Art & Artifacts of St Vincent Island

November 01, 2019  •  37 Comments

Prehistoric Pottery Shard

On a recent visit to St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal, Sue, Jeff, and I discovered a spot where an ancient Indian midden (=prehistoric trash pile) was eroding into the Gulf. That is, the beach was loaded with old worm-riddled oyster shells and pottery shards. In short order, we found a few dozen “choice” pieces and I photographed them on site.  It wasn’t the first time for such an adventure, nor is it likely our last, but it seems timely to present some of my artsy photos from years of exploring this island paradise with our friends.  

Cabbage Top PanoCabbage Top Pano

Cabbage Top - a prominant palm grove on the island's bayside.

Tahiti Beach Palm GroveTahiti Beach Palm Grove

Tahiti Beach - the rarely visited jewel-of-a-beach at St. V's east end  St Vincent SunriseSt Vincent Sunrise

St Vincent Sunrise - the dunes on the Gulf front.

There!  Three images to establish that this is one beautiful island. In this post, I'm mostly going to zoom in to treasures and artsy jewels found in the course of our many explorations.  Let's start with the sand beneath our feet.

Last Rays on BeachLast Rays on Beach

Last Rays of Light

Corrugated SandCorrugated Sand

Sand Corrugation

Microbial ArtMicrobial Art

Microbial Art I - The amazing palette of  algae and micro-organisms


Snail-spun “Doughnuts” Slow Motion 

Sand in SunriseSand in Sunrise

Sand Storm at Sunrise

Sand ScallopsSand Scallops

Sand Decor

Microbial Art 2Microbial Art 2

Microbial Art II

Sand BandsSand Bands

Sand Bands

Snakeskin WaterSandSnakeskin WaterSandPatterns emerge as tannic pond water overflows across the beach sand into the Gulf.

Snakeskin Water.  A small rivulet draining across the beach.

Sand CastlesSand Castles

Sand Castles
Living Beach SandLiving Beach Sand

Living Beach Sand. Coquinas in the surf wash on the Gulf beach.

Shells AboundShells Abound

Shells Abound

Then there are the living creatures of St. Vincent -- the birds, crabs, fish, even jellyfish -- who sometimes find themselves the subject of artsy photos. 

Black Skimmer SunriseBlack Skimmer Sunrise

Black Skimmer Sunrise

Blue Crab ArtBlue Crab ArtWatery impression of an underwater blue crab burying itself in the sand. St. Vincent Island, FL

Blue Crab Art

Feeding on LightFeeding on Light

Feeding on Light

Pygmy RattlerPygmy Rattler

Pygmy Rattlesnake. 

Why do these deadly little masters of camouflage seem to always like trails?  I've very nearly stepped on three of them in my Crocs or flip flops.

Heron SilhouetteHeron Silhouette

Heron Silhouette

Praising the SeaPraising the Sea

Praising the Sea

Stingray ArtStingray ArtA large Southern Stingray swam near as I waded the shallows along the Gulf shore. Both curious, we checked each other out. St Vincent Island, FL

Sting Ray Art

Skimmers in LightSkimmers in Light

Skimmers in Light

Gar ScalesGar Scales

Gar Scales

Home in a CannonballHome in a CannonballA juvenile sheepshead seeks safety in the folds of a cannonball jellyfish. Notice the bubble by the sheepshead holds a perfect fisheye replication of the fish and jellyfish. St. Vincent Island, FL

Cannonball Jellyfish -- with Pilotfish pal

Watery SunbeamWatery Sunbeam

Watery Sunbeam

Over many years, Crystal and I have shared adventures (and misadventures too - stories in themselves) with Susan Cerulean and Jeff Chanton at St. Vincent Island. We've seen the roaming wolves and soaring eagles, crossed paths with big alligators, watched the dolphins leap and the pelicans dive, and hiked the forests and beaches.  Sue, a writer and biologist wrote a beautiful book, Coming to Pass -- about St Vincent and our stories, as well as other nearby barrier islands and their fragile ecology.  She is currently the President of the Friends of St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, and the island's fiercest defender. Jeff is a renowned FSU oceanographer, and one of his research projects is measuring the impact of sea level rise on this barrier island.


So my photos made the cover and are scattered among the pages of this wonderful book.  I encourage you to check it out.  For a little taste, here is my blogpost about Coming to Pass (with several passages quoted from the book).  And here are a few snapshots from our forays on the Island.

Exploring St VExploring St V

Sue and Jeff -- Exploring St. Vincent

Crystal AseaCrystal Asea

Crystal Cools Off

Exploring St V -3Exploring St V -3

Exploring St. Vincent

Exploring St V 2Exploring St V 2 Hiking St VHiking St V

Sunrise SpeedboatSunrise Speedboat

Sunrise Speedboat

Native Americans inhabited St. Vincent Island starting more than 2000 years ago.  Fresh water, few predators, and all the oysters you can eat. They left some big trash heaps, er, middens, as record of their presence and food source.  Now, the middens are receding heaps of treasure, slowly eroding as the island sinks into the rising sea. The oyster shells from these old middens are quite beautiful.

Oyster Shell 1Oyster Shell 1

Eroding MiddenEroding Midden

Eroding Midden

Oyster Shell 4Oyster Shell 4

Oyster Shell Comp 1Oyster Shell Comp 1

Oyster Shell 3Oyster Shell 3 Oyster Shell 6Oyster Shell 6 Oyster PaversOyster Pavers Oyster Shell 2Oyster Shell 2 Fried EggFried Egg

Oh, and a few other shells thrown in...

Shell ToolShell Tool

Shell Tool - I imagine a stick was driven through the holes.
Moon ShellMoon Shell

Modern Moon Shell (not from a midden)

Seashell in SunsetSeashell in Sunset

Seashell in Sunset Wash

Scattered amid the numerous midden shells are many fragments from old pots made by the ancient Native Americans.  Most are just black and quite worn, but a few have patterns, colors, and rims. They're fun to find even though it's forbidden to take them away (except as photos).

Pottery Chards 1Pottery Chards 1 Pottery Chards 4Pottery Chards 4 Pottery Chards 3Pottery Chards 3 Pottery Chards 5Pottery Chards 5 Pottery Chards 6Pottery Chards 6 Pottery Chards 7Pottery Chards 7 Pottery Chards 8Pottery Chards 8 Pottery Chards 9Pottery Chards 9 Pottery Chards 11Pottery Chards 11 Pottery Chards 10Pottery Chards 10 Pottery Chards 2Pottery Chards 2

Here are a few classics of the earth and sky that reflect the many moods of St. Vincent.

St Vincent Storm PanoramaSt Vincent Storm Panorama

Stormy St. Vincent

Front Beach SunriseFront Beach Sunrise

Front Beach Sunrise

Flying the Amazing SkyFlying the Amazing Sky

Flying in Glory

Morning Storm over St VMorning Storm over St V

Morning Storm over the Island

Textured SkyTextured Sky

Lying on the Beach Looking Up

Pelican SunsetPelican Sunset

Pelican Sunset

And finally, a few artsy images of St. V's flora.

Palmetto FanPalmetto Fan

Palmetto Fan (post-burn)

Palm TotemPalm Totem

Nature-totemized Palm Trunk

Sand SpursSand Spurs

Sand Spur - aplenty

Waves of WoodWaves of Wood

Waves of Wood

Rattle BoxRattle Box


Pine MosaicPine Mosaic

Pine Mosaic (post-burn)

Palm BarkPalm Bark

Fallen Palm Patina

As usual, I could go on... and on. But I've given you a look at St. Vincent through my eye and lens.  I encourage you to find a way into the wild places near you -- galleries of Nature's Art to delight your eye and soothe your soul.  Your comments below are much appreciated, and please share this link generously.



Amazing. Ive always wanted to go out to St. Vincent.
Suzanne Conner(non-registered)
As usual totally mesmerizing! Thank you for sharing.
Julea Williams(non-registered)
It truly is a paradise! Fabulous photos! Would love to go back soon! Thank you for sharing!
Chris Hill(non-registered)
Fantastic. Thank you for sharing!
Suzanne Conner(non-registered)
Just breathtaking! Every photo was a gem to this Florida girl!!!
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