Get Low, Get Low


So we’ve got the first week November low low tide in town for the next week. I decided to get out early on Monday morning and take a stab at finding some shells.

I’m an early riser to begin with, so waking up at 4am instead of 5am was pretty easy. I decided to go solo, because if I’da tried to get the Queen outta bed that early, I’d probably be posting this blog entry as a single man. I like being married, and my wife is pretty. So I slinked outta the house like a ninja.

Let me first apologize for the pictures in advance. I got a new phone this weekend and hadn’t had the time to really sit down and tweak the settings on the phone by beach time.


I put some new batteries in my head lamp, hit the road and arrived at chilly Little Hickory at 4:50. I gotta tell ya, it felt weird in the pitch black. I had no idea what was crawling on the beach at that hour. My ninja-like reaction skills were in full effect; although I don’t know how much damage I coulda done with a shell scoop had the Creature from the Black Lagoon jumped out to get me. Peeing in your pants is not a great defense.


It is amazing to see what does come out in the dark.


So many of these guys all along the beach.


I was literally counting how many live olives I saw crawling along the sand. I stopped at fifty-five.



I was also surprised to see so many Horseshoe crabs out. They were everywhere as well. The big one appeared to be trying to push this little one along in the sand.



Ok, so why is the tide so amazingly low? Well, it’s called a Minus (or Negative) tide.

In layman’s terms, the sun and the moon happen to be on the same side of the earth, pulling on the tide at the same time. I’m no meteorologist, so I’m not speaking scientifically here, but this doesn’t happen often.

Here’s what it looked like at sunrise on Monday:


and here’s what that same spot looked like a few weeks ago.


Pretty awesome if you ask me. So many exposed shells and live creatures.


I had the place to myself for about an hour and a half. Best hour and a half I’ve had in quite some time. So peaceful, so relaxing. You really do appreciate everything you have when it’s just you, nature and your thoughts. Good time to pray and do some introspection. I kept telling myself, “Bro, you gotta do this again”.

I did have to work for the shells I found. It’s not like they were all just laying there ready to be gathered up. With a little skill as to where to look, I was able to excavate a handful of keepers. I had nowhere to rinse them off, so in the bag they went, some packed with sand.




The tide was so low, I was able to actually walk around the jetty in ankle deep water.


Just a peek inside the shell bag….


And a few cleaned off goodies, freshly dug from the sand.


This super low should be gone by Friday, so if you haven’t yet, GET OUT to the beach. And in the future, do something like this. Take the time to get out early before the beach gets overrun. You’ll have an entirely new appreciation for the beach, I promise.


14 thoughts on “Get Low, Get Low

  1. very interesting – this term low low tide has completely eclipsed my awareness but the way you explain it makes perfect sense.

    Great photos too – I never see those sea stars here.

  2. We were out there early Sunday morning. It truly was an amazing experience. Looking forward to doing it again!

    I haven’t navigated the beach in the dark alone yet. I’m sure I’d be jumping around like an idiot, thinking I heard or saw something sketchy. LOL Your description made me laugh.

    I love watching the live olives with their patterns, too, they’re very interesting to me.

    Hope to see you out there some day soon!

    • It’s definitely creepy at first. I was completely alone. I thought for certain other shellers would be out there, but no. The head lamp gave me about 20 feet of light in front of me, but it was still kinda eerie. I stopped and looked behind me several times. You know, land sharks and all. 😉 I’m sure we’ll see you out there soon

  3. peeing in your pants might just be a really good defense Tob, “it” would be laughing so hard you could then run!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Emily, mainly experience. After you’ve spent enough time on the beach, you follow the clues in the sand and go from there. Sometimes it pays off, other times you end up empty handed…so luck plays a large role too 🙂

  4. I’m visiting Sanibel with my wife this week from Seattle, flying in Sunday night staying at the Sanibel Inn. Do you have any advice about where to buy shelling stuff? We’re bringing ziplock bags and some things to transport them when we leave, but I wanted to get a little scoop, some buckets, etc. Is there a good place on the island to get them, or should we plan to drive back out to the city? Thanks for the great blog, it’s made us even more excited for our trip!

    Hopefully we have some good shelling during the week, I’ve mapped out a few spots that people list as popular. Any advice on where might be good this coming week?

    Thanks again for the great pictures and blog!

    • Joe, Ace Hardware on San Carlos and on Periwinkle on Sanibel both carry shell scoops. You may also find them in the fishing section of WalMart if you’re lucky. Plan on spending around $20-30.

      Any beach shop around here will have buckets, nets and beachy stuff for cheap, in the $1 to $2 range for buckets.

      As far as hot spots, you juuuuuust missed our negative tide for the year. No worries though! Make sure you hit Barefoot Beach and Lover’s Key. Always good shelling there. Lighthouse on Sanibel is a sure bet for mini shells. Blind Pass has been hit or miss the last month or so. Keep an eye on the tide charts (just google sanibel tide chart) and plan your beach time for low tide. Most of all, HAVE FUN!

      Thank you for reading our blog. Posts like yours make what we do worth doing!

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