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Sea Shells and Shelling on Sanibel Island

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Located in south west Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel Island is well-known for its sea shells. Year round, a plethora of beautiful, intact sea shells line its sandy white beaches. Sea shell enthusiasts travel from all around the world to walk along the island's long stretches of undisturbed shells. The secluded, well-preserved island provides an abundance of shells, allowing visitors to select shell treasures as if they were fruits on a tree.

Why should I shell on Sanibel'
Sanibel's unique geography has made it a shelling hot spot. The island and surrounding land form a plateau that stretches for miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Waves moving across this plateau scoop up shells and move them across the plateau. When these tides hit Sanibel Island, the shells are scattered across the island's beaches.

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When should I shell on Sanibel'
The best time to collect sea shells is during low tide, when the water has retreated, exposing larger stretches of sand. During the low tide, the receding water has left many more shells along the beaches. In addition, during new or full moons, the water recedes further, allowing for better shelling. Traditionally, December and April tend to provide the most ample shelling opportunities. In addition, foul weather (including hurricanes) tends to sweep up more shells and scatter them across the beaches.

Where exactly should I shell on Sanibel'
Due to the island's unique location, and sustained efforts at wildlife and beach preservation, all of Sanibel's beaches on the island provide comparatively good shelling opportunities. In particular, however, the eastern end (near 'Lighthouse point') is better for smaller shells, while the western and northwestern end (near neighboring Captiva Island) is better for larger shells.

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