Category Archives: Captiva

Plunder from the 2:00 AM sea shell raid

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*

Plunder from the 2:00 AM sea shell raid

Hi there, I’m back among the land of the living! After pulling the all-nighter to go on a beach raid at Blind Pass, I put in what turned out to be a challenging day at work. Chris called circa lunchtime and said she was sick! So she could not come down for the weekend.

It’s probably just as well. Although I do not want her to be sick, I crashed and burned really early last night – around 7:00 PM! I woke up at three and amused myself for a few hours, then went back for a few more hours and didn’t get up again until 9:00. Boy that felt good!

And now for the shells (ta-da!). Below you can find the whole haul. As you can see, many, many whelks and figs were found. The dark things in a sort of zig zaggy column on the right are the OPERCULII (hi, Gary!). In the lower left corner, there’s a bivalve – I have no idea what this shell is. It’s sort of like a jingle, only thicker and not transluscent, but it is shiny like a jingle is. I’m going to have to drag out the shell books and investigate. If anyone reading this knows what it is, would you please leave a comment, or else email me at BellTinkR at gmail dot com? Thanks!

NOTE: Labeled version of this photo can be found in my Flickr Photostream

Below, a couple of close-ups of the biggest whelk. It’s around 5 inches long and 3 inches wide – just a hair or two larger than the big whelk I found at the same beach on Labor Day.

Here’s the “rejects” or “junk” pile. As mentioned before, sometimes with night shelling you cannot really judge with just a flashlight. You might miss a rough edge or a crack, and then you get the shell home and realize it’s not up to par. Other times, you toss things in the bucket and break something, or else jiggling on the way home breaks it, In any case, these will be put to good use outside as erosion control, in the place where rain water shoots off the roof and tries to dig a hole in my lawn.

Man, I’m STILL tired! I think I need a hearty breakfast and screw the calorie count for today (trying to lose the “I haven’t smoked in 7 months” weight). I’m tempted to take myself to Denny’s or Perkins for brunch!

BIG pile of sea shells at Blind Pass!

© Copyright 2008 Tink *~*~*
BIG pile of sea shells at Blind Pass!
NOTE: if you are looking for Skywatch, please scroll down to the next post!

Strategizing with Tootie via email, text, and finally just a plain old phone call last night. We noted that high tide at Blind Pass (between Sanibel Island and Captiva Island) would be more or less midnight, and low tide would be more or less 4:00 AM. Thus was born the idea of a 2:00 AM Booty Raid. We agreed I’d get to the house around 1:15 AM.

Earlier in the evening, it had been determined that Friday after work, Chris would drive down to hang out with me here in Lehigh, and we could drive out to the beach and la di dah all weekend. So I whiled away some of the time by making sure the guest room was dusted and vacuumed, and that it had clean sheets on the bed, and I also cleaned the guest bath and added fresh towels, etc. Texted Chris to let her know what I was doing and got back a “w00t!”

Got in the car at 12:30 AM. Going over the causeway toward Sanibel Island, I realized that not only was it coming off of high tide, but the sea was just FULLER somehow. I guess that is compliments of Hurricane Ike (God bless and save those poor people in Texas), and I wonder how long it will take to recede. Arrived at Gary’s a wee bit too early, but that’s ok because I got to take the tour of the amazing sea shells they’d found the night before. There’s at least one eye-poppingly huge whelk among their treasures, and I got to see some of the incomplete junonias but the whole one was buried in the bucket somewhere. Tootie had gotten some operculums, which she gave to me, and I went back and forth with Gary a bit on whether or not the plural of “operculum” is really “operculii”. At the very least, it made him giggle, so I think I shall say “operculii” from now on. He accuses me of liking and collecting operculii because I like saying the word. There might be some truth to that. I just remember being thrilled the first time I found one and it suddenly dawned on me what it was! I thought it was way too cool for words to find an operculum.

Finally it was time to go. We all piled into the car and made our way down San-Cap Road to Blind Pass. I looked at the clock on the dashboard as we drove; it said 1:38 AM. The tide was still pretty high, and one section of the parking lot was roped off due to storm erosion. I decided to be on the cocky, confident side and left my mesh bags in the car in favor of a large blue bucket. It’s not a sand pail. It is the size for mopping the floor. I wanted to send a strong signal to The Universe that I was prepared to haul in quite a bit of booty as we raided the coast of Santiva.

The pile was MUCH more vast than it had been on Labor Day. It stretched from the rock jetty all the way back to nearly the start of the Sanibel side of the bridge, and it was very wide. The backside of the pile thinned out but still kept going a fair distance toward the bridge. On the surf side, it was like cliffs that dropped abruptly and steeply toward the sea. The waves were not huge, but they were rougher than normal.

Once again, the order of the day for me seemed to be whelks and figs. If pen shells were worth something on the open market, I could have retired on what could have been picked up there last night. Pen shells, pen shells EVERYWHERE. If you dared to wade in the surf, they would pelt you in the shins when a wave came. The other thing that was present in abundance was live cockles. They were just everywhere. If they showed some initiative (chattering, actually pedding about), they got a rescue. Also found several live mac and cheese, banded tulips and whelks – and one LIVE paper fig! I’ve never seen one of those live before.

There was one spot we kept watching as the tide went out. There was some sort of natural split in the pile, about in the middle I guess – certainly, aligned with about the middle of the bridge – and right after that split, there was a spot where you could see stuff in the surf, but you could not really get to it because of the aforementioned shin-pelting that would result if you tried to stand out there and scoop. Those pen shells REALLY become the secret weapons of the sea. It’s her way of saying, “Oh no, you did NOT just try to plunder my booty!” However, it was possible to scurry down there during a receding wave, snatch something, and scramble back up to the relative safety of the top of the pile before getting “shelled” with missiles again. One such time, Gary was able to scoop up a great prize with his claw – a moon snail/shark eye the size of a doorknob! WTG, Gary!

As the tide went out, it dragged stuff off the pile, revealing other stuff, and then it would fling still more stuff back up onto the pile. Tootie found more OPERCULII for me there at the sea-side edge of the pile, and there was a constant fresh supply of figs – figs, figs, everywhere you looked there were figs and more figs! It’s been like this since Hurricane Fay several weeks ago – abundant supplies of paper figs from the Lighthouse all the way out to Blind Pass. It makes you wonder what could have happened out there on the bottom of the sea to cause SO many of one species to die and send their exoskeletons up to the shore for collection.

Finally, we were pretty much done. My bucket was more than half full. At no time did we see the pile last night in daylight, so there are no photos. I think Tootie might have some on her blog from the day before (and you should go there anyhow and see if she has posted a photo of her junonia!).

We piled back into the car and headed back to the house. I did a pee break and headed for home. Put the bucket right in the kitchen sink and added water and bleach. Stripped off salty clothing, showered, and fell into bed at 5:55 am, first setting the clock for 7:30 am. Was online to work by 8:00 am. Have been working on this report between phone calls most of the day.

I don’t have any photos yet. After the shells are clean and laid out to dry, I will photograph them. I have the feeling I need to go buy more bleach….

Some booty from the weekend (SHELLS!)

Got a text message from Gary around 1:30 am on Sunday (actually, it was 2:30 am, since that was when we “sprang ahead”, but I hadn’t changed my clocks yet). Amazed, actually, that I even heard the cell phone announcing the text message, since I was asleep! Lo and behold, the message said, “Get your ass out here” and showed a photo of a flashlight beam illuminating a mountain of shells!

So I drove out to the beach, stopping at 7-11 for coffee. It was windy, it was cold, there were SHELLS like you wouldn’t believe! We shelled for probably 2.5 hours and then went to Jerry’s for breakfast and to get warm. We came back when it was light out, but by that time our defenses were down – we hadn’t really slept, and we’d been cold for a LONG time, so we decided to pack it in. However, we were glad that we went back because I quickly found about 2/3 of a junonia, just rummaging on the surface of the pile.

The Pile at Blind Pass

Above, the pile at Blind Pass. This is to the immediate right of the rock jetty as you face the Gulf. Probably the biggest pile I’ve seen to date in my life!

Above, Gary digs into the pile with his claw. We’re not long for this beach; at this point, we’ve been awake too long and our defenses against the cold are WAY down. I think the initial adrenaline was protecting us somewhat, but when it wore off, we were toast!

The haul is going into a bleach bath (minus the olives; don’t want their shine to wear off). That shiny thing in the center is a dime sitting on top of a moon snail.

Break out the blue towel!

Above, we have the entire haul. Not bad for a couple of hours work. The amount of tulips was amazing, and I was surprised at how very little live stuff was in the pile. It was all basically very clean; I didn’t rinse anything before putting it into my collection bag, as the sea was EXTREMELY rough and I didn’t want to get soaked. When I got it all home and rinsed it in the dishpan, I was surprised at how little sand came back with me.

Ah, what makes me happier than mac-n-cheese? Insert hand-clapping smiley here! These cleaned up really nicely; a little mineral oil went a long way on the slightly chaulky look of some of them.

The pile was kind to me in terms of mac-n-cheese and cones, too. And let’s not forget my first-ever junonia! You can see above, he’s a little dude, and if I turned him over, you’d see a hole. I’m reckoning that’s about 2/3 rds of a junonia. I also found a random piece of one (not pictured).

Illegal maneuvers?

Is it legal to do the “Sanibel Stoop” on Captiva? Here we see Chris, Kim and Tootie all searching with their flashlight for something, anything. Kim actually found TWO fan shells. I found one too, but it was incredibly beat up. Still, first fan shell I ever found. Also found a small whelk, a turban, an apple murex, and a pink auger.

After a while, we all headed back to the car. It was incredibly foggy, and moisture clung thickly to the windows. I wish to report that I kept to the speed limit, made complete stops at the appropriate controlled intersection, and did not put us into a swale or bike path. I, um, had my glasses on.

When we got back to Gary’s, the house kept dripping on us. We basically all put on our PJs, brushed our teeth an hit the sack.

Captiva "cliffs" at Blind Pass, aka Turner Beach

There was a surprise ledge of more than a foot right by the rock jetty, composed nearly entirely of shells. Well, pieces of shells, anyway. This is a rough beach. Things get dashed against the rocks and smashed to bits. The cliff is immediately followed by a sharp slope downward into the water, and the waves were “right there”, so none of us jumped down.

Geeze it’s freakin’ DARK out here!

Circa 1:00 AM, we decided to leave. I took custody of the car keys, and we drove a short distance to Blind Pass. Gary and Tootie keep flashlights in the car for such purposes. We wuz goin’ shell huntin’! To the right, we see the lovely Kim posing next to a sign that explicitly instructs the reader as to the advisability of parking ON the beach. Wisely, I chose to position the vehicle in one of the marked spaces provided.

Tween Water!

Someone ordered me a bottle of Tweenie’s very own water. Chris decided we needed to photograph it a la Food and Wine Festival. Clearly, she appreciates this water as indicated by the upwardly extending (and thoroughly opposable, I am sure) thumb.

The Crow’s Nest

Here we are at The Crow’s Nest. The band was called The Modulators. I thought they were OK. One of the singers was often off-key and/or talk-sung a lot. The crowd seemed to like them ok. They play an ecclectic selection of tropical resort fare.

When you walk into The Crow’s Nest, you come in through a wide front porch. The area in which you enter has a big screen TV where you can sit and watch “the game” – whatever game happens to be going on at the time, I guess. Then there is the bar area with the stage and a small-ish dance floor in front of it, and a section of tables. There is also a back section of tables, which muffles the overly-loud band a bit, and a little patio out back where you can go out and escape the noise or have a smoke. There was a dog tied up out there last night. Lots of people seemed to know this dog; one guy claimed the dog was the mayor of Captiva.

We headed for the back section and took over one end of a very long table. Here’s the gang sans Gary. Those pink-red drinks are called Washington Apple. Very fragrant and tasty. I had a Corona and then switched to water. I’m not a very good drinker, I’m afraid.

Mood lighting

This is a light fixture near the elevator at Tweenie’s. I thought it was pretty cool, so it’s going on the blog.