There’s nothing like strolling the waters edge for treasured mementos of a time well spent. All that is needed is a bucket, a scoop, and respect for local shelling policies.
A law that reigns supreme on Venice Beaches is: “No live-shells “. Shells collected must have no inhabitants, whether dead or alive. This is key to the future of shelling for all of us! Sand dollars, star fish and sea urchins are also strictly regulated.
The varieties of shells found on our beaches include: Conch, junonia, lightning whelk, cockle, scallop, murex, olive and coquina. Two of Florida’s most famous shells are the Lion’s Paw and the Junonia. Lion’s Paws can be found on both coasts of Florida, but you’ll only find the Junonia on Florida’s West Coast.
The most productive time of day to search for shells is at low tide, when the waves have left their daily deposit. The spring tides are the best, especially during full and new moons, when tides are at their highest and…lowest.
Where to Go:
The best place to find beautiful shells is along Caspersen Beach.
From the populated beach, head west along the shore as it curves southward to Manasota Key—about 4 miles. Leaving the other beach goers behind you’ll most likely come across not only sea shells, but shorebirds and more shark teeth in the sand. This is definitely one stretch of deserted beach where you can be absolutely on your own.
Another attraction to this remote beach location occurs during the months of May through July… when lots of sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. You’ll see their nests marked by wooden stakes and yellow tape; some covered by chicken wire to fend off raccoons and possibly some turtle tracks left in the sand.
Do go on your walk well prepared. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, a hat for shading your head, water, some food and a towel. Depending on the time of year, cool, light weight clothing is highly recommended as cover from the intensity of the sun.
Identifying your shells:
The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum has a great online shell guide that will help you recognize the various pieces in your collection. To browse shells commonly found in South West Florida, Click: HERE.