The Florida Beaches Royalty Tour – July 2013

SKFRT 7

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…

IMG_2180wm

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.

IMG_2169wm

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

7-27-1wm

7-27-3wm

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.

IMG_2178wm

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.

IMG_2179wm

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

IMG_2167wm

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.

IMG_2168wm

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

IMG_2175wm

The wrack lines contained the occasional goodie…

IMG_2170wm

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

IMG_2173wm

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!

IMG_2176wm

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

 IMG_2172wm

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.

IMG_2186wm

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

IMG_2183wm

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

IMG_2181wm

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. 🙂

Some real Thunder at Little Hickory

ThThunder

It was a tough decision last night – Blind Pass or Little Hickory.  Well, we hit Lighthouse and picked up some goodies on Wednesday night, so we figured two days in a row on Sanibel would be overkill.

I know , my Northerner friends – “What does he mean two days in a row on beautiful Sanibel Island would be overkill?

When you see me, you have my permission to slap me.

We were leaning heavily towards Blind Pass, but we decided – Little Hickory, here we come.

7-25-1wm

It was a little overcast when we left the house, but when we arrived it was sunny and very windy. I know the picture doesn’t capture it, but the water was very rough.

7-25-2wm

and like I said, so windy that the kite surfers were out.

7-25-4wm

7-25-5wm

I made a handful of scoop attempts with my new scoop – “Scoopy Two”, got hammered by incoming waves and got soaked. There was also a lot of red algae (not red tide algae) in the water and it clogged up my scoop. So I decided to hit the wrack line with the Queen.

7-25-3wm

Like Wednesday night, we noticed both tea colored water and a ton of seagrass. There was not a tremendous amount of sweets and goodies in the wrack, but we did continue to find plenty of coral and worm shells, like this huuuuuuuuuuuuge Caroline HUGE Worm Shell that Queenie found.

7-25-16wm

As we made our way further up the shore line towards the jetty, we saw some shell piles in the distance. Hmmm wonder what was in there?

How ’bout TONS of keepers bro!

7-25-22wm

I started using my scoop to pull back the piles while Queenie used her tiny shovel to dig deeper. There were several days of buried shells in the piles and we just continued to uncover goodies the more we dug. We left a shell wake along the shore that was quite laughable.

7-25-7wm

The Queen found this fresh Lightning Whelk operculum.

7-25-9wm

and this Flat Scallop.

7-25-12wm

This really sweet Orange True Tulip and Apple Whelks out the wazoo, along with a boatload of Channeled Whelks.

7-25-15wm

Look at the size of that thing!

7-25-13wm

For comparison, the one in the front is the one we found during the famous “Shell Carpet” night back in September of last year. The one in the back, found last night.

7-25-11wm

This sweet Lace Murex.

7-25-10wm

…a crazy colorful Nutmeg and I believe either a worn Turret Snail or a beaten Auger. Can’t tell. As soon as we started raking through the piles, apparently some folks were looking down from the hotels above and we were joined by a couple who kept their distance, but were keeping a watchful eye as to how were were shell seeking. We eventually got tired from raking and digging and made our way back to the car, talking about what a good decision it was to hit Little Hickory. .

…and just when we thought our night couldn’t get any better, we ran into none other than the Shellebrity himself, our Facebook buddy and fellow South Florida/Sanibel sheller Mike G.

7-25-17wm

Waddup Mike? We chatted for a few moments about what was in the shell piles, showed him what was in the Queen’s shell bucket and snapped a pic. All we needed was Donnie the Shellinator and the four of us would have shut that beach dooooooown. I can picture the four of us, laughing uncontrollably at other beachgoers – “NO SHELLS FOR YOU!”

By the way, Mike makes some pretty cool and affordable shell bracelets. So hit him up on Facebook (you can find him through our Facebook page) and place an order!

So we hit the beach not finding much and it quickly turned into a gold mine. Which goes to show, don’t give up if you’re out there and you don’t find any shells. They’re always somewhere, sometimes you just gotta “dig” for em.

7-25-18wm

7-25-20wm

7-25-19wm

Not a bad night?

7-24-6wm