Dale and I had great fun observing the creatures of Sanibel Island. We were in pursuit of shells, but unfortunately for us, some of the unique shells were occupied with creatures who were not interested in sharing. Our first morning, we had a tour from a naturalist who pointed out the many different shells we would find. Dale reached down and grabbed the end of a pointy shell he saw sticking out of the sand. He pulled up a massive lightening whelk and the naturalist was thrilled and explained it to the group. (I failed to take a photo of this massive whelk, so Gabe has declared it a beach legend.) The next day when we toured the shell museum, the workers asked if we had been on the tour where someone found a large lightning whelk. Dale smiled and enjoyed his moment of fame.
One morning at low tide, we walked out onto a sandbar and had an amazing few hours pulling up shells and looking inside. The water was ankle to knee deep and we could see down to all the sea life. I was admiring a beautiful shell I had picked up when a crab reached out and smacked me. I jumped and screamed like a child making Dale laugh. He held the mollusks and the crabs in his hand and they slid or walked back and forth much to his delight.
We visited a bird sanctuary and admired the pink roseate spoonbill, but it was the jumping fish that made us gasp. The lake was full of large fish that would periodically leap out of the water as high as three feet and then splash back down on their sides. It was highly entertaining.
At dusk, we discovered an evening formation of gulls. The commander was in front looking over his troops and a large sergeant major was in back getting the stragglers in line. The sight of it brought back the many memories of standing in formation so very long ago. Oh how my life has changed, but it’s funny how the sight of them transported me back.
Two mornings at low tide, we found a dozen sand dollars. I began to learn the names of the shells: jewel box, buttercup, turkey wing, scallop, cockle, jingle, kittenpaw, conch, olive… It was a treasure hunt for me. At the museum, we learned that the greatest treasure to find is a junonia. They are rare because they reside so deep in the ocean. If someone brings one in, they’ll get their picture in the newsletter. One naturalist told us she had been searching for one for 42 years.
I loved the finding and filled my pockets and bags with shells, but it was the quiet moments walking along with Dale looking at God’s amazing creation that filled me with a peaceful joy.