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Sanibel resident’s love of shelling takes her all over the globe

By Staff | Aug 30, 2017

Pam Rambo of iLoveShelling. PHOTO PROVIDED

Pam Rambo’s love of shelling has taken her all over the world. Most recently, she and her husband, Clark, traveled to the Solomon Islands earlier this month. The couple became interested in traveling to the islands after their friend, Gary Schmelz, a well-known author and naturalist, told them about his time there at the Sarasota Shell Show back in February.

“We started researching, then we put it on the calendar,” Rambo said. “The Solomon Islands were very interesting to us because shells are a very important part of their life. They use shells in all of their events and they still use shells as money. They still buy a wife with shell money called bakia. The shell money is made from giant clams up in the mountains and they’re fossils. They’re passed down from generation to generation.”

Rambo and her husband spent 13 days in the Solomon Islands snorkeling and, of course, shelling. While there, they stayed at FatBoys Resort on Mbabanga Island. She and Clark brought home a myriad of different shells. A large majority of them came from the conch, cone and whelk families. Rambo said there are more species of shells on the Solomon Islands compared to Sanibel.

“There are a lot of the same families of shells there,” she said.

Some of her finds included a spider conch, bubble conch, silver conch, leopard cone, lettered cone, virgin cone, a giant knobbed cerith, a mud creeper and a horn helmet, which was her largest find. Rambo ended up leaving that shell at the resort.

Just a few of the shells Rambo collected in the Solomon Islands. PHOTO PROVIDED

This isn’t the first time Rambo has left the country in search of shells: in addition to the Solomon Islands, she has traveled to Japan, Belize, Seychelles, Thailand, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos. Rambo shares these travels along with her daily finds on her blog, iloveshelling.com, which she began in 2009.

“It really started out with me making Christmas cards. I was painting shells with little santa hats on them and I was trying to sell them around here. I made a website for them and I was trying to get people to go to the website for the cards, then somebody mentioned I should start a blog since I’m passionate about shells. I started blogging and I loved it so much, then Christmas was over so I kept going with the blog,” Rambo said. “When I started the blog, I started getting feedback from all these different people out there that they loved exactly what we love about shelling and beach combing and just finding different things that you’ve never found before. That fueled my fire of wanting to blog.”

One of the first supporters of her blog was the Island Inn on Sanibel.

“They’re dear to my heart. I would not be able to do what I do without them,” Rambo said.

In addition to her blog, Rambo also shares her knowledge of shells through shelling cruises. She was encouraged to do the cruises by the late Paul McCarthy of Captiva Cruises.

One of Rambo's shelling cruises. PHOTO PROVIDED

“It’s fun because I get to meet a lot of the people that I have communicated online with over the years,” Rambo said. “We get to learn together.”

Rambo said that people have traveled as far as the U.K., Australia and Germany to do her shelling cruises to Cayo Costa and Big Hickory island. All participants on her shelling cruises leave with goodies, which include: a lucky shell, a bracelet, a $25 gift certificate to Congress Jewelers for a sterling silver shell charm (can also be used as store credit) and an iLoveShelling bumper sticker. Her next shelling cruises are scheduled for Oct. 20 and 24. Additional dates can be found at iloveshelling.com.

“Everyone is so happy on our cruises. I make sure on my blog and all of my social networks it’s always positive. There’s never anything negative on the blog,” Rambo said.

Earlier this year, she wrote her first book, “Pam Rambo’s Guide to Shellanguage” which came out in June, just in time for National Seashell Day. The book highlights the quirky vocabulary of shell seekers.

“The book has been really fun. I have a lot of people saying that they’re making up their own words,” Rambo said.

Her first edition books sold out in a matter of three weeks – all 600 of them. The books have since then been restocked and can be found at Bailey’s General Store, MacIntosh Books, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Jerry’s, Captiva Cruises, CVS on Sanibel, Congress Jewelers, Ace Hardware, Suncatchers’ Dream and online at blurb.com.