There is so much to do on the gulf coast of Florida. It’s hard to chose between sunset cruises, dolphin cruises, and all the different beaches. Finally we decided to take the shuttle over to Shell Key Preserve.
The shuttle picks you up at Pass-a-Grille in St Pete Beach. We took the 10 am shuttle because we wanted to spend all day there. It’s a quick 10 minute boat ride over, then you get off and it’s just you and the island. There are no bathrooms or amenities of any kind so you have to pack a lunch, sunscreen, beach towels, cameras, etc.
Shell Key is a barrier island off St. Pete Beach. It is also a wildlife preserve. The shuttle provides you with a big potato sack for shelling, and you can very easily fill it up.
We started walking up the key and finally set our stuff down. We went shelling and looking for anything interesting. There are lots and lots of sand dollars but most have been pecked open by gulls. You aren’t supposed to take them if they don’t have a hole because that means there is still an animal living in it.
We also found lots of clams which we tossed into the water. My daughter found this crazy sea slug. I still can’t believe she picked it up and wasn’t queasy about it. I touched the top of it and that was enough for me!
She also found this transparent little fish flopping in the sand. It was invisible as soon as she put it in the water. I wonder how many of those I have been around in the ocean and never seen before.
What looked like a big, black, undulating shape was coming at us and we realized it was a pod of devil rays! There were maybe 15 of them, flipping their wings up out of the water and swimming around each other. We were in the water when we saw them so it was pretty cool having them swim all around us! I think that’s the only time I have ever seen a ray in the wild.
We walked quite a ways up the beach and back. When we got back the gulls and crows had unzipped my backpack and were taking off with a sandwich. One of them had taken my first aid kit but dropped it in the sand nearby. So I guess to keep the birds and your lunch safe keep all of your stuff with you.
By about 1:00 we realized we had way too many shells to bring home. So we sorted through and each picked a couple of the best ones. The rest we left on the beach.
We walked back down to where the shuttle picked us up. We were a little sunburned but overall it was such a fun day!