Still Thankful….

I originally posted this blog two years ago in November of 2013 and our thoughts stay the same. Recently, so many things have taken over our blogging time and I regret that I have not updated this site as much as I would have preferred. Under normal circumstances, we would be bummed out. However, we’re more than blessed to have so much going on in our lives. So I’m reposting the blog (with a few adds).

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The time of year has come where suddenly social media explodes with an influx of “thankful” posts and pictures and TV inundates us with commercials for turkey, Black Friday and Christmas. It’s a shame that big business has turned a trait that we should carry in our hearts 24/7 without even thinking it into worldwide commercialism. But that’s a topic for my other blog, “Things That are Wrong with America”.

Kidding, of course. But I think you get what I’m saying.

But never the less, this does happen to be the season where we talk about what we’re thankful for. I don’t want this post or topic to sound trite, so I had to dig deeper than the normal “I’m thankful for my family” mantra. Of course we are all thankful for our families. But what else are we thankful for? Truly thankful for?

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I’m thankful for the readers of this blog and our followers on social media. You all really make doing this a worthwhile endeavor. We appreciate the emails and comments we receive when we make a post or drop a new blog entry. The Queen and I are purpose-driven people. When something we say or do makes an impact on peoples’ lives, it gives us purpose. Someone (you know who you are, and Thank You) said the other day that we “capture the soul of shelling“. That made us feel like a million bucks, because that’s exactly what we try to do and someone recognized it.

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I think it goes without saying, but I am thankful to live in such an amazing place with a top notch climate. I have not seen snow in several years and hope to never see it again. Sub-zero weather? Bye Bye. Not to long ago, we had to take a trip North and spent some time in New York City (and more recently to Chicago to see our son, who is a Sailor serving and protecting our country in the greatest Navy in the world).

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We bought coats. I don’t plan on ever wearing mine again. I love that I can wear shorts every single day of the year. I do not take that for granted. Ever.

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I’m thankful that we’re literally 2-5 hours from a number of major beaches, including the beautiful Florida Keys. I’m so thankful that when I wake up on weekends, our major decision for the day is which beach to visit. I do not say that to rub it in to anyone’s face. Believe me, I have lived in the North so I feel your pain, Northern friends. But the ability to do this anytime I want:

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That is true happiness and something I am VERY thankful for. We travel often, and I am thankful for the ability to do that and for a top shelf travel buddy (The Queen) who loves new adventures. We have a big cruise coming up in January and we are beyond excited (and so thankful).

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I’m thankful for the shell finds of my fellow shellers and bloggers. Yep, it’s true. Fellow shellers/bloggers like The Shellinator, The Shellady, Karen The Esssential Beachcomber, Captain Brian, Seashells and Salty Air, Gulf Coast Sea Breeze, Kim and Chablis from Snug Harbor Bay and others – some folks may think there is a rivalry or competition between us local shellers here but I assure you, there is not. Sure, there certainly is a “Dang, I wish I’da found that!”. But when fellow shellers text each other with our finds of the day, or ask, “Are we gonna see you and the Queen today?”, it tells me otherwise. Many of us are friends outside of the blogs. I am thankful for that.

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I am thankful for the peace that passes all understanding. I find that for me, sunshine and warm weather bring me a peace that I didn’t feel when I was cold and the sun was hidden. I promise you, each time I am able to do this:

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I do not forget to tell God, “thank you for this”.

I know I have made quite a few blog posts about what I am thankful for in the past and perhaps it may seem a bit redundant to read it again and again – but I am thankful. I know where I came from and to be where I am today (by the grace of God) is simply too fantastic to not be thankful for. I could make this blog ten pages long about what I am thankful for, believe that.

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So I challenge you this Thanksgiving week – think hard when you dwell on what you are thankful for. It is easy to be thankful for your job, your home and your family. But just like searching for that buried keeper shell in the sand – dig deep and stay thankful this week.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, friends. God bless you all.

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Shark Fishing and Swimmers

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So there’s been some scuttlebutt on the island as of late regarding fishing, shark fishing and swimmers/snorkelers. Now, I’m not privy to the graphic details of conversations, but I am aware of the gist of them. I won’t go into all of that right here, but I will give my opinion on the entire situation and leave it at that.

Let me first say that I love fishing. I grew up fishing. I still fish now and then. I support our fishermen and encourage them to fish. I enjoy sharks – thoroughly, actually. As a child I was obsessed with them. I could tell you anything about any species. If I could have had one in my bathtub as a pet, I would have. Now as an adult, I still love sharks. I still have a respectable knowledge of them. I don’t fear them necessarily, but I do respect them and their habitat.

The backstory:

About two weeks ago, my friend and I decided to go diving for shells. Our first choice didn’t look like a good spot that morning, so we decided to meet at Blind Pass. We’d snorkel the Sanibel side, move across the channel and hit the Captiva side all the way up North. We didn’t find much luck on the Sanibel side, so we moved to the Captiva side.

Within 3 minutes of hitting the water at the Captiva jetty (my friend 5 feet behind me), I came face to face with a Blacktip shark – literally an arm’s length away as I stood in 4 feet of water (see the pic below of the location – X marks the spot, even though this is an older picture and the jetty doesn’t quite look like that now). He was small, maybe 3, 3 ½” feet, but he startled me. I startled him as he darted away quickly. After catching my breath (haha) we dove down and within a few feet from us was a very large ray head. It was a good foot and a half chunk. This was what our shark friend was nibbling on. Disturbing, I know.

How many of you reading this have stood in that exact spot?

I know, right?

As we continued to dive North, we came across quite a bit of bait/chum. Fileted fish, fish heads, chunks of meat, you name it….and the two of us were clearly getting more and more angry as we moved along. At one point (and keep in mind it’s about 8-8:30am now), a fisherman clearly fishing for shark hopped in his kayak and headed out, passing us by no more than a few feet. We continued to dive and collect shells and on our way back I didn’t notice a line in the water. When I came up for air, the fisherman whistled at me and gave me an aggressive gesture to move away from his line….and he was camped about 15 feet from the jetty….a jetty area that’s absolutely crawling with swimming tourists, locals and children throughout the Summer months – and the water isn’t always crystal clear since the Okeechobee overflows. Emphasis on the words “swimming” and “children”.

Now as I mentioned previously, I fully support our fishermen. I just don’t support them fishing where people swim. I don’t support tossing unused bait in the water after a long night of shark fishing and I don’t support day fishing for shark where people swim. It’s asinine. This situation below is an example. Now picture a bunch of children to the left and five more fishermen on the right.

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There is an understanding on certain beaches locally. At Lighthouse Beach, fishermen gather near the pier. They don’t fish along the Western beach where the swimmers gather (as you can see below – no fishermen).

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This goes for Bowman Beach as well. Why this respect is not extended at Blind Pass/Turner Beach is beyond me. Common sense tells me that if someone is in the water swimming, don’t cast a line in the water. But some fishermen still do. Ok, maybe a 3 foot blacktip shark isn’t going to hurt much. Now replace that with a hungry 6 foot bull shark.

Sanibel Island is known for one thing – Shelling. It is the Mecca of the shelling world. It is not however, the shark fishing capital of the world. Sharks in a way are like dogs. If you leave out food in a certain area, they will eventually learn to feed there. Turner Beach is becoming that area.

Some are calling for a buffer zone – 200 yards from the Turner Beach jetty extending North there should be absolutely no fishing. I agree with that view.

I have heard, “But we were here first! If you see our poles in the water, go swim somewhere else!”

Nope. Read up a couple of paragraphs. Sanibel is known for shelling and swimming. That’s what people come here to do. So they were here first. Not you. You wanna fish over the bridge into the pass? Go ahead. No one is swimming there.

One day someone’s going to get bitten at Turner Beach. Perhaps, someone’s child.

At that point everything will change…but then it will be too late.