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St Armands Circle
There’s nothing like strolling the waters edge for treasured mementos of a time well spent. All that is needed is a
bucket, a scoop, and respect for local shelling policies.
A law that reigns supreme on Longboat and our other Keys is: "No live-shells." Shells collected must have no
inhabitants, whether dead or alive. The shell must be void of any resident. This is key to the future of shelling for
all of us! Disregarding this law will land you a hefty fine from regulation authorities. Sand dollars, star fish and
sea urchins are also strictly regulated.
The varieties of shells found on Longboat Key include: Conch, junonia, lightning whelk, cockle, scallop, murex, olive
and coquina. Two of Florida’s most famous shells are the Lion’s Paw and the Junonia. Lion’s Paws can be found on both
coasts of Florida, but you’ll only find the Junonia on Florida’s West Coast.
The most productive time of day to search for shells is at low tide, when the waves have left their daily deposit. The
spring tides are the best, especially during full and new moons, when tides are at their highest and…the lowest.
Snorkeling is another means for collecting shells as our shores have very sloping bottoms where shells are plentiful. If
you should try snorkeling South Lido’s Bayside, head to the grassy sea beds for glimpses of seahorses and more.
Some folks don’t mind the imperfections of battered shells, but for seekers of unblemished beauties one must don the
scuba gear and head to the depths even further from shore.
Where to Go:
The beaches of Longboat are not as populated as some of our other islands so, shells are plentiful and sand dollars are
much more common.
Two prime locations would be Beer Can Island
and Quick Point Nature Preserve at the southern end of the island. The preserve entrance is near the Chart House
restaurant and continues under the bridge and along Sarasota Bay.
The common names of our area’s best-known shells are the angel wing (a clam that burrows deeply in the mud), the banded
tulip (a snail shell shaped like an unopened tulip), and the lightning whelk (lightning-like color streaks). You’ll see
shore birds nesting on mangrove islands, manatees and their calves grazing the sea grasses (from May through October)
and dolphins enjoying the bay’s protected waters for raising their young.
Attn. Intl. Visitors
(listed north to south)
Anna Maria Island