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Shelling in Florida - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Days Out

There are numerous beaches in Florida that are just great for shelling and here is some advice to net you the best haul.

First of all you need to choose the right place; the best beaches for shelling are in Lee County on the south west coast of Florida. This is also known as The Gulf Coast. The barrier islands are rich with shelling opportunities.

The unusual way that Sanibel Island sits in the sea (east/west) makes it a mecca for shellers. The island is shaped like a boomerang which is great for catching some interesting shells. There is even an expression ' The Sanibel Stoop' which describes the hunched over tourist who is seeking a bucket full of shells.

Before you go, slip, slap, slop. In other words, slop on some sun screen, slip on a t shirt and slap on a hat. It is easy to underestimate the force of the sun. Insect repellant is a good idea in the summer (particularly after dark) Arm yourself with buckets and spades and a net and off you go.

Go along at low tide which obviously exposes more shells. After a storm? even better. Look where the highest waves stop or in the slight drop at the surf line. You will see a line of debris at the surf line.

When you get home you are not done. Get ready a bucket with half and half water and bleach and soak your shells overnight (all shells except for sand dollars) Rinse them off and use an old toothbrush to thoroughly clean them.

And now a bit about sand dollars; first and most importantly make sure that they are not still alive before you take them. Simply flip them over and touch their feet. If the feet waggle, they aint dead yet!

When you get them home soak them in clear water and keep refreshing the water til it loses the brown appearance. Now you must soak them in the 50/50 mix, but only for 10 minutes. Lay them out in the sun to dry.

Now for the fun bit; when they are completely dry, brush them with a 50/50 mix of glue and water; this will make the delicate shell more durable.

Among the shells you are likely to see are sand dollars, tulips, olives and paper fig shells. Less likely (but still possible) are brown speckled junonia. Consult a shell book on your return to identify them.

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