Florida's Living Beaches Book Review

by dustytoes

I blog and write about seashells and purchased the Florida's Living Beaches book for seashell identifying, but I got so much more.

While writing about seashells I use a variety of places to gather my information. Reputable online sites, usually run by serious collectors, or those who live on the beach, are good resources. Books can be a great source for good pictures of seashells, as well as more in depth information. A well-written page will contain information from a number of sources. I also like to compare information to be sure to get it right.

I don't love science, but I love nature, and I've learned a lot since the day I began blogging about seashells. We tend to not think about the mollusk who once inhabited that shell. It has spent so much time building that fabulous, curvy house of his that we end up gathering from the shore. Shells are fun to collect, and beach combing is a favorite pastime. I've often come across strange things on the beach, not knowing what they could be. The writer's of this book make us take notice of all that is wonderful about the beaches of Florida.

Seashell Collecting Reference Book

This is why I decided to review this book.

Since I reference their book often, I want to give credit to the writers of Florida's Living Beaches.  Blair and Dawn Witherington have done an in-depth and excellent job of stuffing tons of information (and pictures) into their book.  I'll also have a page to refer my blog readers to, in case they would like to purchase it.

I originally bought it for the seashell information.  I wanted to see photos of shells that matched the shells I have in my little collection.  It was very helpful.

But the seashell section is only a small part of it's 326 pages.  Printed on the cover, just under the title, are the words, "A guide for the curious beachcomber".  And anyone who has walked along a beach anywhere will admit that they have sometimes encountered things that are puzzling.

The Witheringtons cover pretty much everything you could find in nature near the seashore.  They even explain the tides, dunes, waves, erosion, currents, and even water color!  They explain rip currents (something everyone who swims in the ocean should know about), and even have a section at the back of the book about items left by man.

Here's the Book, Which is Sold on Amazon

The authors write for other specific beaches, since you won't always find the same things on all beaches.
Florida's Living Beaches: A Guide for...

Thanks to this book, I can name the shells in this picture.

While beach-combing, I know what to look for, and which shells are rarely deposited on the beaches I frequent.
My Recent Seashell Collection
My Recent Seashell Collection

Ponce Inlet, Florida's East Coast

Low tide is a good time to hunt for seashells. When I visited, and took this photo, the tide was going out.
Ponce Inlet
Ponce Inlet

The book has some key elements and is divided into sections.

The book begins with a section on beach features.  Part of the reason for including all this is so a beach-walker will know which areas of the beach may hold treasures.

Some elements of the book that I especially like are the little silhouettes of the state of Florida at the top of the pages.   By including solid or dotted lines, and color coding, a quick glance will tell the reader if the topic (shells, birds, animals) are found in a particular area, and when in the season they can be found.

For instance, when you want to identify a seashell, first find the shell among either gastropods (shells in one piece) or bivalves (shells that come in two pieces).  Then flip through the wonderful images to find the shape and color.  If that is not enough, read about the characteristics, and look at the top of the page - at the Florida map - to find out if it's commonly found on a particular shoreline.  

The writer's have also included a "Did you Know?" section at the bottom of most pages.  In this area they will give some tidbit of interesting information concerning the page topic.


My Sea Bean Discovery

Thanks to this book, and the great photos, I knew what I'd found
Sea bean
Sea bean

This Book Covers Everything

Read it before you take a Florida beach vacation!

I'll be the first to admit that I have a lot to learn.  Although I lived in central Florida for 27 years, I knew very little about Florida nature at the seashore.  After flipping through Florida's Living Beaches, I saw some things that I had collected and never realized what they were.  

The book also gave me answers to questions like these:

Why do some shells I have contain holes that look like someone drilled them?  

Why do some seashells have squiggly worn grooves?  

Which shells are rare to find in Florida?

Which types of jellyfish are harmful?


The Beach is Ever Changing

On one visit, there were many man-of-war jellyfish along the beach. The book covers jellyfish too.
Man-of-war jellyfish
Man-of-war jellyfish
Author's photo
Updated: 12/03/2017, dustytoes
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Have you read any of the nature books by the Witheringtons?

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dustytoes on 04/18/2017

I hope that little crab made it. It was so odd that he stayed tucked up inside that shell for so long. I appreciate your lovely comment Frank.

frankbeswick on 04/18/2017

Dustytoes, your commitment to life is impressive. You know how to respect the sacred.

dustytoes on 04/18/2017

@blackspanielgallery, Definitely! I always mention this on my blog: Do not collect if something is inside. In fact I just posted a story about how I had collected a big, old, broken shell that was seemingly empty. And there was only a tiny area at the top that was NOT broken. After an entire DAY - I had rinsed the shells and had them setting on the table to dry - we realized there was a hermit crab up inside that broken shell! He never made himself known. Fortunately I live close to where we go boating, and I took the shell (and crab) back to the water.
You can read about it here: https://seashellsbymillhill.com/2017/...

blackspanielgallery on 04/18/2017

Make certain the shells are empty before collecting. One of my brothers decided to pick up a few shells when we were young, 20s, on a fishing trip. When we got them back there were sounds from his tackle box, and legs coming from the now moving shells. It is hard to take a shell and have to destroy the inhabitant, yet after getting the shells away from the beach you may have no alternative. After traveling a hundred miles it is not practical to return the shell and small creature to nature.

dustytoes on 04/15/2017

Thanks Frank ;)

frankbeswick on 04/15/2017

Seashells! To be able to take an interest in such simple things is a sign that a person has maintained their childhood love of nature and the creatures in it. That is wonderful.

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