Shelling on Bald Head Island

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This looks fake, but it's not!  What a shelling week!  

I love Bald Head Island (BHI).  But, it's more than love.  There is an ad in Bald Head Island's Magazine, Haven (which I don't think has published a new issue in over 6 months), that says:  "Do you believe a place can have a soul?"  That's exactly how it feels.  Or, maybe I just am in tune more with my soul while I am here.

One of my many favorite things to do on BHI is shell.  Growing up visiting this lovely island, I remember shells being almost everywhere.  My siblings, cousins, and I would find sand dollars daily, right out on the beach from my Mimi and Grandaddy's house, which was on Silversides.  As I have gotten older though, it seems more difficult to find shells.  Until now.  I think I have it figured out, but it takes a lot of work, exploring, and exercise.

On Sunday Morning, I headed out to West Beach.  I had some good luck here this past summer, so I tend to start out there.  We passed some nice folks from Richmond who gave me 3 sand dollars they had found on South Beach.  Crazy!  I haven't found a decent shell on South Beach since Mimi and Grandaddy days.  But, this is where they are.  And, they are white.  I say white because many times when you find sand dollars, you find them brown, still alive although dying.  Not to worry if you find them this way, you can't save them.  But, they are going to stink.  And, it's tough to get them looking the natural white color that the ocean gives them.

Where West and South Beach meet on Bald Head Island, there is an obvious erosion problem.  There always has been.  The old clubhouse had to be torn down because it was sitting in the Atlantic.  It is continually maintained, which is a completely different topic to discuss, by groins that stick out into the Atlantic to prevent additional erosion.    

BHI Groins - now covered because of "beach re-nourishment".

There are approximately 10-12 of these groins that start on South Beach and end where West Beach starts. It's also where the mouth of the Cape Fear River meets the Atlantic Ocean, so you can imagine the water is a bit tumultuous.

Amazingly enough, sand dollars have been washing up here all week, and it's like finding a treasure every time!  Sunday, I found 19, Monday I found 15, and yesterday I found another 15.  I found a few on East Beach as well, but if you want sand dollars, go to the groins.
Sand Dollar 1.

Sand Dollar 2. (I speak to every single one I find)!

Don't you love when you can almost imagine how the ocean situated this treasure?

Recently removed from it's bed - the currents here are unrelenting.  But, I promise to decorate or give away brillantly!


One of my favorite ways to find Sand Dollars - seeing the star and digging it (carefully) out!

Bird tried to get the goods behind the star - not gonna work.



New, but lovely.

If I hadn't found this today, it would either be whiten by the sun and ready for me to find, or broken.

This one has been washed ashore for a while now - you can tell by the skeleton being obvious - very fragile!

Atlantic Ocean and a bit of the Cape Fear washing over...beautiful!

Each one is more perfect than the last!

Think that orange on it is result of Cape Fear River.

Another bird or crab tried to poke into this lovely you didn't.

I find loads of sand dollars with the lower edges cut off - my theory - a crab!


I love them all.


I looks like a bird tried to break the shell; they must be tasty as I see this often.


You will be taken care of now.

Will turn your hands jaundice.

I love each the same.  

Love you, Sand Dollar!

Yes, I took a picture of every sand dollar I found, but I won't keep boring you with the pictures, although I do think they are beautiful.

Sea Urchins were popular on Bald Head too, but mostly on East Beach, where I found them almost in clumps at the Point at Cape Fear.  I have spent much of my time this week cleaning them, but they are gorgeous and perfect to decorate with for Christmas!

What a BOUNTY - thank you Bald Head Island!

Sea Urchin Stars - gorgeous and where the Sea Urchin Star Design was born.

Check out my designs, if you haven't here.

Happy Shelling!



  1. Hi Margaret,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Bald Head Island to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Jane - I JUST emailed you. MY apologies! I hope you are still interested! Let me know if you didn't get it! Thanks so much! Best,

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Margaret!
    I’m planning on possibly visiting Bald Head Island mid-February for some shelling. I’m not familiar with the area, so I was wondering if you could tell me where the Point at Cape Fear is where you found all the urchins? And where are the groins located to look for sand dollars? Where could I park to get onto the beach near these?
    Thanks for any info!


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