Casey Key, located off the coast of Nokomis slightly south of Sarasota, offers white sandy beaches, surf ranging from calm to exciting, and gorgeous luxury homes located right on the water. If you enjoy spending time on the sand, you might also want to pick up some seashells and other natural souvenirs. Here’s what you need to know about shelling on Casey Key.
What Can You Take?
The southwest Florida coast is teeming with natural wildlife, and when animals like clams, snails, scallops and the like die, their remains wash up on the shore. Feel free to take these shells to enjoy! Sometimes you can find pieces of sand dollars and dried starfish as well. Fossilized shark teeth are free for the taking, as well; you don’t need a permit to hunt for them the way you do with other types of fossils.
If you find a colony of live sand dollars, a live starfish or a shell with a creature still living inside, however, please toss it back into the water. Not only would you be killing a living thing by taking it home with you, but it would rapidly decompose and start to smell terrible. As long as you stick to shells that are obviously empty, you can take what you would like.
Finding Shark Teeth
This area of the coast offers a unique opportunity to find fossilized shark teeth. Most of these teeth are over 10,000 years old. Casey Key is a great place to find teeth from many different kinds of sharks. The most commonly found ones include those from tiger sharks, lemon sharks and bull sharks. Occasionally someone will find one from a great white or a mako shark, and rarely, some lucky fossil-hunter will stumble upon a megalodon tooth!
The best way to find shark teeth is to visit the beach at low tide. Walk along the line of shells and debris that collects where the surf hits the sand at high tide (you won’t be able to miss the line) and look for small triangular teeth. Most of them are black or dark brown. If you have trouble at first, ask a fellow hunter to show you what they look like. You can also buy identification guides at any of the local souvenir shops.
What to Do With Your Shells
Once you have a nice collection of seashells to take home with you, give them a quick rinse in seawater to remove most of the sand and grit. Once you get back home (or to your resort, if you’re visiting), wash them well in cool water, then soak them for a few minutes in a mild bleach solution. This will help remove any residual odors from your shells. Rinse them and let them dry on paper towels. You can identify your shells if you want to using a guide. Fill a jar with them, put them in the clear base of a lamp, or just put them away to give to your relatives. Seashells evoke memories of the beach, and they make a great decoration in your coastal home.
You can identify your shells if you want to using a guide. Fill a jar with them, put them in the clear base of a lamp, or just put them away to give to your relatives. Seashells evoke memories of the beach, and they make a great decoration in your coastal home.