Report on trip to South Padre Island December 2001


By Roe Davenport

Some of the lowest tides of the year occurred the weekend after Christmas and a group of eager shell collectors, mostly members of the Sea Shell Searchers, made their way to South Padre Island to take advantage of these low tides. The group consisted of Dean and Cliff Harris and Janey Nill from Brazoria County, Leslie Crnkovick, John and Rachel Zelko from Houston, Jo and Charley Tirrell from Corpus Christi, Tom Miller from Laredo and Roe Davenport from San Antonio.

The weather turned out great, with balmy 70-degree temperatures, until Sunday when the north winds really got going. From start to finish, this was an uncoordinated operation - some arrived on Thursday, others on Friday, and Janey had arrived earlier for Christmas. Collecting was done in the same manner, with some here and some there, but usually changing from day to day. The main areas collected were the outer (Gulf) beaches at South Padre Island, the Del Mar Beach, the bay side tidal flats at South Padre Island and the north shore at Port Isabel, and the long flat along the north side of Clark Island, which isn't an island any more.

The species collected included most of the common things - Lightning Whelks, Banded Tulips, Horse Conchs, Bay Scallops, Olives, Olivellas, Terebras, Quahogs, Cockles and Ark Shells. Also, a number of exciting species were found, including

Spondylus americanus - Atlantic Thorny Oyster (live) on a rock
Chione clenchi - Clench's Venus (live)
Chama macerophylla - Leafy Jewel Box (live) on a rock
Pholas campechiensis - Campeche Angel Wing (live) in a rock
Calliostoma euglyptum - Sculptured Top Shell (live) among the rocks
Polinices hepaticus - Brown Moon Shell (crabbed) on the beach
Several nudibranchs (live) under rocks or in rocks

As you can see, a lot of molluscs like to be around the rocks, for attachment or protection or to find food.

Meal times found us in various groups, but never all together. Of course, we departed in different directions at different times - some on Sunday, some on Monday… Everybody had a good time and collected some good shells.