Shell Seeking

As I mentioned yesterday, I was at the Novelists’ Ink conference in St. Pete’s Beach last week. It’s been at the same location since 2013 and this is the third time I’ve attended at this location. I love to walk the beach whenever I’m close to one. I also love to pick up seashells.

The first year that I attended the NINC conference in St. Pete’s, I brought home two or three shells. There are lots of conchs with their residents still inside, but those get left on the beach. Here’s one that a crab has chosen for its new home. There are more pix of the beach from that trip, right here.

©Deborah A. Cooke

The second year I attended, I had a bit more luck, and even found three fighting conchs.

Deborah Cooke's shells from St. Pete's Beach

This year, the shells were amazing, especially on Sunday morning after the king tide on Saturday night. Here’s what I picked up this year.
Cockle shells:
2017 NINC shell collection
Fighting Conchs:
2017 NINC shell collection

I love how these look inside:
2017 NINC shell collection

And my big score, my very first Sunray Venus, the two halves still attached. It’s about four inches long.
2017 NINC shell collection

These have a lovely tangerine glow on the interior:
2017 NINC shell collection

Do you pick up seashells when you’re at the beach? What do you do with them once you get home?

Back from the Beach

Last weekend, I attended the Novelists’ Ink conference, which was held in St. Pete’s Beach in Florida. As well as the conference being fun and informative—and a chance to see good friends—there was The Beach!

I walked the beach every day and here are some of my pix. We had truly gorgeous weather, over 80 degrees every day with clear skies. I walked mostly in the mornings. First off, the beach itself. This is looking north from the hotel:

©Deborah A. CookeThen there were the birds. I love the pelicans, which are quite common in this area. ©Deborah A. Cooke These are seagulls but this variety are a little smaller than the more common ones. They hang out together and have jazzy little black caps:©Deborah A. CookeHere’s a sand piper. There were two different kinds that I noticed – this is the taller kind.©Deborah A. CookeHere’s the smaller sandpiper. They were a bit fluffier.©Deborah A. CookeHere’s a heron with a more common seagull looking on. When I first saw this one, he was fishing up a storm, so busily snatching at little fishes in this pond that he blurred in every picture. He’s eaten his fill now and is heading out.©Deborah A. CookeAt the north end of the beach, there’s this rock pier where people fish – and of course, the birds that like to eat fish hang out in the vicinity, just in case. There are at least three kinds of herons in this shot, including a great blue heron to the very far right (who blends in very well.) If you go back to the first picture, you can just barely see this rock pier at the end of the beach.©Deborah A. CookeHere’s a shot of a large white heron. The two on the left are smaller, like the one I showed above.©Deborah A. CookeOf course, there are also shells on St. Pete Beach, given that it’s on the gulf side. I picked up a fighting conch shell and it vibrated like a cell phone. I thought maybe the conch was still alive and, since they’re poisonous, left it alone. Farther down the beach, I met a woman who knew the real answer: there was a crab inside. Here’s the crab she found, taking a peek at the world: ©Deborah A. Cooke And here’s the crab I found further on, having a bolder look. He might have a neighbour in the next shell, too. The fighting conch shells with barnacles tend to have been abandoned by the conches and taken on by the crabs.©Deborah A. CookeI brought home a few shells, too, but not any crabs!