Florida Fighting Conch

Florida Fighting Conch

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Dose of Seashells and Seashore

I haven't posted in long long time and I'm sorry for that! However, I've had the busiest summer- with lots of traveling- and now that fall has come, I've started college! Yup, I'm a freshman once again 😆
However, we all need a dose of seashells and seashore, so here's some photos from my trip to Oak Island, NC this year! Btw, this is the 14th year that my family has gone to Oak Island- in fact, it's not really summer, if we don't go to Oak Island! 😊

There were some wonderful rainbows this summer on Oak Island- they spanned the whole sky from the shore to the waves.

Here's a Loggerhead hatchling making his way to the sea! We saw several turtle nest hatchings this year, and I will do a post on that shortly.

I found a wonderful Knobbed Whelk- abut 6-7 inches long.

There were many sweet, colorful little Coquinas!

Here's another colorful Coquina shell.

I found around 10 or 20 White Baby's ear shells over the 10 days that we spent on Oak Island. Based on my own experience, Baby's Ears are more common in North Carolina than on Sanibel. But maybe, that's just my luck!

I will find Wormies everywhere!

I love the dunes- they are always waving in the wind or breeze.

Waves breaking under the pier.

And a wonderful sunset, framed by the same pier!
Overall, it was a fantastic vacation, but I'm thrilled with the start of the new school year and college! Even though, the challenge level will be daunting, I'm sure that life will continue to be bright and wonderful!🙌🏻

Yaroshelllava :D

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchlings

I'm So, here's the post that I promised on Loggerhead Sea Turtles!
During my ten-day vacation on Oak Island, NC in the last weeks of August, I was extremely lucky to witness a couple sea turtle nests hatching and several sea turtle nest excavations. 

This is what a sea turtle nest looks like- you can see it towards the top of the photo- marked by the four wooden stakes. It looks just like normal sand really, but believe me- there's a turtle nest there. 
In North Carolina, especially at Oak Island, there is a good system to protect sea turtles (all five species of sea turtles are endangered). Many volunteers wait by the nests each night, waiting for them to hatch. Each morning, there is a patrol of volunteers who drive on the beach from one tip of the island to the other and look for turtle tracks coming up on the beach. The turtle tracks look like bulldozer tracks in a way, I was told, but I've never seen them before. And, at the end of the turtle tracks, near the dunes, there is evidence of a hole that was dug in the sand and covered. This is the turtle nest, and it is then marked and keep track of.
It takes 50-80 days for a turtle nest to hatch. There are between 92 and 192 eggs in each Loggerhead nest, depending on the size of the turtle mother. Loggerhead sea turtles can weigh up to 300 lbs!

Here are some hatchlings coming out! The man has a hand inside the turtle nest because he was excavating it- three days after a nest hatches, or "boils", it is excavated. This means that volunteers dig inside the nest and count the number of hatched eggs, unhatched/dead egg, unhatched but still viable eggs, and pipped eggs. Pipped eggs are those that a baby turtle broke a little, but wasn't able to get out, so it died inside the egg. Really sad! And finally, perhaps there will be several live hatchlings in the nest (as you can see in the photo above), that just hatched later than their siblings and we're still in the nest, trying to come out.

Here's a photo of some egg fragments from turtle eggs that were hatched. Loggerhead sea turtle eggs are the size of ping pong balls, and they are soft and leathery. They aren't hard because of sea turtle eggs had hard shells like chicken eggs, they would crack and break when the mother laid them into the nest.

This are four viable eggs that were found inside an excavated nest. You can see that the egg in the front has a dent in it- this is because the egg is soft.

A closeup of a Loggerhead sea turtle hatchling- isn't it ADORABLE?!!! These hatchling were about 2 inches long- tiny really!
There are five species of sea turtles world wide- Loggerhead, Green, Kemps-Ridley, Leatherback and Hawksbill. The biggest are the Leatherbacks, I think that they can be 8-10 feet in length. They are also the only sea turtle with a soft shell, it feels like leather- hence their name: "Leatherback".

On Oak Isalnd, there are only Loggerhead nests, but the volunteers told me that they keep hoping for a Green Turtle or a Leatherback. Sea turtles come back to an area of approximately a 25 mile radius within the beach where they were hatched, to lay their eggs. 

After the turtle hatchling has made his way to the water, he swims hard straight out into the ocean for two days. Then he reaches the Sargassum Sea- a region of Atlantic Ocean that is covered with a thick layer of Sargasso seaweed and lives there for several years until it reaches adulthood.
The survival rate do sea turtles is terrible- only about 1 out of 1000 babies survives until adulthood. Even when they are still inside their eggs in the nest, hatchlings are threatened by crabs, foxes and raccoons who did up the nests and eat the eggs. 
The volunteers I talked with came up with an interesting idea to keep crabs from getting into the nests: they would put a chicken bone in the dunes near the nest so that the crabs would take the bone and work on eating it for many days instead of trying to get to the eggs.

We also witnessed a night hatching- during the dark. As you can see, the hatchlings are shined upon with red light so as not to distract them. White light is not allowed near nests that are hatching because he baby turtles might mistake the light for the moon and follow it. The sea turtles follow the light of the moon toward the ocean. That's why, only red light can be used near the nests. Unless you are the volunteer with the huge flashlight who gets to be the moon and shines their flashlight so that the baby turtles can follow it towards the water
However, I met one group of volunteers who used absolutely zero light during their hatching because they wanted to make the hatching as natural as possible- meaning as if the turtles were alone and had no humans to help them.

When I was standing next to the water, and the hatchlings were rushing down towards the waves, one of the hatchling crawled over my foot. I was delighted- blessed by turtle you might say!
Another point I want to add before ending this post is that the volunteers in charge of each nest count the number of hatchlings hat come out of it. They record this and then this is added to some database about the amount of turtles hatched!
And finally, people have asked me how to see a sea turtle nest hatching. There really is no advice- you just have to be lucky. Me, I went to the beach and saw that there was a nest that was supposed to hatch "any day now" 50 feet downy eh beach. I stayed for several hours and was able to see one of natures amazing miracles! So if you want to see a sea turtle nest hatch, you just have to find a nest that is supposed to hatch and then come to the nest around 7 pm and wait for a few hours- maybe you'll get lucky!

Well, see ya later,
Lava of Ocean Dawn :D

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Let me show you some more shells that I found on my first afternoon on Sanibel!

Look at this nice Speckled Slipper Shells. I never really liked the plain slipper shells, but this different species of slipper shell really won my heart!

I found an adult Florida Fighting Conch! Although many on Sanibel consider these to be common, I'm always happy to find them.

This Gulf Oyster Frill was one the bigger minis that I found. 

A baby Horse Conch- lucky me! And on my first day too :) If someone forced me to choose my favorite shell it would be the Horse Conch. I really want to find a big empty Horse Conch to take home, but that wish hasn't come true...yet.

Look at the blue of the sky and the blue of the gulf- blue is everywhere. No wonder that it's my favorite color.

This Lightning Whelk was minuscule- probably less than half an inch

Some cyber shelling for you guys!!! See all the best Bubble Shells?

A Whelk egg casing.

The shells come in with the tide...

Connect the dots- three Pelicans in a row!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We Arrive on Sanibel!

Hi guys! Last Sunday, April 5th, I arrived on Sanibel- with my family for spring break. The reason that I'm writing posts about it right now is because, in the island, I didn't have internet access. But I have it now, so let's get started!

View of the Sanibel causeway, going to the island! We arrived around 5 pm, the tide was going out.

We stayed in a lodging on Nerita Street. As soon as we arrived on the island I ran to the beach and started going through the high tide shell line (the tide was going out).

A nice Broad-ribbed Cardita amongst the shells.

Can you find the tiny Auger in this photo?

These are Tulip shell egg casings, I'm pretty sure. I took them along, since they weren't alive. I have a collection of shell egg casings. :)

This is a Purplish Tagelus. During this trip to Sanibel I found around five pairs of these- usually I find none.

Some tiny egg casings on larger Whelk egg casings. No idea what the smaller casings are, I'm still looking into it.

Aahhhhh! A Wentletrap! I found ten in my first two hours shelling on the island!

Nice little Wormie. I didn't find too many Worm shells this time around.

Second installment coming soon!
Lava of Ocean Dawn

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jewel Boxes and Kitten's Paws

I've been sorting through my shell collection lately and realizing how similar many shells are. So here's another post with shell comparisons.
Here are my Jewel Boxes:

First is the Florida Spiny Jewel Box. These mollusks attach themselves to shells, corals and pebbles when young, but eventually become free and just lie on the sea floor. I've found these shells in North Carolina and both coasts of Florida.

Next is the Corrugate Jewel Box- it looks kinda like a deformed Kitten's Paw. I've found all my Corrugate Jewel Boxes on Sanibel.

And here is the Kitten's Paw! These little shells are scallops and they are commonly found in Florida beaches due to their toughness. However. Their left valves are most commonly found because the right valve shells remain attached to rocks and rubble.

And here's a comparison between the Corrugate Jewel Box (left) and Kitten's Paw (right). As you can see, both shells are approximately the same size and reddish-orange and white coloring. However, the Kitten's Paw has several well defined ridges that sorta look like fingers while the Corrugate Jewel Box is just a shapeless blob.

Finally, here is the beautiful and delicate Leafy Jewel Box. These shells are generally yellow, but can also be found in orange and lavender colors.

And here is a comparison of al four shells (from left to right): Leafy Jewel Box, Corrugate Jewel Box, Kitten's Paw and Florida Spiny Jewel Box. The Florida Spiny Jewel Box is the biggest and can be told apart by its spikes. The other ones are about the same size, but vary either in color or shape.

I hope that was helpful and that you'll dive into your shell collection right now to sort your Jewel Boxes!
Have fun,
Lava of Ocean Dawn :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How I Store My Shells

Shelling is fun an exciting and it's hard to control yourself whilst collecting shells. But, all of a sudden, your vacation is over and you're sitting at home with a bag or two of shells that need to be sorted and stored somehow. 
Everyone's been there! So in case any of you are struggling right now or have struggled with finding the containers for your shells, I've decided to show you what containers I use to sort and store my shells!

Here's my biggest shell box. I got it at AC Moore and I think that it's supposed to be used for beads or other small things. I like this box because you can move the little plastic walls around to make the compartments what ever size you need them to be. As you can see in the picture above, my Florida Fighting Conchs take up more room than my Alternate Tellins or Augers.

I got this little shell with removable containers at Walmart. The boxes are sturdy and will protect your fragile shells like False Angel Wings and beach beach bling like Sea Urchins. They have lids that are pretty well secured.

This is my box for my minis. I got it at AC Moore, too and it's definitely a box to hold beads. It has two big boxes (in the middle) and around 40 medium boxes (around the sides) and finally 20 tiny boxes (the ones closest to the front). It's a good sturdy case, but it can be a little hard to close the little containers sometimes.

Here's an Identification Box that I made out of an old Candy box! I cut a hole in the top of the box and taped a page protector onto it so that I could look at my shells. This is a good idea for display.

Another candy box turned into a sorting box. I use this guy to store my sharks teeth, sting ray plates and other fossils.

And finally, if you don't have any boxes, then you can always resort to the standard Ziploc bags as I sometimes do.

Drawer #1

Drawer #2

Now that you're done sorting your shells, you can stack them in a drawer, like I did above!
Happy shell sorting everyone!
See you soon,
Yaroshelllava :)

P.S. Exactly one month til I'm on Sanibel again, can't wait! Stay warm everyone! 😊