Science & Nature on Shell Key

Shell Key is a popular location for the study of nature.  Activities on the island include oceanography, wildlife observation and amateur astronomy. View updates on science activity at Shell Key below.

Science on Shell Key…

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Questions and Comments

Article: Science & Nature on Shell Key
8 comments on “Science & Nature on Shell Key
  1. Jacob Heimerschmidt says:

    What magnitude skies can you get on Shell Key?

  2. Carrie says:

    We will be in the area to snorkel next week as well as view the wildlife on Shell Key. Is there a website, or could you provide information as to which species of fish, birds and reptiles we might encounter? I know your website gives information about nesting turtles. We would like to avoid disturbing any nest so can you tell us what to look for so as to not inadvertently do harm to such beautiful creatures? Thank you and we look forward to enjoying your area!

    • Jack Coletti says:

      Hi Carrie,

      You can see the complete list of animals and plants prepared for the Shell Key Management Plan Here. At this time of year, you might look out for nesting sea birds. The Audubon volunteers usually mark those areas with signs and ribbons – so they should be easy to avoid.

      Hope you enjoy your visit!


      • Carrie says:

        Thanks so much for the link! I cannot wait to hit the key & see how many we can identify. We also have an underwater camera to take pics of all the amazing sea life as well as the land and air inhabitants of the island. Most of the family doesn’t get in the water so it is nice to be able to share! I saw dwarf seahorses listed so that is going to be one of my main goals in trying to photograph them in their native habitat.

        Thanks again!

  3. Willis Sutherland says:

    Mr. Jack Coletti,

    Sir, I am interested in camping on Shell Key and use my telescope at the same time..I do not own a boat…Is there boat transportation (or other) to and from Shell Key??? Thank you for the information

    • Jack Coletti says:

      Mr. Sutherland,

      There is not currently a service that will take you to Shell Key and leave you overnight. The ferries going to the island are concerned about liability. However, depending on the size of your telescope, you might consider renting a double kayak for an overnight excursion. I believe that the folks at Blind Pass Boat and Jet Ski recently started renting kayaks for overnight trips This would work if you are using a small refractor, SCT or collapsible Dobsonian scope. (Not a good idea if you want to bring a large reflector/dobsonian)

      Once on the island, I would recommend the southwest corner of the island for amateur astronomy,-82.745166&spn=0.002278,0.004128&t=k&z=19 . (watch out for sandspurs) The sand dunes in that area will block most of the direct local light from the north and from the beaches. If you find the right spot, you’ll think you’re in the middle of nowhere. I have observed magnitude 6+ skies from that area on several occasions – especially toward the west or southwest. We once observed a quasar from that location. Planetary viewing, of course, won’t be greatly affected by light pollution – but you should see some sweet summer Milky Way this time of year (weather permitting).

      We do an annual star party on the island in November – and the invitation is open to anyone interested in attending. Here is the video from our 2008 star party .

      Hope this helps.

      Clear Skies,


    • Jack Coletti says:

      Mr. Sutherland,

      I have an update for you regarding transportation for Shell Key campers. I just received word that the Island Ferry has just started a shuttle service for people that want to stay overnight. You can get more information at

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