When Colorado native Sharon Phillips walks down the boardwalk of her vacation home on Marco Beach she is as thrilled as a child on Christmas
“I can’t wait until daylight comes to get down here,” Phillips said, while sitting on the hull of a Hobie Cat. “I’m not a morning person at all. But I’ll be up before it gets daylight when I’m here. I just can’t wait for daylight to get down to the beach.”
So how big of a part of Sharon’s annual vacation on Marco Island is shelling?
“Very big,” she stated flatly. “Practically every other day I’m down here.”
Husband Bret, who is very supportive of his wife’s passion for shells, said that collecting the shells is just part of it.
“She also takes a day or two to clean them,” Bret said.
A Room Just For Shells
After thirty years of collecting, strictly on Marco Island, Sharon had to have someplace to display her collection.
“When we built a house eight years ago I had to have a room for my shells,” Sharon said. Bret complied, designing a room just for his wife’s shell collection.
“It’s wall to wall shells and crafts I’ve made,” Sharon said, describing her room. “I buy jars and any unique glass I find. Then everything’s placed inside very neatly, so it’s all displayed.”
Built a room in new home to
dedicate to her 30-year shell collection
When friends in Parker, Colorado visit her shell room, they always have one request.
“When people see my collection they say, ‘I want a shell.’ So I say, ‘These that are on display I can’t give you,’ but then I have a bag and Ilet them pick out what they want. I share all of the shells that I don’t keep. So people who aren’t fortunate enough to come to Marco Island can have some shells.”
Sharon also shares her shells with the recreation department at The Charter Club of Marco Beach, where she and Bret own their vacation home.
“When I have leftovers I bring them the recreation department here because I know they do shell crafts. After I pick through what I want I bring the rest to them.”
Never Been Skunked
Sharon laughed when asked whether she’d ever failed to find shells to take home after vacationing on Marco.
“No, I always have lots to take home from here,” she said. “I always wait for a storm, because the shelling’s always better after a storm. We didn’t have one this year, but I still have a bag of shells to take home.
“After the hurricane in 2005, I was out on Tigertail beach and in the sand I saw a curly cue and I started digging. It was a seahorse. It was buried upside down. The only one I’ve found in
“Two times in the thirty years they were dredging the beach while I was here. That’s how I got a lot of my bigger shells, because they were shot out on the beach from way out there. I was fortunate to be here during the dredging.”
Asked to name her prized finds, Sharon did not hesitate. “I’ve found three junonia shells,” she said proudly. “The one I found last year is almost perfect.”
The junonia shell is a rare find, indeed. Many shell collectors on Marco are still looking for their first.