I decided to go back to the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach this afternoon, to see what I could see. Directly to the right of the fishing pier was a Sea of Stink – all the beached pen shells where heaped in a tidal pool, slowly dying. There were some pickin’s to be had in there, but the stench was nauseating, so I continued down the beach. A pair of young ladies, one of whom I’d seen engaged in the same activity yesterday, were on a mission to rescue all of the lightning whelks that were once again stuck in between the roots of the mangroves. They had one of those GIANT beach bags, bright pink, and they were filling it up and relocating the stranded souls to a tidal pool, closer to the surf.
Right smack dab in front of the lighthouse, I found this pair of monsters, all snuggled up together just below the surface of the sand. They were right under the breaker line, so I did not see them – I felt them through my shoes. I took my trusty net-on-a-stick and used the aluminum edge to pry them up. I was SHOCKED that they were empty. Hadn’t seen any empties of this size since Tropical Storm Debby dumped them all there.
I always wonder what makes a whelk change colors and patterns midstream in the making of the shell. Was it something she ate? Did the environment change? I have not come across any really good answers about this phenomenon.
After hunting a little longer in front of the lighthouse, and finding the tulips there, I walked back toward the pier. When I got close, I found this mac ‘n cheese (juvenile horse conch), and it made me smile. It’s a good shelling day, whenever you find mac ‘n cheese. I found the rest of the whelks you see in the first picture in rapid succession after that, just to the right of the pier, in the breaker line. I was pretty happy with my treasures, and made my contented way home shortly thereafter.
I’ve got just a few more pictures to share from my afternoon foray onto the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach, plus some videos that are percolating on YouTube and should be ready shortly.
Here’s the parking lot again, the one closest to the fishing pier. Normally, there are abundant spaces in this lot, but today they are limited by the flood left behind by Tropical Storm Debby.
Chemicals called tannins are exuded from the roots of mangrove trees growing on the beach, which is what gives the water its reddish hue. I thought the reflection of the egret was pretty; wish I’d had something other than an iPhone in my hand, so I could have zoomed, but it is what it is! The reflection from the gnarled trees looks especially spooky in the red-tinged water.
I thought it curious that so many banded tulips were clustered around these two pen shells. It seems unlikely that they are preparing to feast. Banded tulips would typically go after much smaller fare. Curiouser and curiouser!
This trap, which washed up directly in front of the Lighthouse, didn’t appear to have snared anything before coming ashore.
Poor wee turtles! Storms are not good for turtle nests. They can change the temperature of the nest, causing the eggs to fail. Storms can compact the sand, making it impossible for hatchlings to dig their way out. They can also remove sand from the nest, exposing the eggs to the elements and to predators. It is not likely that a washed-over nest is viable any more.
Crossing the causeway, jamming out to No Doubt on the radio. SO, so happy that there’s sun!
A live horse conch rolls around in the surf. I estimate it was about 14″ long. Never get over the shock of what color they actually are, underneath the shell and the dark black periostracum that covers it.
I saved the best for last – unbelievable quantity of live shells in the tidal pool and well above it! I posted it to Facebook; should be visible to all https://www.facebook.com/MyMobileAdventures/posts/316120388480932?notif_t=like
Hoping to go back again on Thursday and maybe even on Friday, to see what happened to all the live ones – stay tuned!