Whether you’re a casual sheller or avid shell-seeker-extraordinaire, we thought you’d enjoy this guide that includes several of the most common and most rare shells on Sanibel Island.
7 Most Common Sanibel Shells
You’ve seen these white scallop shells. They cover the beaches on Sanibel! There are multiple shells that fall under this category, including the Transverse Ark and Ponderous Ark, which look similar, but are in fact different shell-types.
Again, there are many different types of conch. The ones more commonly found on the beaches of Sanibel are the smaller fighting conch shells (small and wide), the kings crown conch (more spikes on crown), and the horse conch (slim spiral body) which I read might not actually be a part of the true conch family.
Speaking of spirals, worm snails take the cake! I’ve always loved finding these unique-looking spiral shells that pop-out amongst the dozens of scallop shells.
It has a somewhat similar look as a scallop, but the cockle is its own species. Actually, I read that it’s more rare in other parts of the world, even though we have a plethora on our beaches!
Such a fun shell name to say! These little shells are sometimes found with both halves still together, which sort of resemble angle wings (though that’s a different shell). They are shiny, and can be different colors and even different patterns.
These remind me a bit of the worm snail shells, but are shaped more like a cone or horn than a spiral. The Cerith has a similar look as the Boring Turret and Auger shell as well!
Smooth as olives! Okay maybe that has nothing to do with olives. But the shell’s family name is Olividae. Check out the different growth stages of the olive shells below.
7 Most Rare Sanibel Shells
Of course this at the top of the list. We all know how unique of a find the Junonia shell can be. It’s a special treat for any sheller who finds a Junonia!
Lion’s Paw Scallop Shell
You’ve likely found a few Kitten’s Paws, which have a similar look but are a much smaller shell. The Lion’s Paw is large and usually a vibrant red or orange color.
These snail shells are sometimes called “staircase shells”, and “ladder shells”. In Dutch, Wenteltrap means spiral staircase. This would be a rare find on our beaches.
Scotch Bonnet Shell
A true beauty! As you can see in the image below, this shell has a unique and gorgorious profile from all angles.
While maybe the Murex family of shells aren’t an extremely rare shell on Sanibel, they are very fragile shells, and therefore, hard to find a full-sized shell in good condition. The Murex Pecten, pictured below, is extremely fragile. While other’s in the family, like the Apple Murex, has a stronger shell.
Turkey Wing Shells
Alright I had to do some research to find a few other rare shells, and I fell in love with the Turkey Wing Shell! It’s very festive and fitting for the Fall season too. I’m not sure what I like more, the oblong shape or the zebra stripes.
Cowrie shells have a unique oval look to them with an opening at the bottom that curves in – making one very smooth shell. In fact, small cowrie shells are used as jewelry, since they’re so smooth. Look at the size a color variation of the Cowries shell family!
But wait there’s more!
You all know of Pam Rambo and the iLoveShelling blog. Well, she has an article that lists six shells on Sanibel that are unique but can certainly be tracked down within a week’s vacation on Sanibel. She calls them the Sanibel Six. Click here to read her blog.