Shells, Children and Very Smart Grandmothers

Great beach entertainment is watching the Coquina’s come up from the surf and dig themselves back into the sand.  Just scoop the top inch or so off the sand where you are sitting and watch the Coquina’s dig in further. 

I wonder if the shells dig all the way to China.  One of my favorite childhood shelling finds was the Lion Paw.  I always dreamt that there were millions of baby lions on the beach at night leaving their paw prints for me to find the next day. 

My brothers loved finding the Shark Eyes.  They have the element of danger that little boys love: sharks and things that have eyes!   Our grandmother would patiently tell us the name of each shell that we would bring to her. We thought she was the smartest person in the whole world!

Now, my favorite treasures on the beach are Sand Dollars. These incredibly delicate shells tell such a spiritual story.  Discover the doves as you break open the Sand Dollar.  A treasure for anyone to find.  You can find them on the beach in front of the Outrigger Beach Resort or in the sandbar. 

Please remember that live shells are to be left on the beach.

Seashell Treasures

So you've picked up a seashell or two while playing on the beach or during your visit to Sanibel Island.  Shells make a beautiful souvenir from your vacation on Fort Myers Beach.   They are a natural part of our paradise islands decorating our shoreline until a lucky person like you find them and take them home.

Now that you have found all these beautiful shells, what do you do with them?  The ladies at the Guest Service Center will help you with seashell crafts.  They use a variety of shells in different sizes, shapes and colors for the crafts. 

Sand Dollars are still my favorite.  Think of Christmas tree decorations.  The beautiful white star with a velvety red ribbon hanging from the Christmas tree - what a wonderful reminder of a perfect vacation!

If you are lucky to find an Atlantic Giant Cockle shell, there are endless uses for them.  The Cockle Shell holds treasures of all kinds.  Add a few coquina shells along the edge and you have made a perfect place to put earrings or hair bows.   I remember my mother used to serve big pink shrimp in our Cockle Shells.  It always reminded us of our trip to Fort Myers Beach.

A lifetime of special memories can be found in one seashell.

Seashell Care

We recommend soaking seashells in water and a couple drops of dish soap before you take your treasures home. Once you get home, follow these tips for cleaning.


Soak the seashells in a 50-50 solution of bleach and water. The length of time depends on the type of seashells and the quantity of seashells being cleaned. Just be sure to remove them when the "periostracum" is gone. The periostracum is the flaky, leathery covering that covers most live seashells. Again, a reminder that live shells are to be left on the beach.


If there are still barnacles and other matter on the seashells, you can use an instrument, such as a dental pick, to chip off the material. Other useful tools are a toothbrush, grill brush, wire brush or a tooth pick.


If you want to give your seashells a nice finish, you can wipe them with a mineral or baby oil.

Cleaning Sand Dollars

  • Let them dry for a few days, then put them in a pan with a little bleach and water.  You may need to brush them gently, but do not let them bleach for too long, as they tend to crumble.
  • If you have the time, you can just let them set and they will dry and whiten by themselves.  (This is the best way for the strength of the Sand Dollars.)
  • If you leave Sand Dollars out in the sun too long, they tend to become brittle and break easily.

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Your Beach-Front Resort Hotel on Fort Myers Beach in Southwest Florida