Shelling On The Beaches: How Do Shells End Up On The Beaches

Empty seashells are often washed up on beaches. But, not only the beachcomber who will search the beach to find and collect interesting stuff, including shells, the average beachgoer has that satisfaction of shelling on the beaches quite often.

Simply anyone that enjoys those nice long walks along the shores and beaches will spend most of their time either looking at the sun, the sea or most likely will look into the sand for those beautiful colorful unique shells to pick them up and bring them home.

Although the first place you probably would want to look for shells is the sandy beaches, they can be often stuck in the rocks too or be just a few steps away in the shallow waters. Sometimes it’s quite worthed to bring your snorkeling mask with you and check underwater in the shallows where you may find plentiful shells as well.

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Those beautiful colorful seashells that we often can find on the beaches were once a shell to alive marine animals without backbones called mollusks like snails, clams, and oysters. Depending on their diet they can grow these shells to have amazing colorful patterns.

Mollusks can turn their shells into different colors by eating a variety of colorful food. So, the ones that live in a tropical climate where there is more food in various colors near the coral reefs, for example, have much more colorful shells than the ones living in more cooler climates. When the mollusks, the animal dies and most likely ends up eaten by another animal, leaves the shell empty.

After a storm when the wind blows it’s when the waves will bring those rare shells from the deep waters of the ocean. Morning hours are probably the best time for shelling on the beaches. On a low tide or after a storm go to the beach early in the morning and enjoy your start of the day with the exceptional shell examples that you may find. Besides for the sunrise, the air, the smell of the sea that you gonna feel on the way you’ll be rewarded at the end of the walk with those beautiful shell findings.

The best time for shelling would be an hour before or after low tide. The coastal areas have two low tides every 24 hours. So, you have an a.m. tide and a p.m. tide. A moon is a great sign of low and high tides, but there are also apps for tides. You can check on that and plan your best timing for gathering shells.

Now, when you do bring your findings home, you’d certainly need to wash and clean them. Simply because some of them will smell bad, others may have algae, sand or mud and lastly, you’d wanna have them all shiny. To clean the shells from any animal tissue, you can either boil them for a few minutes or freeze them. If your seashells have already died, you can clean them with bleach and water. But, to bring out the true color of the shell you should: put a little bit of muriatic acid into a glass of water, dip the shell into it for a few seconds and then wash it out in the clean water. Finally, as a finishing touch, they can be polished with mineral oil.

Seashells can be so inspiring and decorative too. Enrich your living space and bring part of the ocean into your home. You can take a nice bowl or vase, fill them with sand and put the colorful shells that can be arranged in various ways. Or, you can attach them to different items, such as bags, make jewelry etc. It can look so refreshing with all that ocean energy around. No wonder they have such a deep connection with human’s cultures for so long.

And the beauty doesn’t end here. Seashells can be so gorgeous on the inside too because they are capable of producing beautiful pearls. Most pearls are not perfectly round though, as we are used to seeing them. Any mollusk that produce a shell can produce a pearl. So, sometimes when you open a shell you may be lucky enough to find real white lustrous pearls inside.


Beside the seashells that have a shell made of calcium carbonate, there are other marine animals with a skeleton made of calcium carbonate as well, such as sea stars, sand dollars, and sea urchins. When the animal dies the skeleton of these animals remains empty just as seashells do and ends up washed up on beaches too. They also can be collected from the sandy beaches.

That’s why the people on the tropical islands have exceptionally beautiful smiles and bright white teeth, because of the calcium in the shallow waters. It looks so good on them that they should never stop smiling.

Collecting seashells from the beaches may seem like naive activity, like: look what I found on the ground. But, the fact is that in some areas, like national parks, where the natural surroundings are legally protected, if anything is taken from that area it would be illegal, including seashells. Also, on some beaches live shelling is forbidden or collecting seashells that are still alive is against the law. You can tell if a shell is alive if you turn it over and you see an animal inside moving. So, keep in mind those possibilities and always inform yourself well about the area you’ll be visiting.

Probably one of the best destinations for shelling in the world would be Sanibel Island, Florida in the US.

There is always something nice that you can do on the beach. It’s always a good time for the beach.