Florida’s Paradise Coast is home to miles of sugar sand beaches and soothing emerald green waters. As shelling enthusiasts comb the beach for that special treasure to capture, visitors can be sure to find such wonders in Naples…and maybe even a handful of shells as well. The shelling pastime has developed into a culture filled with serious collectors and enthusiasts. Sanibel Island, famous for its shelling, has coined “The Sanibel Stoop” to describe the hunched over position one gets when on the hunt for shells. You can attend shell shows and trade shows where collectors show off their goodies and crafters show their creative side with shells. Workshops and seminars are being offered all over the state. You can even hire a fishing charter or a naturalist right in Naples that will serve as shelling guides!
Whether you care to hire a pro or go it alone, shelling can be a rewarding way to explore the waters. Shells have many uses from jewelry, home décor and home accents, coasters, gifts and more. Open any coastal home décor magazine and you’re sure to find some sort of shells being prominently displayed. Before you begin your redecorating project, check out these easy tips to make sure your shell hunting experience is enjoyable and successful:
Low tide is the best time to walk the shore in search of treasures. Check tide charts and moon phases to see when low tide will be. It’s also a good idea to know when the tide will rise, or when high tide hits, to be sure you can safely return from your adventure. Full or new moons will bring the most extreme tides which means even better shelling. Try to head to the beach just after a storm or gusty system has blown in.
Less is more – there are thousands of others who will come to these beaches in search of shells. In addition, shells can play a large part into the local eco system. Going too crazy could disturb that natural cycle. Grab a few that really catch your eye and leave the rest for someone else or for Mother Nature. She’ll thank you later.
Practice smart shelling. Taking shells with live inhabitants is generally prohibited, so be sure it’s creature free or leave it be. Remember – a shell is a hard protective exterior for sea animals. Be respectful of these guys’ homes and look for something that’s already vacant.
This may seem like common sense, but a reminder is always good: Florida sun is hot and sunburn can be a painful afterthought when you’re enjoying a relaxing vacation. Prevention is always best so apply (and re-apply) sunscreen often and wear a nice big hat to protect your head, face, and ears. Don’t forget the commonly overlooked tops of your feet too. When walking the beach barefoot your feet are exposed as well and the tops will suffer from sun exposure.
When you get home and want to clean up your shells do some research first. The common bleach and water solution is not ideal for all shells. Bleaching can have a dulling or damaging effect to certain shells. There is a variety of methods including burying (yes, in the dirt!), freezing, boiling, and even microwaving shells. For best results seek out some helpful techniques and methods geared towards the specific shell you’d like to spruce up. Then display them proudly!