Sanibel Island versus Randall's Island

In mid-December 2017, I had a 16-day trip to Sanibel Island, in Lee County, Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. It was gorgeous, and I made a lot of observations there. I also met up for three days with two other citizen scientist malacologists, although neither of them is on iNaturalist.

My husband and I came back home to two or three mild days of winter weather in NYC. Then suddenly a prolonged and extreme frigid weather spell hit New York City and the whole of the northeast and central part of the country. It was hard to get through -- even indoors with steam heat it was cold.

But that eased up recently, and I was able to get back to Randall's Island, which is currently my favorite local iNat destination.

I am not a birder, but I managed to see Red-breasted Mergansers for the first time on Sanibel, and then saw some a couple days ago on Randall's!

As usual, I am shelling a lot on both islands, but I try to record as many other species of organisms as I reasonably can.

You would not think that Sanibel and Randall's have much in common at all, but surprisingly, seven marine mollusk species which are present on Sanibel are also present on Randall's! They are: the Hard Clam, the Atlantic Bay Scallop, the Eastern Oyster, the Dwarf Surf Clam, the Angel Wing (I found one fragment of a valve on Randalll's), the Eastern Melampus, and the Shark Eye.

One really interesting thing about the beaches on Randall's Island is that you can find valves of the Atlantic Rangia there, an estuarine species. But that is another story all by itself!

I love iNaturalist!

Posted by susanhewitt susanhewitt, January 12, 2018 17:38

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Southern Flatcoil Polygyra cereolus

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 15, 2017 11:51 AM EST

Description

The hurricane pushed a lot of plant debris very high up on the beach.
Mixed in with all that plant debris there were a lot of land snail shells. This species was by far the most common.

Photos / Sounds

What

Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 17, 2017 08:37 AM EST

Description

Early morning at the Lighthouse. The white morph of the Reddish Egret, and behind that a Snowy Egret, and behind that, a human who is an avid and very discerning shell collector.

Tags

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Florida Fighting Conch Strombus alatus

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 20, 2017 08:28 AM EST

Description

This type of sand bar, which is only exposed during a significantly large minus tide, is a classic habitat for adult Florida Fighting Conchs.

Photos / Sounds

What

Amber Glassy Bubble Haminoea succinea

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 21, 2017 10:05 AM EST

Description

In drift lines beyond the fishing pier.

Extremely light and fragile.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 21, 2017 11:00 AM EST

Description

Wow, a brachiopod. Steve Rosenthal found it, washed up, attached to a shell

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 21, 2017 11:47 AM EST

Photos / Sounds

What

Giant Montacutid Orobitella floridana

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 21, 2017 12:38 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

What

Painted Leaf Euphorbia cyathophora

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 21, 2017 02:43 PM EST

Tags

Photos / Sounds

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 21, 2017 03:51 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

What

Cancellate Semele Semele bellastriata

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 22, 2017 09:07 AM EST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Striped Burrfish Chilomycterus schoepfii

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 22, 2017 05:04 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

December 23, 2017 11:31 AM EST

Tags

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Eastern Oyster Crassostrea virginica

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:39 PM EST

Description

A nice live oyster on a rock. I have seen this one and photographed it before.

I think has grown since the first time I saw it.

Photos / Sounds

What

Brant Branta bernicla

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:46 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:51 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

What

Northern Dwarf-Tellin Ameritella agilis

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:40 PM EST

Description

So many of these present on this beach today! I could have collected 100 if I had wanted to. This is the largest number I have ever seen here.

The big ones are about 10 mm in length. They seem mostly to be adults with a few juveniles as well, but the juveniles of this species can be so very small that they are easy to overlook.

I don't know if the tellins had been killed by the cold and ice, or whether many of them were still alive and had simply been washed up by the storm.

Photos / Sounds

What

Soft-shelled Clam Mya arenaria

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:38 PM EST

Description

These are not paired valves, just two valves that happen to be about the same size.

And at this location I don't seem to find valves much bigger than this.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Atlantic Ribbed Mussel Geukensia demissa

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:38 PM EST

Photos / Sounds

What

Solitary Glassy-Bubble Haminella solitaria

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:44 PM EST

Description

When these shells are fresh they are transparent, but they turn opaque after a while.

The one on the right still has some perisotracum on it.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

susanhewitt

Date

January 10, 2018 12:45 PM EST

Description

A rather nice juvenile shell of the species.

Comments

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Talk about different worlds! I don't think I've seen Ameritella in CT. I take it they like protected waters?

Posted by kueda about 3 years ago (Flag)
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Yes, the little tellins like back-bay conditions, or in this case, an inlet of an estuary.

Is there habitat like that somewhere near New Haven?

Posted by susanhewitt about 3 years ago (Flag)
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Plenty, just not ones my fam usually checks out over the holidays! If I'm back under warmer conditions this year I might try and look. Actually Bluff Point out by New London kind of meets the description, but I don't think I've ever seen them there.

Posted by kueda about 3 years ago (Flag)
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You still need to come to St. Joe bay to see the Fargo Worm Snails!

Posted by rogerbirkhead about 3 years ago (Flag)
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@kueda -- I find that at Randall's Island it varies a lot as to whether you can find any of the little tellins or not. I did look at Bluff Point on the map, and that area looks promising for this kind of bivalve. If you can find bubble snails you can almost certainly find the tellins.
Where I find these little tellins on Randall's is a little sandy beach that is silty lower down on a minus tide. Quite a lot of different species of shells wash up there sometimes. so far I have 25 marine mollusk species from Randall's.

Posted by susanhewitt about 3 years ago (Flag)
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@rogerbirkhead -- I would love to see St. Joe's Bay, but we don't rent a car when we are on Sanibel, so we don't get around much at all. However, if at some point we stop going to Nevis in the spring, I am definitely looking for one or two nice places to stay other than Sanibel, places that are in the US, warm, on a good stretch of coast, and have one or more attractive old-fashioned places to stay with a kitchenette, and within walking distance of some nice shelling/sea life exploring.

I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has suggestions for places like that. :)

Posted by susanhewitt about 3 years ago (Flag)
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I deleted the Spam post.

Posted by susanhewitt about 2 months ago (Flag)
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Susan,
Since this popped up, I will add St. George Island, FL to my list of recommendations for you. Last year we stayed at a nice "no frills" house (https://www.heronnow.com/) on the island. It was on the bay side but an easy walk over to the ocean side, plus it was a very short drive to the great state park (Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park) as well. The owner was excited to have biologists staying there and had a good selection of field guides in the rental home library. Good places to eat on the island as well as in nearby Apalachicola.

Cheers!
Roger

Posted by rogerbirkhead about 2 months ago (Flag)
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Ah that sounds really lovely -- just our cup of tea! Is it possible to get public transportation over to the State Park?

Do you fly into Tallahassee?

Posted by susanhewitt about 2 months ago (Flag)
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We just drive down. Tallahassee would be the closest airport. There isn't any public transportation that I am aware of. It is a reasonable bike ride and there are plenty of bike rentals (also kayak).

Posted by rogerbirkhead about 1 month ago (Flag)

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