My 10, no 12, ummm 13 Favorite Shell Finds

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I have probably 2,000 shells in my house.  Seriously.  And, it's a clean house.  For the most part.  My shells are organized by shell type and placed in lovely glass containers in spots I have to see as I go about my day.  And, no I don't get sick of them.  Matthew, my husband (my somewhat new husband) asked me as I embarked on my most recent shelling trip, if I could try and be picky about what I brought home.  I think he may be worried about the shell accumulation. 

So, that got me thinking.  If I did get picky, or just specific about my favorite shell finds, which ones would I pick?  Because, let's be honest, there is no way I could pick just one.  I decided to make a Top Ten List of my favorite shell finds.  I'm not even sure I can do it, but I am going to try.  Here we go...(oops, okay, I had to change it to 12 already) we go again...

#13 Neon Cockle, Cherry Grove Beach, SC

Cockle's are common.  It doesn't mean that I don't like to find them, but when you see a lot of the same shell, they become a nice collection, not necessarily a great find.  Unless of course the cockle is neon red for some reason.  

Neon Red Cockle

#12 Wedge Piddocks, Bald Head Island, NC 

One of my favorite things to find is a shell or group of shells that I have never seen before.  When I stumbled upon these creepy, intriguing, and beautiful shells, I had no idea what they were.  Turns out they are Wedge Piddocks, a bi-valve that attaches to various things in the ocean, whether it be driftwood, or a glass bottle that looks a little like an old school liquor bottle.

Wedge Piddocks

#11 Horseshoe Crab, Banks Channel, Wrightsville Beach

You probably know this, but Horseshoe Crabs are over 480 million years old.  That makes them older than Dinosaurs.  And, they still live here.  My theory, along with that of the Tarpon, is that if something is inedible, then it is prehistoric.  Horseshoe Crabs are incredible, and are always one of my favorite things to find and one of my bests.  This one was floating in Banks Channel...wonder what happened to the gorgeous poor critter?  

#10 Kiener Whelk, Bird Island, NC

I love to find whelks, all whelks.  The Knobbed Whelk, the Channeled Whelk, the Pear Whelk...etc., but my favorite is the Kiener.  I love how the knobs are more dramatic, more defined, and more prominent.  The colors tend to be richer as a result.  This whelk had the animal still living inside, so I was only able to take the picture of this find home.  That may be why it is one of my favorites.

Kiener Whelk

#9 Sea Urchin, Cape Fear Point, Bald Head Island, NC

I love a sea urchin.  Each one I find brings me joy.  I love how this one got caught inside this bivalve because of the ocean.  It's a little bit of a peek-a-boo.  

Sea Urchin

#8 Rams Horn, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

Even if I wasn't a rabid Tarheel fan, the Rams Horn would be a favorite.  I just recently found out this shell existed.  I think he must be related to the very tropical Chambered Nautilus, or maybe I just want him to be.  This one is indigenous to the east coast, and such a treat! (GO HEELS!)

Rams Horn

#7 Ravenel Scallop, Longboat Key, FL

Scallops are so elegant, classic, and chic.  Perhaps I feel that way because they all wear bow ties.  The Ravenel Scallop, which is mostly flat with a minor curve, is probably a favorite because I didn't grow up finding them.  I have only found them on Florida's West Coast.  I can't quite place my adoration for this specific scallop, but I guess I really don't have to.  I just love it.

Ravenel Scallop

#6 Shark's Tooth, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

I am not good at finding Shark's Teeth.  And, it's a little upsetting if I start to think about it as I am now.  They are so flipping cool, and everyone agrees.  I did find this one in OD one day when there wasn't any other shell to be found.  I had decided that I would spend my shelling time trying to train my eyes to find shark's teeth.  See what happens when you put your mind to it.

Shark's Tooth

#5 Starfish, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

Starfish are shells I have a love hate relationship with.  Usually when you find them, they are alive, so you only enjoy them for a brief amount of time.  And, if you do find them when they are dead, their color has faded and they are gray.  Which is so disappointing because they are strikingly gorgeous in their intended colors.  This one visited with me for a couple minutes right when the sun was rising.  I'll never forget this little critter.

#4 Sand Dollar, Masonboro Island, NC

Sand Dollars are my favorite shell to find.  Each one brings me such joy.  When I first stumble upon the gem, I actually start talking to it.  I say, "hey, how are are gorgeous, I love you, I am going to take you home and take such good care of you." It really doesn't sound as crazy when I am in the moment.  Isn't this one just spectacular though.  And, can you believe that you can walk on the beach and find this.  In the sand.  Washed up.  Out of the ocean.

Sand Dollar

#3 Sea Biscuit Fossil, Ocean Drive Beach, SC

I'm from Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Hurricane capital of the world.  In 1996 we had 7 hit the area directly.  And, because of that, and because of the beautiful barrier island system along the North Carolina Coast, our beaches are new.  The waters are gorgeous, but our beaches are new.  New to the beach because they are dredged.  So very rarely are fossils found.  Ocean Drive Beach isn't foreign to hurricanes, but their beaches are pristine.  The water isn't as clear, but the sand is softer than silk.  And, because of the low erosion, fossils can appear in the dune line, where is just where this sea biscuit fossil was waiting for me.

#2 Scotch Bonnet, Ocracoke Island, NC

One of my best buds got married on Ocracoke Island.  What a great place to get married, and holy cool island!  I had never been, and not only did they get married in a great place, but the weather was insane.  It was October and a bunch of us, including the groom set out for the beach in a borrowed pick up truck.  I was casually shelling when I came upon a beat up conch.  I picked it up, turned it over, and TA DA!!  My very first Scotch Bonnet.  Which, just in case you didn't know, is North Carolina's State Shell.  

Scotch Bonnet stuck in conch aperture - my brother had to break the conch to release the find.

#1 Giant Tun, Kiawah Island, SC

I was biking along Kiawah shelling in March of this year, and I came upon the Giant Tun.  I didn't know what it was, it was the back of it.  (I still wouldn't have known the shells name, but it's face I certainly would).  As my heart started pounding, I said to myself, "please be whole, please be whole," and as I got off my bike and tip toed around to see if it was indeed whole, I finally took a breath and said, "it is whole".  Then I said, "please don't have an animal in you, please don't have an animal in you."  And, it didn't!  So, then I did some silly dance and took some pictures.  Finally, came back to where I was staying to find out what the name of this beauty was:  The Giant Tun.

Giant Tun

Well, there they are.  As I continue to keep thinking about my favorites, I will probably change my mind.  A couple of my favorites that didn't make the list are the Keyhole Limpet (which I grew up calling a Chinaman's Hat), the Lettered Olive (Key Shell - and always a joy to find), Lightning Whelks, Wentletraps, Coral, Baby Ears, Nutmegs, Florida Fighting Conchs, Turbans, Ceriths, Maginella, and Moon Stones.  There are more, but it's going to get dark soon, and I need to comb the beach.

Happy Hunting and Gathering,

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