Treasures of Sanibel Island

DATE: May 15, 2019

Although pirates Jose Gaspar and Black Caesar once roamed the blue-green waters of Southwest Florida pillaging and hiding their booty, not all of Sanibel Island’s treasure is buried. Here’s a list of “island treasures” ready and waiting for you to discover on your Sundial Beach Resort & Spa vacation.

Manatee in the wild florida gulf coast

Mermaids are Real!

European sailors told tales of the mythical half woman-half fish creatures they spotted along Florida’s coast, but historians believe these were actually manatees, not mermaids! The 1,000 pound “mermaids” are mammals closely related to the elephant, and able to live in both salt and fresh waters. Look for their protruding snouts or the telltale swirl they leave on the Gulf’s surface as they submerge and you, too, can have your very own Sanibel Island “mermaid” sighting!

horse conch live sanibel island live shell

Hammer Time

The native Calusa Indians attached it to a stick, using it as a tool. Now, it’s Florida’s official State Shell. Sanibel Island’s majestic Horse Conch can reach 2 feet in length, making it the largest mollusk in the Atlantic waters. When found alive, it’s almost neon orange body color is a sight to see! When found unoccupied, it’s a spectacular souvenir. (The taking of live or occupied shells is prohibited on Sanibel, so observe, delight and return please!)

Roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) spreading wings

No, That’s Not a Flamingo…

Sanibel Island visitors frequently remark that they’ve seen a flamingo. Although the very occasional flamingo has been spotted over the years, it’s most likely the beautifully bizarre Roseate Spoonbill. With its odd bill and showy pink plumage, this island resident can’t help but impress, especially when flying overhead with its rosy wings silhouetted against the azure blue Sanibel sky.

Leggy Visitor from the Deep – pictured at top

After a storm, keep your eyes peeled along the Sanibel shoreline and if you are very lucky you may find a tiny treasure- the Pygmy Octopus. This sticky cephalopod sometimes becomes dislodged from its seabed hiding place during rough conditions and washes up on the beach, clinging to some seaweed or a shell. Intelligent and playful, this diminutive island-favorite weighs a mere ounce and can grow to be 5 inches, most of which is tentacles.

Alligator Swimming in Everglades Swamp

Toothy Fossil

A relic relatively unchanged from prehistoric times, the once-endangered American Alligator now thrives on Sanibel Island. Did you know an alligator has between 74-80 teeth and can regenerate lost teeth allowing it to have 2000 teeth over the course of its lifetime? A good place to spot an alligator in its natural environment is at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, or in the lake behind the pickleball courts at Sundial.

sundial resort sanibel

Ready to do some treasure hunting of your own? Discover paradise at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa on sunny Sanibel Island, Florida. Book your getaway at

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