For as long as I can remember I have collected sea shells at the seashore.
Big shells, small shells, in between shells, I enjoy all shells.
There is just something about combing the shore looking for that colorful gift from the sea with the sounds of waves crashing on the shore in the background.
While I enjoy shells of all shapes and sizes my particular favorite shell to seek is scallops.
I enjoy scallops broiled and buttered so I guess it makes sense that I enjoy collecting their shells as well.
While many scallops can be rather plain, if one digs deep enough they can find many colors in the scallop rainbow.
Another neat thing to look for when collecting shells are periwinkles. Periwinkles, like scallops, are considered bivalve, or hinged shells.
Periwinkles tend to be more delicate than scallops and there are added bonus points if you can find the two halves still connected.
I like to think that I have a good eye for finding shells by focusing on the scallops which tend to be larger I guess it makes them easier to find.
Others I know have a zen like ability to hone in on the tiniest of periwinkles in the sand.
Another thing I enjoy about sea shell collecting is that there are no special tools required.
I am sure that the people combing the sand with their metal detectors beeping at the slightest hint of metal find some hidden gems as well. But for me, the seashell is the only treasure at the water line that I need.
And I can hear the sound of the waves crashing to the shore instead of a beeping in my ear when I am collecting seashells so that is certainly an advantage over metal detectors in my book.
As I mentioned I have a long history with collecting and displaying sea shells. When I was in third grade I did a science project on sea shells.
I recently found the report that I wrote that went along with the colorful poster board of the various shells along the Florida coast. Aside from marveling at how much better third grader me’s handwriting appears to be compared to my current lack of attention to penmanship, I found the report to be rather informative.
Armed with a plastic shopping bag and a keen eye focused downward the avid shell seeker can scan the sand looking for the shells that speak to them.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when starting to collect sea shells.
First of all it is important to make sure that the shell is no longer occupied since no one wants a surprise hermit crab attack when reaching into their shell sack later. While I have yet to feel the pinch of a hermit crab I have come close a few times.
A second key to collecting seashells is to make sure that the shell does not contain any organic material left over from the former inhabitant.
There is nothing worse than putting shells in the hotel sink to wash and then waking up in the middle of the night to a horrific stench from a rotten shell in the bunch.
Thirdly, it is best to do the collecting at low tide to minimize the amount of water one needs to fight for the shells.
While many seaside stores sell sea shells by the sack full, they are really not the type of sea shell collecting I am referring to.
Often times the shells that are sold at the store at the shore are not native to that particular region so that tends to be another reason to steer clear of them.
When I am collecting shells I tend to stick with the native shells.
There are countless books and websites available to help one identifying the shells that a specific region is home to.
While it is certainly not required to do research ahead of a shell seeking adventure, I find it can be fun to know the types of shells to look for in a certain region.
Shells are also categorized as plentiful and rare in certain areas. For an extra challenge I always try to find one of the rare shells for that region as part of my shelling adventures.
So for the beginner and the professional shell collector alike, I wish you low tides and good shelling. And be sure to give those metal detector operators plenty of space.
Now if you’ll excuse me I think it is time to plan a trip to the seashore to find some seashells.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson