By Lyndsay Cooler | Fall is the perfect time for shelling on Beaufort’s local beaches. The weather starts to cool a bit and along with decreased beach traffic it leaves incredible opportunities to find beautiful treasures to give as gifts or display in your favorite spaces.
Some of the many varieties found at our beaches are angel wings, augers, olives, cut ribbed ark, babies ear, button, ribbed cantharis, carrier shell, clams, oysters, varieties of conch, coquina, drills, jack knife, jingle shell, kittens paw, keyhole limpets, moon shells, penn shells, tellin, whelk, worm shells and others.
When is the best time to find shells? Low tide is always the best; especially the first low tide of the day. You can find tide charts for a specific Beaufort beach easily on Google at sites such as http://www.huntingisland.com/hunting_island_tide_index.htm and http://tides.willyweather.com/sc/beaufort-county/port-royal-sound–bay-point.html .
Also, watch the lunar charts. Full and new moons bring unusually high/low tides, which bring better shelling. First low tide after a blue moon is always a treat!
Many coastal dwellers fear this time of year because of the risk of passing tropical storms and hurricanes. I look forward to them because we are typically lucky enough they pass by us and the first low tide after a storm is a great time to find unusual treasures due to rough waters churning our shores and washing up lots of shells.
The key to finding the best shells is LOCATION! Look for “shell beds” where groups of shells have washed up. The perimeter is a great place to find shark’s teeth or augers.
The best place to find shells is at the tide lines. With our wide swing in tides, there can be up to 3 of these, including the water line. The middle tide line is typically most productive. Conch shells often get caught between rocks and the animal abandon the shell. If you find one, gently rock the conch out from between its resting place.
Sharks teeth are found frequently at Hunting Island near the sea walls, the middle tide line at the back edge and at Port Royal Sound known by the locals as “The Sands”. These come in many varieties, sizes and colors and some are quite old.
Ever find a gray rock? Pick it up. Smell it. Does it smell like sulfur? You may have found a piece of fulgurite, which is created when lightning strikes the sand. Just like in the movie Sweet Home Alabama.
Sand dollars are a delicate delight, if you are lucky enough to find a whole one. If you see a small mound of sand, especially at the water’s edge at low tide, check under it for a sand dollar. Sand dollars that are green/purple and have a sort of “fur” on the bottom are LIVE creatures. Please return these to the sea. Those washed up light gray or white are dead and can be harvested.
Some additional tips:
- It is illegal to take ANY shell with a live creature, including starfish, sand dollars or crustaceans. Please return them carefully and quickly to the sea.
- For information on how to save your treasures to display and enjoy as a reminder of your time in Beaufort, read our article at http://eatsleepplaybeaufort.com/preserving-your-vacation-treasures/
- At The Sands, be sure to wear shoes of some sort. Oyster shells are sharp and dangerous.
- Carry a small soft back like mesh that drains for your shells.
- Be careful not to put sand dollars in with rocks or other shells as they crush easily.
All photos by ESPB/Lyndsay Cooler
Sources: www.iloveshelling.com , http://www.coastalliving.com/search/site/shelling%20guide , http://ezinearticles.com/search/?q=collecting+seashells