Extending from Sarasota Bay around Big Pass to the Gulf of Mexico is
South Lido Beach Park. This oasis of natural beauty is prolific with wildlife, especially along the bay.
Shore birds nest on mangrove islands, manatees and their calves graze the sea grass beds (May through October) and
dolphins enjoy the protected waters while raising their young. Caution should be taken if shelling in Big Pass as
currents can be fairly strong.
While America’s #1 beach,
Siesta Beach enjoys great popularity with a sand like confectioners sugar, it’s hard to find good shells.
The best places for shelling are at
Turtle Beach and the public access on North Shell Road.
beach at North Shell road faces Lido Key and Big Pass. It is here where sandbars produce sand dollars, augers,
spiny jewel box, lightning whelk, and olives at low tide. Due to currents, caution is advised.
At the south end of the island is
Turtle Beach where the shore is loaded with shells. Shore birds, dolphin and osprey frequent these fish laden
waters and shells are quite plentiful.
two public beaches and parks of Casey Key have strived to retain a natural setting for area wildlife. The
Intra-coastal waterway is ideal for fishing, kayaking and making friends with "Beggar" the dolphin, who hangs
out at Albee Bridge. Both beaches face the Gulf and are peppered with shells.
How about adding a few fossilized shark teeth to your collection? Venice’s
Caspersen Beach is ideal for shelling and finding a few pointy Megalodons. Rocky outcroppings are interspersed
with light gray to patches of nearly black sand at water’s edge. This is caused by fossilized material mixed with sand
and shell. Storms frequently wash this sand into the ocean freeing the fossilized teeth to be scooped up by basket
The pristine shore of South Venice Beach is only attainable by
ferry. Passes are (now) available to day trippers for the four minute ride across Lemon Bay. Dolphin and Manatee
are frequent visitors and shells and shark teeth are plentiful along this seven mile stretch of sand.
When asked where "Florida’s least crowded beaches" might be... enchanting Manasota Key comes to mind! Just
off the coast of Englewood between Sarasota and Fort Myers on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Manasota Key is 7 miles in length
with four expansive beaches.
Blind Pass and
Stump Pass Beaches are probably the most prolific.
Beach dunes covered with sea oats slope to the gulf waters. Behind the dunes, seagrape trees often grow in dense
thickets. Easily recognized by their large, round leaves, the trees offer a bounty of edible fruit in winter for
green parrots and other winged friends. Mangrove trees are abundant on the bay side offering refuge for shore and
wading birds. Ospreys and brown pelicans are common and magnificent frigate-birds and bald eagles occasionally soar
Shell seekers walking the beach often find sharks’ teeth and skeletal fragments from ancient geologic times.
The highest concentration of sea turtle nests in the state of Florida is on Manasota Key. If visiting in summer months,
Stump Pass Beach provides informative ranger-led turtle and nature walks.
Sea Turtles Found in Florida
Green Turtle - Named for the greenish color of its body fat, this turtle is listed as endangered in Florida.
Most green turtles nest in the Caribbean, but up to 2000 nests can be found in Florida each year. For centuries, these
turtles were hunted for their meat that was made into soup. Green turtles graze on the vast beds of sea grasses found
throughout the tropics and are the only sea turtles that eat plants.
Hawksbill Turtle - This turtle is a relatively small turtle, and has been hunted to the brink of extinction for
its beautiful shell. Once relatively common in Florida, these turtles now rarely nest here. They feed on sponges and
other invertebrates and tend to nest on small, isolated beaches.
Leatherback Turtle - This endangered turtle is the largest and most active of the sea turtles. Up to eight feet
in length, these huge turtles have a rubbery dark shell marked by seven narrow ridges that run the length of their back.
These turtles feed on jellyfish and soft-bodied animals. Ingestion of plastic bags and egg collecting are reasons for
mortality and population declines. About 200 leatherback nests are recorded in Florida each year.
Kemp's Ridley - The rarest and smallest of all, this endangered turtle feeds on crabs and shrimp. They nest on
a single stretch of isolated beach along the Gulf Coast of Mexico.
Loggerhead Turtle - This is the most common sea turtle in Florida. It is classified as a threatened, but not
endangered species. Named because of its large head, that can measure up to ten inches wide, it’s powerful jaws crush
clams, crabs and encrusted animals on which it feeds. As many as 68,000 loggerhead nests have been found in Florida
• Florida beaches are home to 80% of Loggerhead turtles in the U.S.
• Turtles can migrate thousands of miles, but usually return to lay their eggs on the same beach where they hatched
• Sea turtles have existed for over one hundred million years
• It can take 15 - 50 years before a sea turtle is capable of reproducing
• Scientists estimate that only 1 in 1000 to 10,000 babies will survive to adulthood
• Sea turtles live their entire life in the ocean. The only time they come ashore is when the female lays her eggs.
• Sea turtles are reptiles. They breathe air, and can hold their breath for long periods of time.
• When its time to sleep, a loggerhead will wedge under a rock close to the shore, or take a snooze while floating on the surface of deep water
• Hatchlings weigh less than one ounce and are only two inches long. Adults can grow over 3 feet long and weigh 200 to 300 pounds!
• The nest temperature during incubation determines a sea turtle's sex. Boys like it cool - Girls like it hot.
• Sea turtles have great underwater vision, but are nearsighted out of the water.
• Although sea turtles do not have external ears, they are capable of hearing low frequency sounds and vibrations
• Sea turtles use their strong jaws to crush a diet of crabs, shrimp, mussels, and jelly fish.
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