Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why we love Sanibel Island ...

We love vacationing on Sanibel Island in Florida for many reasons, but one reason is that Sanibel and Captiva islands are two barrier islands with an unusual East-West orientation which allows for shells to roll up gently onto the shore without being battered and broken.  With our little shelling books in hand, the kids can now identify most every shell they pick up by name - from welks, to banded tulips, alphabet cones, and my personal favorite, the shark eye. 

 My personal favorite, the "Shark Eye". 
We have collected so many shells over the years, which we display in glass containers,
that the shark eye is the only shell I pick up and collect anymore.

(Do be aware though that if there is a living animal in the shell you pick up, by law you need to throw it back.  This includes sand dollars, sea urchins and star fish as well.  But there are plenty of empty shells to collect and fill your pockets with.)

In addition to the shells, there are all kinds of interesting sea specimens trapped in the tidal pools for curious kids to pick up and examine. 

We monitor the tide charts each day so we know when "low tide" is and we have learned from experience that for Sanibel, it's best to be walking the beach 2 - 2.5 hours BEFORE the scheduled low tide. 

The littlest kids love to pick up the teeniest tiniest hermit crabs they can find and compare them to each other.  At low tide this year, there were hundreds upon hundreds of hermit crabs, many of them sparring with each other, in the tidal pools.

The sand dollars were plentiful this year as well.  When they are alive, they are covered with short, bristly little "hairs" that they use to "walk" across the sandy ocean floor.  They usually bury themselves about 1/4" below the surface of the sand and you can find them easily with your toes. 

You can feel the "hairs" moving as you hold them, and if you hold one for too long, they turn your hands a bright yellow.  You'll rarely find a dead sand-dollar because they are so fragile and they break easily leaving small fragments instead of the whole sand-dollar.  The local beach stores have preserved and bleached sand-dollars and starfish for puchase as souvenirs.

 Sea Urchin

Walking the beach at low tide to discover shells and sea life is one of the kids' favorite everyday activities on Sanibel Island, with fishing a close rival!


autumn's dizzy thoughts said...

I wanna go! I lived in Florida until i was 19 (Panama City, then Ft. Lauderdale)- but have never been to Sanibelle~!

Heidi said...

Ahhh makes me want to head back to the beach .. such beautiful pictures!! Enjoy God's beautiful creatures

Becky Lee Burk said...

Wow those are a lot of shells! Looks like so much fun, I'm green with jealousy over here :)

Carol said...

Can't wait. Going there for vacation for the first time in a few weeks. Your pictures are beautiful!

Thomas Family said...

So beautiful! Rob grew up going to Sanibel every spring break. We love Hilton Head but after seeing these photos, Sanibel might have to be it next year! I hope you were all COVERED in sunscreen. Your previous post scared the pants off me!!!