Thursday, April 21, 2011

On the Hunt for...Shark's Teeth!

If you are looking for a fun way to spend the day or just an afternoon, then make your way to one of the beautiful beaches of Manasota Key, FL. As soon as you get to the barrier island off the coast of Englewood, you know these people value what's important in life~seashells!

The island has no traffic lights, no high rises and lots of charm. There are four parks to visit on the island, Englewood Beach, Manasota Beach, Blind Pass and Stump Pass. I had heard about all the shark teeth to be found on Manasota Key and had to see for myself. So a month ago some friends and I headed out on a roadtrip, on the hunt for shark teeth and other unique fossils washed ashore from the ancient fossil beds just off shore. 

We met up with friend and fellow blogger, Karen Blackford, of The Essential Beachcomber, who gave us a few pointers on finding the shark teeth and she brought along a shell scoop for scooping up loads of shell crush to sift through on our search.

The first thing I noticed about these beaches is the color~grey to almost black. The darker the sand the more likelihood there is of finding fossils.

At the end near the pass, we found sweet spot of shell crush, mounds of larger crushed shell that is loaded with shark's teeth.
(click on the photo for a closer view)

After a long afternoon of searching, we came home tired, sunburnt and happy and loaded down with cool fossils and shark teeth. Take a look~
All shapes and colors~

These are puffer fish mouth plates.

Petrified Wood

Larger Partial Teeth

I decided Mom had to see this! I called up Karen and she met us there yesterday for another hunt!

The crushed shell lined the beach. There were so many shark teeth that it was not uncommon for us to find 4, 5, or even 6 in a single pass! Mom started the day with 2 1/2  teeth in her collection.....

...and came home with 157 from Manasota Key!

And while I thought I had had a good day the last time with over 100 perfect shark's teeth...

I blew it out of the water this time by finding 247!

Karen found this big beauty!

I'm not quite sure what this is~I think it the tooth of some large mammal, maybe a horse. I was taken aback by the beautiful black and white detail~can you say pendant?

I'm pretty sure from what I've been told this is Mammoth tooth. You can see the layers in the enamel of the tooth. This is a beautiful specimen, with streaks of gold through the white parts of the tooth.
(Remember to click the photo for a closer view~this one deserves a closer look.)

Other odd fossils and larger partial shark teeth.

Some of my beauties!

The different colors in the teeth are caused by the type of sediment it nestled in for its long sleep, which can be as long as millions of years.

Manasota Key is my newest favorite place to visit. With its old school charm and fabulously fun beaches, here's another to add to your list of beaches to see!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Low Tide at the 10 Spot

Wow! The 10 Spot was Alive last night! We lucked out and hit the beach just as low tide was peaking.

It was the lowest tide I have ever observed at the 10 Spot and what a treat! There were lots of live lightning whelks and even a few pear whelks out and about. Usually at a low tide, I can find the lightning whelks by looking for the tip of the shell sticking up out of the sand like this...

But last night they were all on the prowl, roaming around in the shallows waiting for their photo ops!

And there were lots of them~

Live pear whelks are not as common as the live lightning whelks, so finding a couple of these guys was a real treat!

I also found my first ever live king's crown! What a beauty she is~look at her pretty spots!

Then I spotted a surf clam trying to make his way across the sea floor~

But the highlight of the evening by far was getting to see and hold a huge live shark's eye! I noticed him as I was filming the clam, just a couple feet away and he was gigantic! I had never seen one as big as this and never a live one either. As you can see, the live animal is probably twice as big as its shell. That's because its inflated with water. When the water is expelled the entire animal can retract into its shell.


I have said it before and I will say it again "I LOVE low tide shelling!" It is so much fun to see all these creatures alive and well and living on our wonderful sea shore!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The 10 Spot

Little Hickory Island Beach Park, more affectionately known as "the 10 spot", is the 10th and last free beach access as you travel north on Little Hickory Blvd from Bonita Springs towards Ft Myers Beach. Its easy to miss since it sits in the fork of the road as you leave the island and head over the Estero Bay Bridge.

The best parking is across the street from the beach in Beach Park North. It offers free parking with plenty of spaces, covered picnic tables and grills.

If you prefer to park closer to the beach, and don't mind the small hourly fee, park on the beach side. Here you will find bathrooms, showers, and more picnic tables.

My beloved 10 spot~

I discovered this little jewel of a beach last spring. Two rock jetties surround crystal blue water creating a lagoon like setting with native sea oats...

...and dune sunflowers as a backdrop.

And if you are lucky, you'll get to see one of the gopher tortoises that make their homes here. After frolicking in the "lagoon" and climbing around the rocks, follow the trail up over the hill and there....
you will find...

....a sheller's paradise!
 Just watch the video and see if you dont agree!

With so many wonderful shells, you can see why any sheller would love this beach. But even if I never found another shell there, this would still be a favorite of mine for its sheer beauty. With its rocky outcrops, crystal clear water, flocks of birds and pristine white beaches, it is the pure definition of paradise. I have tried to capture the awesome beauty of this beach~Enjoy!