildlife. Two Nine Armed Sea Stars.

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Dig, scoop, dig, scoop….

Unfortunately, we didn’t have great luck in the shelling department yesterday, but we will be back. That I can guarantee. We found remnants of real keepers (Queenie found a nice sized Junonia piece, a Nutmeg and a Crown Conch) so we know they are there, along with lots of really cool coral and Worm Shells.

Instead, we popped on the radio and soaked in some sun…and there was a LOT of sun, which drained us of energy when we got home and left us to enjoy a Harry Potter marathon while we lounged on the couch.

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…a couple of Wentletraps, that cool Turrid Shell and a Purplish Tagelus.

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Ever seen a Jingle that big? I haven’t. That thing is HUGE and thick like a Pringle chip.

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Do we recommend Barefoot Beach? Absolutely. We’ve been there several times and have enjoyed it each time. Keep your eye out for Turkey Wings, as they are abundant there. Hang tight with the water quality. It’ll come around soon. :)

Whatchu Conch-in ‘Bout?

Blind Pass is a great place to relax, hang out, get some sun, meet new people and…receive gifts?

Yep. The Shell Queen got a little Christmas gift early in the form of this HUGE Horse Conch. Eddie and Taffy, a very nice couple from New Jersey whom we met at Blind Pass on Sunday, offered to give her the Horse Conch. Eddie had been out in the water, feeling around in the sand for shells. “I thought it was a rock”, he said before pulling it from the sand. Taffy, his wife kindly offered it to the Shell Queen, as she already had one at home and didn’t want to take it onto the plane.

Thank you Eddie and Taffy. You made the Shell Queen’s day!

SQ also found this very cool Flat Scallop. It just happened to be laying in the sand and the Queen scooped it up. Lucky lady!

We started off both weekend days cloudy. The water at BP was quite a bit murky, and it’s starting to get cooler. But by 10:30am, the sun was out, the water clearer and the shells jumping out to be collected.

I had to be careful where I decided to get into the water. We found quite a few jelly fish, and this weekend many were definitely the stinging kind, like this Moon Jelly (which do not normally sting people, but can). Box Jellies were all over the place, and I almost swam into one, had the Queen not warned me a moment prior.

But the shelling was great and the tiny collectible shells were everywhere, including this odd-colored Pear Whelk.

As you can see above, the Bubbles, Buttons, Tops, Limpets, Cones, Wentletraps and Drills were everywhere….and check out this Fig shell! Very delicate, and for the most part, intact.

But I’d have to say besides the Shell Queen’s Horse Conch, this one stood out to me as the prize of the weekend:


Yes, that IS an Albino Fighting Conch (you can tell it’s an albino because the shell is still shiny, rather than sun-bleached). They’re not super rare, but they’re not abundant either. So finding one caused me to stop snorkeling, come out of the water and take the time to admire it. What a cool shell.

It’s a white out!

Hope to see you Thursday for some THUNDER!