By Dee Paul
Kitten’s paw, Jingle, Turkey wing, Ark, Slipper shell, Coquina: what beautiful names for the common shells in plentiful supply on our beaches here in Venice. Who doesn’t love beach combing for seashells? There’s something so incredibly refreshing about walking along the seashore looking for shells, especially when you are here on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Walk for a while on Venice Beach, which is rated by shellers to be one of the top 6 shelling spots in Florida, and allow yourself to be rejuvenated by the salt air breezes, the soothing sounds of waves, seagull cries and the magnificent color combination of sand, sky, and beach life. Did you know that the state of Florida has over 1,300 miles of shoreline to explore? And, even though Florida covers more than 65,000 square miles, when you are here, you are never farther than 70 miles from either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico!
All of those shorelines afford many opportunities for shelling. In fact, shellers in the know have put together a list of the best beaches nearby. Venice Beach, just steps from your room here at Inn At The Beach is a great beach to find all sorts of treasures, including fossilized prehistoric shark’s teeth. Sanibel, 2 hours south of here, is a barrier island which sits sort of sideways in the Gulf and catches an abundance of shells. Captiva is well-known for having a variety of shells on its beaches. Little Talbot Island is a sheller’s paradise on the Atlantic Coast north of Jacksonville. For those fortunate enough to have access to a boat, Cedar Key and Caladesi Island State Park are fun seashores to explore.
You never know what you might find on the beach, because obviously, the beaches change every day.It’s been said that coordinating your treasure hunt with the phases of the moon can be advantageous. A full moon or a new moon cause the most extreme tides and may cause the perfect treasure to float in, just for you. Additionally, staying here at our beautiful Inn allows you to arise early in the morning and take advantage of the overnight sea offerings!
What can you do with all those seashells? Well, here in the lobby of our hotel, employee Cassandra has filled several glass bowls and jars with beautiful shells and starfish to enhance our décor. You will see on display a variety of colorful shells, including Pink Murex, Angel conch’s, Augers, Tulips, Whelks, Junonia, and Starfish. Our guests love to share their beach finds with us. There are almost endless possibilities for creating one of a kind treasures to keep or share as special gifts. Shells can be used to create unique wine glasses, Christmas ornaments, painted shells, wind chimes, lawn ornaments, walkways, mailboxes, mirrors, jewelry, frames, boxes, table centerpieces, napkin holders, lamps, chandeliers, nightlights, headbands, barrettes, wall décor, fish tank décor, you name it!
If you go into Sirene Coastal Interiors along Venice Avenue, you will find a “bedroom” filled with gorgeous shell-themed accessories. Seashells cover the bed frame, the chandelier, the mirrors, and other décor creations. One of the most popular shops on Venice Avenue, Sea Treasures and Pleasures, has an entire room dedicated to shells and fossils.There you will find a huge variety of shells for purchase. Baskets are provided and children especially like to pick out their favorite shells to use for crafts or display. (A simple project for a young child to complete is to glue small shells on a cardboard cut- out of a palm tree or starfish or fish). Many shell craft items are available to purchase. You may find it easy to find many of the smaller shells on the beach itself (for free) of course, and then you can augment your finds with the purchase of larger, more ornate shells, found in the shops. Along with shell items, the Venice Avenue gift shops offer many kinds of jewelry, silver and gold, with sea related themes: seahorses, starfish, ships, nautical items and the like. Furniture can also be found decorated with nautical maps, marine creatures and beach themes. Even our flip flops are covered with shells and fanciful beach artistry!
See how well you do on our fun little quiz of shell knowledge:
Which of the following is a sea curiosity found on the beach?
a. Sand ruler
b. Mermaid’s purse
c. Seahorse bridle
What is the biggest seashell in the world?
a. Oyster shell
b. Queen Conch
c. Coiled Ammonite
Which of these famous people was an avid seashell collector?
a. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
b. Mary Shelley
c. Ian Fleming
Seashells began their existence as:
c. Bony bivalves
You can hear the ocean from shells due to:
a. Wave sound permanently imprinted on the shell
b. The echo of your own blood
c. Ambient noise in the room
b. A mermaid’s purse is a skate egg case, rectangular shaped, black in color.
c. A coiled ammonite can be 6 feet in diameter.
b. Seashells are the external skeletons of a type of sea creatures called mollusks.
c. It’s impossible to hear noise coming from a shell in a soundproof room. The sound of waves is the ambient noise in the room vibrating in the seashell.