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The podcast that's a beach break for your ears

Shellcast Podcast

Welcome to Shellcast. Listen in, relax, soak up some virtual sun and hear what makes Southwest Florida so special. Enjoy the featured episodes below or subscribe to Shellcast wherever fine podcasts are downloaded. Did we mention it’s free?

Shellcast Episode 20: Island Hopper Preview with Essex County

Essex County, the band of brothers Nate, Mark and Kieran Bass, tell what they love about Island Hopper Songwriter Fest and why you should be there, plus they sing an a cappella song, just for Shellcast. Island Hopper is set for Sept. 22-Oct. 1, with shows on Captiva Island, Cape Coral, downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach. Recorded Aug. 18, 2023 IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 19: “Drink Happy Thoughts” with Kristian Bush

 This Island Hopper Songwriter Fest preview features an interview with Grammy-award winning performer Kristian Bush. He talks about why this year’s event is so special and why you should be there. Bush is the opening act for headliner Chris Janson on Oct. 1 at the Pink Shell Pool Party. Use the official Island Hopper app to purchase tickets. Island Hopper is set for Sept. 22-Oct. 1, with shows on Captiva Island, Cape Coral, downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach. Recorded Aug. 18, 2023. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 18: Spring training - Let the games begin

The Grapefruit League’s in full swing and this episode takes you to the Lee County Sports Complex for a spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Florida. Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development, tells how Hammond Stadium and JetBlue Park play into Lee County sports tourism. Recorded Mar. 3, 2023 IG @shellcastthepodcast


Episode 17: For the Birds

What’s the difference between bird watching and being a birder? Quite a lot, according to ardent birder Dr. Jose Padilla-Lopez. Spend some time with him at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve in Fort Myers and you’ll learn more than a few things about the birds to be seen along the boardwalk. Jose breaks down birding with his easy-to-understand, five-point plan:

  1. Why birding is good for you
  2. What you need to start birding
  3. Birding hotspots in and around Fort Myers
  4. A few of the best birds to be found in the greater Fort Myers area
  5. How to meet other local birders and learn from them

Recorded Jan. 25, 2023 IG @shellcastthepodcast


Episode 16: A lazy river for manatees

Manatee Park in Fort Myers gives non-captive, Florida manatees a warm place to stay when the waters of the Gulf of Mexico dip below 68° F (20° C). It’s also a fun thing for visitors to do, especially January-March. The warm water in the park’s canal comes from the Florida Power and Light Power Plant across the street and is created as a byproduct of cooling off its equipment. Interviews include Laura Carr, Lee County Parks and Recreation, and visitors to Manatee Park. Recorded Jan. 16 and 18, 2023. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 15: Boca Grande welcomes holiday season

Celebrate the holiday season with the Lighting of the Lighthouse at Port Boca Grande Lighthouse on Gasparilla Island and hear from the locals about how this island community is recovering from Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane that hit Southwest Florida on Sept. 28. Interviews with Sharon McKenzie, executive director, Barrier Island Parks Society; Gary Cross, president of Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce; Sue Herbert, resident of Fremont, Ohio, and Englewood, Florida; Andrew and Brittany Madison, residents of Englewood; Paul Townsend, lighthouse docent. Recorded Dec. 8 and 10, 2022. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 14: Fort Myers Beach shows its resiliency

Fort Myers Beach business owners and visitors talk about the recovery and cleanup efforts that continue weeks after Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 hurricane slammed into Southwest Florida on Sept. 28. Interviews with Peter Ennis, owner of Wahoo Willie's; Tom Fritz, resident of Fort Myers; Rebecca Henderson, general manager of Bayfront Bistro; Tom Houghton, owner of La Ola; Bill Ignatti, general manager of Wahoo Willie's; Jacki Liszak, president of Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce; Cameron Roper, host at Bayfront Bistro; and Diane and Jeff Stone, visitors from upstate New York. Recorded Nov. 16, 2022. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 13: Sanibel Causeway reopens ahead of schedule

Sanibel Mayor Holly Smith and John Lai, president and CEO of Sanibel Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, talk about the Oct. 19 reopening of the Sanibel Causeway, restoring access to residents and constructions crews just three weeks after Hurricane Ian. The Causeway’s reopening marks a significant milestone in Lee County’s recovery from the Category 4 hurricane that hit Southwest Florida on Sept. 28. Recorded Oct. 20, 2022. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 12: Island Hopper Songwriter Fest Sampler

Sun, sand and songs. That's Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. Now in its eighth year, the event brings singer-songwriters to Captiva Island, downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach for 10 days of music, Sept. 16-25. Performances by two-time Grammy winner Kristian Bush and Sheena Brook, along with interviews with Essex County, Dan Spears of BMI and music writer Cindy Watts. Recorded Sept. 17, 2022. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 11: Fly Fishing With Norm Zeigler and His Schminnow

Sanibel Island’s Blind Pass Beach is one of the best places in Southwest Florida for fly fishing, according to Norm Zeigler – and he should know. That’s where we chat with Zeigler, outdoor writer, author and creator of the Schminnow, an elegant fly – the name combines shrimp + minnow –  known to catch more than 70 kinds of fresh and salt water fish. Recorded July 14, 2021. IG @shellcastthepodcast


Shellcast Episode 10: Good Dog Beach

See Spot Splash at Dog Beach in Bonita Springs, where dog paddling is the preferred swimming stroke. Hot dogs of all sizes gather here for fun in the shallow inlet off the Gulf of Mexico and south of Lovers Key State Park. Off-leash or on, there’s no mistaking the fresh breeze off the gulf with a hint of wet dog. One of’s pet friendly faves. Recorded June 3, 2021. IG @shellcastthepodcast



Shellcast Episode 9: When I Get Older, I Want to Be a Manatee

Manatees love warm water. So, when the waters in the Gulf of Mexico cool, the gentle, slow-moving mammals swim through several bodies of water to arrive here at Manatee Park in Fort Myers. Laura Carr, Lee County Parks & Recreation specialist, tells us what she’s learned about these super-sized vegetarians who can’t say no (it’s a vertebrae thing) and how it might even be cool to be a manatee.


Shellcast Episode 8: Everglades Wonder Gardens, an Original Florida Roadside Attraction

Everglades Wonder Gardens, one of Florida's original roadside attractions, welcomes about 75,000 visitors annually to Bonita Springs. Its new executive director, David Rahahętih Webb, is eager to bring conservation and education to the forefront of the Wonder Gardens, while keeping its kitschy-cool vibe. Hear his plans and listen in on a flamingo-feeding frenzy at the 3-acre attraction, established in 1936.


Shellcast Episode 7: All About the Wow & When Nature Calls

WoW, aka Wildlife on Wheels, is the newest addition to J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. Ranger Toni Westland describes the mobile education facility and how it will be part of the refuge’s 75th anniversary. WoW will visit schools, libraries, senior facilities and festivals in the five-county area to teach about water quality, the ecosystem and wildlife. Finally, when you've gotta go, where better to go than an award-winning Learning Lavatory?

Do you like what you hear? Enjoy more by subscribing to Shellcast wherever fine podcasts are downloaded! 

Shellcast Episode 6: Talking Scat on the Indigo Trail

Hear the crunch, crunch, crunch of the shell-covered Indigo Trail on our hike with Ranger Toni Westland at Sanibel Island's J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The 6,400-acre refuge is home to endangered and threatened species as well as over 245 species of birds. Our visit to the four-mile, round-trip Indigo Trail includes a stop at the Wildlife Education Boardwalk for a lesson in scat.


Shellcast Episode 5: Pretty in Pink Birdwatching With Ranger Toni

Be part of a successful morning visit in search of roseate spoonbills, Florida's other pink birds, at Sanibel Island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Ranger Toni Westland takes us on Wildlife Drive, a four-mile paved road within the 6,400-acre refuge that is home to endangered and threatened species as well as over 245 species of birds.


Shellcast Episode 4: What Would Thomas Edison Think About Podcasts?

Enjoy a visit to Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida, with Mike Cosden, executive vice president of the 20-acre estate located along the scenic Caloosahatchee River. Cosden tells us how Thomas Edison’s passion for this Southwest Florida city made it a destination for snowbirds and visitors worldwide, and considers what the inventor might have thought about podcasts. Take in the historic homes of Edison and Ford, the beautiful gardens and grounds, the inventor’s laboratory, and many other interesting features.


Shellcast Episode 3: on the Water With Capt. Brian Holaway

Come aboard for a boat ride in the Pine Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico with one of Southwest Florida’s favorite outdoor guides.

Shellcast Extras: Tour Cayo Costa State Park and Cayo Costa’s Pioneer Cemetery


Shellcast Episode 2: Cape Coral’s Burrowing Owl Festival

Did you know? Burrowing Owls can be seen during the day. Hear how Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife celebrates the only owl that lives underground.



Shellcast Episode 1: Sanibel Beach Time

Take a walk along a Sanibel Island beach with someone who really knows shells – Dorrie Hipschman, executive director, The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel.

Shellcast Extras: The Shell Museum’s furriest intern and Sanibel memories