Shelling with Ali Mick of SWFL Shell Guide In the 10,000 Islands

Shelling is a time-honored tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is the act of collecting shells that have washed up on shore, and it is a beloved activity for many people around the world. However, in Southwest Florida, shelling is taken to a whole new level. The area is home to some of the best shelling beaches in the world, and the sheer variety and quantity of shells that can be found there are truly remarkable.

One of the most experienced and knowledgeable shellers in the area is Ali of SWFL Shell Guide. With over 10,000 hours of shelling under her belt, Ali is a true expert when it comes to finding and identifying shells. She offers guided shelling tours in the 10,000 Island area, which is known for its abundance of shells. These tours are a great way to learn more about shelling and to find some truly amazing specimens.

So what makes shelling in Southwest Florida so special? For one thing, the area is home to a unique ecosystem that is ideal for shell formation. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow, sandy bottoms provide the perfect conditions for mollusks and other shellfish to thrive. As a result, the beaches are constantly replenished with new shells, and each day brings a fresh supply of treasures to be discovered.

Another factor that sets Southwest Florida apart is the sheer variety of shells that can be found there. The area is home to hundreds of different species of mollusks, and each one creates a unique type of shell. Some of the most prized specimens include the lightning whelk, the junonia, and the alphabet cone, all of which are commonly found in the area. In addition to these more rare and valuable shells, there are also plenty of common shells to be found, such as sand dollars, scallops, and cockles.

Of course, finding these shells is not always easy. It takes a trained eye to spot them in the sand, and even then, they can be easily missed. That’s where Ali of SWFL Shell Guide comes in. With her years of experience, she knows exactly where to look for the best shells, and she can help her clients spot even the most elusive specimens. She also offers tips on how to identify different types of shells, which is helpful for those who are just starting out in the hobby.

In addition to the thrill of finding new shells, shelling in Southwest Florida also offers a glimpse into the area’s rich natural history. Many of the shells found on the beaches are hundreds or even thousands of years old, and they provide a window into the area’s past. Some of the most interesting specimens include fossilized shells from ancient sea creatures that once lived in the area. By collecting and studying these shells, shelling enthusiasts can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the history of the area.

Overall, shelling in Southwest Florida is a unique and rewarding experience that is not to be missed. Whether you are a seasoned shell collector or just starting out, the area offers something for everyone. With the help of an experienced guide like Ali of SWFL Shell Guide, you can make the most of your shelling experience and discover some truly amazing treasures along the way. So if you’re planning a trip to the area, be sure to put shelling at the top of your list of things to do – you won’t regret it!

Click here for more information on booking a tour with Ali of SWFL Shell Guide.

Junonia, Junonia Shell, Florida Shells

The Junonia Shell is a beautiful, rare seashell that is highly prized by collectors and beachcombers alike. This unique shell is characterized by its distinctive pattern of intricate spots and lines that create a stunning visual display of rich, warm colors.

The scientific name for the Junonia Shell is Scaphella junonia, and it is a member of the Olividae family of seashells. These shells are typically found in warm, tropical waters and are known for their hard, durable exteriors and intricate internal structure.

(The mirror junonia photos are for sale at WIFLAdventurers Etsy Shop. Click Here)

The Junonia Shell is particularly prized by collectors due to its rarity and unique beauty. While it is found in a few different locations throughout the world, it is most commonly found along the coast of Florida, making it a popular target for beachcombers and collectors in the area.

There are several different types of Junonia Shells, each with their own unique coloration and pattern. The most common variety is the Junonia Excavata, which is characterized by its rich, warm colors of red, brown, and orange. This variety is found primarily along the Gulf Coast of Florida, particularly in the areas around Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

(Junonias in the sand photos are for sale at (WIFLAdventurers Etsy Shop. Click Here)

Another variety of Junonia Shell is the Junonia Hesperia, which is characterized by its bright, vibrant colors of blue and green. This variety is found primarily along the coast of southern California and Baja California, although it has also been found in other parts of the world as well.

The Junonia Shell is typically found in sandy, shallow waters, particularly in areas where there is a lot of wave action. These shells are often found washed up on the beach after storms, or can be found by beachcombers who are willing to do a bit of searching.

While the Junonia Shell is a beautiful and prized find for many beachcombers and collectors, it is important to remember that collecting seashells can have an impact on the local ecosystem. It is important to only take shells that are already dead and to avoid disturbing live animals or their habitats.

In addition to the Junonia Shell, there are many other types of seashells that can be found along the coast of Florida. Some of the most common include the Lightning Whelk, the Fighting Conch, and the Alphabet Cone. These shells, like the Junonia, are prized for their unique beauty and are a popular target for collectors and beachcombers.

Overall, the Junonia Shell is a beautiful and unique seashell that is highly prized by collectors and beachcombers around the world. Found primarily along the coast of Florida, this rare and stunning shell is a must-see for anyone who loves the beauty and wonder of the ocean.

Shelling With Reel Kind Fishing, Shelling and Eco Tours

Horse Conch-This Photo Is For Sale @ Etsy WIFLAdventurers

My wife loves shelling. That statement does not even come close to actually describing how Carrie feels about shelling. I blame myself. In 2008 we took our first trip to Florida. We visited Cocoa Beach and Clearwater Beach. The surf, sea, white sand, sunsets and seeing her first dolphin stirred a desire in Carrie that would not be tamed.

We did not get back to Florida until 2012. On that trip we visited Sanibel Island. And it began….

Carrie’s obsession with shelling led her to start following various Facebook groups and Instagram accounts. She came across posts from people who have toured with Reel Kind Fishing and Tours. In 2018 we booked our first trip. The trip took us to Kice Island in the 10,000 Islands. The 10,000 Islands are a chain of islands and mangrove islets off the coast of southwest Florida.

This trip took us to another island. Today we visited Shell Island (Second Chance Reef). Shell Island is literally an island made of shells. As you stand in the middle of the island, you find yourself surrounded by piles of sun bleached shells and beautiful blue water. Shell Island is a designated/protected nesting site. Shell Island is closed from March 1st to Labor Day weekend.

Today, Captain Ryan, pictured here, was our tour guide. I always told my basketball players it is the little details that make the big differences. Captain Ryan definitely understands how the little details can make a big difference.

Captain Ryan pointing out some premier shelling areas on Shell Island

Once we got to the island and the boat was secure, Captain Ryan instructed us on where the best shelling would be. Off we went. My wife with her shell bag, I with a shell bag and my camera. We both knew she was serious about the shells and I was serious about getting some interesting photos.

One would would think it would be difficult finding a lot of interesting things to photograph on an island made of shells in the middle of the the Gulf of Mexico. Once you take a closer look you find the place full of beauty and interesting photo opportunities.

Earlier I mentioned the little details make the big difference. After our morning on Shell Island we headed back to port. On our way back Captain Ryan noticed a group of jet skis slowly maneuvering near the shore. He took the time to swing over by the jet skis because his experience told him the people on the jet skis were viewing dolphins. As we pulled close we saw at least four dolphins swimming near the shore and feeding. Captain Ryan worked hard to get me in position for a photo of the dolphins. Trying to get a photo of a dolphin breaching is like playing “whack-a-mole.” By the time I got the camera in position and focused, they were gone. Captain Ryan was more than patient as we tried to get a good photo, which I never was really able to do.

After what I thought was a full morning of shelling and dolphin sightseeing, Captain Ryan had one more surprise for us. He slowly cruised along the shore just up from the dolphin sighting where he noticed some shore birds. We watched the beautiful Roseate Spoonbills feeding in the water. Captain Ryan graciously maneuvered the boat, again working to get some photos of those beautiful birds.

Captain Ryan found this beautiful Lightning Whelk deep in the sand. He gave it to me. As we walked over by my wife, Carrie, he said, “Look what your husband found.”

Of course I did not take credit for the find, but this is another example of just how dedicated Captain Ryan is to making your shelling experience the best it possibly can be.

This selflessness is not just the trait of Captain Ryan. When we went with Captain Jesse on our first tour, he also shared some of his fantastic finds with us and the other people who joined us on the tour.

Twice we have gone with Reel Kind to shell in the 10,000 Islands and twice we have had a fantastic time with some great finds. We still haven’t found the elusive Junonia shell, but it isn’t without trying. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

Various wildlife and nature photos from our Florida adventures can be purchased at

A great day was had by all!