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Archive for the ‘Seashells’ Category

A Seashell in My Pocket

Posted by Jody on March 10, 2014

Jody:

Pocket Seashells

Pocket Seashells

Happy Monday! I just found some of these little beauties on Maggie’s site and thought it was a great time to share these pocket-sized stress-busting beach treasures once again.

Originally posted on Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches:

We’re always looking for ways to use our special beachcombing finds. Here is just one more idea for putting those beach treasures to good use ~ everyday!

You may have heard of worry stones (or pocket stones) – those little, highly polished pieces of gemstone with a slight indention for your thumb.  I’ve often seen them for sale near the cash registers of gift shops and kitschy boutiques. They can be kind of pricey.

Rumored to have originated in Ancient Greece, when held between the thumb and forefinger, worry stones are supposed to relieve stress and reduce worries. Light enough to keep in your pocket, you can readily fidget with one in stressful or nerve-racking situations.

There is another version of the pocket stone that doesn’t have the smooth indentation for the thumb.  They are called  reflection stones and are used as a reminder to stay calm, balanced, grateful, etc. …

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Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Monday Miscellaneous, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tiny San Diego Beach Treasures: It Pays to Look Closely!

Posted by Jody on March 7, 2014

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is Robyn W.

Tiny San Diego Beach Treasures: It Pays to Look Closely!

Some special little shells have washed up around the county in the past few weeks. I’ve been lucky to be able to sneak off to the beach here and there in the midst of a busy schedule, and was thrilled to find my first­-ever tusk shell in January on the sand at False Point, on the northern end of the Tourmaline Surfing Park. It is a Six­-sided Tusk shell, and there was only one. After looking for tusk shells on and off for the past 37 years in San Diego, this seemed pretty special.

Dentalium neohexagonum from La Jolla, California

Dentalium neohexagonum from La Jolla, California

Dentalium neohexagonum, the Six­sided Tusk shell. It is a little under an inch long. (January 2014)

Then, last week, I took a walk south from the southern end of Imperial Beach, and found a LOT of tusk shells in the drift debris at low tide. These were almost all the Indian Money Tusk, the shell that was prized as currency by the native peoples of the west coast in the past. Two little Six­-sided Tusks were found that day also.

Antalis pretiosum, the Indian Money Tusk

Antalis pretiosum, the Indian Money Tusk

Antalis pretiosum, the Indian Money Tusk. The largest is a little over an inch long. (February 2014)

Back at False Point in January, there were tiny Tinted Wentletraps washed up here and there on the sand. The largest in the photo is about ¼ inch long.

Epitonium tinctum, the Tinted Wentletrap

Epitonium tinctum, the Tinted Wentletrap

Epitonium tinctum, the Tinted Wentletrap. (January 2014)

One more San Diego beach treasure…but from a while ago, are these trivias found in the shelly debris at low tide way back around the year 2000. They were found at Torrey Pines State Beach, and I have never seen them since. They are about ¼ inch long.

Trivia californiana from Torrey Pines, Califoenia

Trivia californiana from Torrey Pines, California

Trivia californiana, the “Coffee Bean”.

Keep an eye out for San Diego’s tiny beach treasures ­ you’ll find them where you least expect them!

~~~

Robyn, what fun! You have quite an eye. These tiny beach treasures are absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your beachy times and your amazing treasure trove with us! I feel as if I’ve just had a great day at the beach too! ~Jody

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Featured Guest Writer, Friday Finds, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

The Royalty of San Diego’s South Bay: Imperial Beach

Posted by Jody on February 19, 2014

Imperial Beach, California – Heading for the pier.

When I think of Imperial Beach, California, I think of everything surfing: from genuine Southern California surfers riding the waves to the community’s public art, the outdoor “Surfboard Museum” and even the surfboard shaped bus stop benches!  This town always brings to mind classic Beach Boys surfin’ tunes.

Imperial Beach, California

Imperial Beach has so much more to offer than surfing, though.  Here you’ll find 3 ½ miles of clean, white, sandy beach stretching southward to the US-Mexico border. With splendid views of San Diego and Coronado to the north, somehow Imperial Beach never seems crowded. It’s less than 13 miles from Downtown San Diego, so Greg and I are always happy to either make the drive or hop on the bus and head on down to this lovely stretch of beach. If we had to choose, we’d likely tell you that this is our favorite strand of San Diego’s “South Bay.”

According to the their official website, the City of Imperial Beach is “the most southwesterly city in the continental United States.  Flanked by the Pacific Ocean and South San Diego Bay, our town is nestled between miles of uncrowded beaches, big surf and unparalleled open space and wetlands teeming with wildlife. Because this town is one of the last untouched beach towns in Southern California, we are known as Classic Southern California®.”

Imperial Beach, California

Beachcombing is lots of fun here. We always find something interesting on the sands of Imperial Beach.  Once Greg and I came home with a lovely collection of multicolored Donax clam shells, very typical of Southern California beaches. The last time we visited, we found large, heavy clam shells, sand dollars and California mussels.

From what I have been able to search out, these sturdy clams are Common Washington Clams (Saxidomus nuttalli), also known as Butter Clams. Our largest Washington Clam find on Imperial Beach measures 4 ¾” wide,  but we have found these particular seashells up to 5 ¼” wide on other South Bay beaches. Their range is from Humbolt Bay, California to northern Baja California.

Imperial Beach Treasures (California)

This area is well-known for year round coastal birdwatching (a printable map of birdwatching areas is available online).  For the botanist,  there is an interesting variety of coastal vegetation, too. Of course, swimming and sunbathing are also very popular pastimes!  With all that Imperial Beach has to offer, I’d say it’s “One Shell of a Find!”

“Spirit of Imperial Beach” by James A. Wasil, 2008

If you’d like to learn about the interesting history of surfing at Imperial Beach and the big wave break “Tijuana Sloughs” that made this area famous in the surfing world, you’ll want to check out “Riders of The Tijuana Sloughs,” at LegendarySurfers.com.

Bus Stop Bench in Imperial Beach, California

Surfin’ USA

If everybody had an ocean
Across the U. S. A.
Then everybody’d be surfin’
Like Californi-a
You’d see ‘em wearing their baggies
Huarachi sandals too
A bushy bushy blonde hairdo
Surfin’ U. S. A.

~Brian Wilson/Chuck Berry

We’d love to hear about your favorite Southern California beach!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Southern California Beaches, Surfing Beach | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Sylvan Beach Park ~OR~ Who would go to the beach to use the internet!?

Posted by E.G.D. on February 12, 2014

Beautiful Sylvan Beach Park

Beautiful Sylvan Beach Park

Sylvan Beach Park

It’s super clean!

Sylvan Beach Park

Lots of Grassy Space

Last month, when my mom and dad were visiting for my nephew’s birthday, I managed to reach whole new echelons of busy.  I’m not going to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that I have four jobs, and they’re all over the very large Houston metropolitan area.  Happily, one day during my parents’ visit, I had a five hour gap between jobs C and D.  I met the family in town for lunch, and then we poked around on my brother-in-law’s cell phone to see what we would do with the rest of my little pocket of time.  Long story short, we found a beach really close to my late-afternoon job and made a bee-line for it.

Our Birthday Boy

Our Birthday Boy

Sylvan Beach Park is a lovely, quiet little beach on Galveston Bay (on the mainland side) in La Porte, TX.  While we were there, the beach was clean, the sand was soft, and the facilities were remarkable.  There was plenty of parking, more than one well-maintained public restroom, a playground, a boat ramp, a rinse-off shower, and a (crazy-expensive, I’m sorry to report) recently renovated fishing pier.  We didn’t pay to go on the pier, but we had a great walk on the beach, and the tide was low enough to make shelling possible.  We found some really nice shells, including some lovely, undamaged barnacles.  I don’t think I have ever found nicer barnacles in my shelling experience to date, and the little niece and nephew were pretty excited.

The very expensive pier

Recently Renovated Fishing Pier

A Walk at the Beach

An Afternoon Walk

Beach Treasures from Sylvan Beach

Beach Treasures from Sylvan Beach

While on our walk, we noticed signs announcing that the beach park was also a wireless hotspot.  I couldn’t help but wonder out-loud, “who would come to such a lovely beach and use the internet?”  Well… apparently the answer is “me,” because a week or so later, I was stuck on the far-east side of town, and I really needed to turn in some paperwork to one of my jobs on the west side, and I was faced with the following choice: either I could show up at work in Pasadena three hours early and use the internet in the computer lab (functional, but not very atmospheric), or I could go to the beach.  I had my scanner in the back seat of my car, so I opted for going to the beach.

What?

Say WHAT?

It was a drizzly sort of day, but when I arrived at Sylvan beach, there were four other cars parked right at the entrance to the beach, where the view of the ocean is best, and in all four cars were people with laptops propped up against the steering wheel and/or tablets in hand.  Car windows were rolled down, radios were playing, and everyone was doing their internet business beach-style.  Who knew that sort of behavior was trending?  Anyhow, I got my internet stuff done and went for a walk on the beach between drizzles (it was high tide, so I didn’t find any good shells that time, but the walk was still lovely).  Before I headed to work, I rinsed off my shiny black work shoes in the rinse-off showers, and I arrived at work sand-free, glad for both the opportunity to submit some paperwork in style and to enjoy the little bit of free time in my afternoon.

Sylvan Beach Park on Galveston Bay

Sylvan Beach Park on Galveston Bay

Next time you happen to find yourself anywhere near La Porte, I highly recommend Sylvan Beach Park!  Whether you want to shell on the beach, swim, or check your e-mail, it is a lovely place to be.

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Hermit Crab: A Different Kind of Beachcomber!

Posted by Jody on February 4, 2014

Whether you’ve been tidepooling, beachcombing or have simply enjoyed a leisurely stroll on the sand, you have probably come upon a hermit crab or two! Hermit crabs are abundant in tidepools and along the seashore. They can be found living in abandoned marine snail (gastropod) shells and, less commonly, in other hollow objects (e.g., coral, rock or wood).

Look closely! Do you see the legs of the hermit crabs scooting around in this LaJolla tidepool?

Hermit Crabs in a La Jolla Tide Pool

Hermit Crabs in a La Jolla Tide Pool

Cool, huh?

Animal Planet states, “Unlike true crabs, hermit crabs have soft, vulnerable abdomens. For protection from predators, many hermit crabs seek out abandoned shells, usually snail shells. When a hermit crab finds one of the proper size, it pulls itself inside, leaving several legs and its head outside the shell. (A hermit crab has five pairs of legs, but not all of them are fully developed.) A hermit crab carries the shell wherever it goes. When it outgrows its shell, it switches to a larger one. Most adult hermit crabs are from 1/2 inch (13 mm) to 4 3/4 inches (121 mm) long. Living on the seashore, in tidepools, and on the sea bottom in deeper water, hermit crabs scavenge their food.”

Liam's find is a hermit crab's home!

Liam’s find is a hermit crab’s home!

According to a Marine Parks Western Australia webpage, the biggest threat to hermit crabs is people!

1) While beach goers are often searching for the most beautiful seashells to carry home, they might also accidentally collect the little shore critters who have carefully selected the same shells as their beachfront condos! One hermit crab’s home, in turn, unintentionally becomes a beachcomber’s “beach treasure.”  Hermit crabs are amazingly good at hiding inside their shells to protect themselves from discovery. Before we put those seashells in our brightly colored plastic pails, we really should inspect each shell very carefully for signs of a resident hermit crab.  When our 5 year old grandson, Liam, found an absolutely gorgeous moon snail shell on a beach near Galveston Island, TX, we didn’t see a little hermit crab inside. Then we did. Then we didn’t!! Hermit crabs are very clever and quite skillful at stealing themselves away in their homes.

2) It’s no surprise that the prized larger seashells are favored by shell collectors. This sometimes leaves slim pickings for growing, house hunting hermit crabs. *This is one very practical reason that beaches sometimes have collection limits for unoccupied seashells of 1 gallon, 5 gallons, etc. per person.*

3) Other hermit crabs are taken home deliberately to become pets. *It’s important to remember that live collection of  shore life is prohibited on many beaches!* Marine Parks WA reminds us: “Hermit crabs make popular pets, but you should never ever take one from the wild. They should remain in its natural habitat to form an important part of the marine food chain and, if removed, are likely to die within days in any case.”

Alaskan Hermit Crab (Photo: Jan Haaga, PD-USGov-NOAA)

Related beachcombing posts: Tidepool Etiquette 101

Beachcombing? Shelling Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Beachcombers Beware ~ Regulation Variation at National Seashores

Happy beachcombing to you and to our little ten-legged seashore friends!

~~~

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Tide Pools | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Seashell Crafting for All Ages!

Posted by Jody on December 4, 2013

Jody:

An oldie but a goodie! :-)

Originally posted on Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches:

Crafting with seashells is great fun any time of the year, but during the hectic holidays, setting aside time for making seashell Christmas ornaments with the kids is even better!

Seashell crafting has unlimited possibilities.  When you take out seashells from your last vacation, you bring back those special family memories of times together at the seashore.  By crafting seashell Christmas ornaments, you’ll be making fun new memories to go along with the old, and they are sure to last a lifetime, too!

Seashell Crafting Party

You’ll need those very special seashells, glue (A glue gun works well but requires close adult supervision), old buttons (possibly themed buttons), ribbons, bows, scrap fabric and “this and that” from your crafty drawer.  We picked up some little straw doll hats and googly eyes especially for this seashell crafting party.  All of these things are available at your local craft store, super center, or…

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Posted in Beach Treasure and Seashell Crafts, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Today’s Special: Turkey Wings!

Posted by Jody on November 28, 2013

Jody:

Very happy Thanksgiving wishes to all!

Originally posted on Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches:

Turkey Wings are on the menu today!  These particular turkey wings are awesome good because they are eye-catching treats from the seashore.  We collected our main course on the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida.

Turkey wings are members of the Ark Shell Family, a family of over 140 species of bivalved mollusks found in temperate and tropical seas. “Bivalves (Bivalvia) form the second largest class of mollusks and include clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and shipworms. All bivalves have a shell made up of two valves. A flexible tissue connects the valves, and toothlike hinges keep them aligned. When the animals are feeding or breathing, the valves separate slightly.” (World Book Online.com*)

Blue Plate Special! Turkey Wings (©Jody Diehl)

These turkey wings won’t be coming over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house, though! In North America, they can be found in the ocean waters from North Carolina to Bermuda. …

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The International Beach Traveler: Trash v Treasure – Battle Japan

Posted by alainaflute on November 4, 2013

I was very fortunate to be able to visit my sister for a couple of summer weeks when she was living in Japan. Although she had work and studying to do most days, she took some time to take me sightseeing in the Kanto region (which includes both Gunma, the prefecture in which she lived, and Tokyo, the capital of Japan). One of the highlights was our visit to Kamakura. This city was once the capital of Japan and is well known for being the home of one of Japan’s National Treasures, the Kōtoku-in Temple Daibutsu, or giant Buddha bronze statue.  It also has beaches within easy walking distance from the train station and temples (my sister and I did most of our non-train travel on foot).

Yuigahama Beach and Zaimokuza Beach are on the same small stretch of coast on the Sagami Bay. The two are separated only by a river outlet that I don’t remember crossing.

View of the bay from Meigetsuin Temple (Photo by E.G.D)

View of the bay from Meigetsuin Temple (Photo by E.G.D)

The first Japanese beach sighting for me was from the Meigetsuin Temple, famous for its lovely hydrangeas.

Tully's on the Beach

Tully’s on the Beach

After touring the Starbucks, temples, and shops selling Hello Kitty cell phone dangles, we made our way down to the beach with some plums we brought at a produce stand (this begins a story for another day), enjoyed some Tully’s coffee from the shop located right on the sandy beach, and dipped our toes into the water. On the wet sand we found some shells, shell fragments, and small pieces of ocean-tumbled china. These were all fun little treasures that we thought would be worth bringing home.

While we were combing the beach, a very nice middle aged Japanese couple approached us to chat (they had a son studying in America). While we were conversing, the wife asked to see what we had picked up off of the beach. I opened my hand to show her, and she started picking through, throwing back the broken ones and my other bits of who-knows-what. My goodness, I had to think she didn’t think I knew what was worth keeping and what wasn’t. I was trying to subtly keep my eyes on where she was chucking things so I could try and pick them up again later.

That Nice Couple (Photo by either E.G.D. or Alaina Diehl)

That Nice Couple (Photo by either E.G.D. or Alaina Diehl)

Don’t worry- shell pieces aren’t too difficult to find on this beach. It wouldn’t take too long to pick up enough different shapes and colors to make a nice display of some sort.

The nice lady on the beach wasn’t the only person to think that what we found on the beach wasn’t treasure-worthy. My sister’s okaa-san (Japanese mom) didn’t understand why we would pick up broken bits and pieces off of the beach, either!  Anyway, in spite of the adversity, we did get away with some nice shells, bits, and bobs.

Some of Alaina's Kamakura Treasures

Some of Alaina’s Kamakura Treasures

Editor’s Note by E.G.D. : Okaa-san, once we explained that our shell finds were intended for decorative purposes, used the shells we gave her to decorate a bathroom counter, and to my knowledge, they’re still there today.

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Beaches of Asia, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Beachcombing Regulations Abound. Know Before You Go!

Posted by Jody on October 17, 2013

Do you know what (if any) seashells and critters you are allowed to bring home from the shore? Times are changing! Many municipalities now have rules and shelling regulations regarding what beachcombers are allowed to collect. Every now and then these ordinances are passed with the intention of preserving the delicate coastal ecosystem. In some places a violation of existing shelling regulations can result in a stiff fine and even jail time!

Can you bring me home?

Is there a resident hermit crab inside? Maybe!

Tybee Island, Georgia, passed a law in 2011 against the collection of living sea creatures. Animals protected by the new beachcombing law include live sea stars (aka: star fish), sand dollars, and hermit crabs. It’s important to know that hermit crabs can be pretty tricky critters! You may have to inspect a seashell more than once to be absolutely certain it’s empty.

According to the 2011 Tybee Island shelling regulation: beachcombers’ take home treasures can still include empty shells and nonliving animals.

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar

If you are lucky enough to find a sand dollar, here’s a simple way to tell if it is still living. Examine it to see if it’s tiny, fuzz-like hairs (cilia) are moving. You may turn the sand dollar over and touch it very gently with your finger to check. If it is still alive you’ll surely want to gently place it (bottom side down) back in calmer water, on the sand. Seriously, hurling live sea creatures back into the ocean is never a good idea!

Live Sand Dollar (Reverse Side)

Live Sand Dollar (Reverse Side)

On Sanibel Island, Florida (widely recognized as the best shelling beach in the United States) it has been illegal to collect live specimens since January 1, 1995. According to The City of Sanibel website, MySanibel.com: “All Sanibel beaches and nearshore waters to one-half mile from shore are protected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Rule 46-26.” This shelling regulation established a complete ban on the collection of live shells. The remainder of Lee County, Florida followed suit on March 1, 2002. Sea stars, sand dollars, and sea urchins are also protected.

The Town of Hilton Head, South Carolina shelling regulation prohibits “Removal, harming, or harassment of any live beach fauna (sea turtles, sand dollars, conchs, starfish, etc.)”

Beachcombing on the Bolivar Peninsula of the Texas Gulf Coast

Beachcombing on the Bolivar Peninsula of the Texas Gulf Coast

Oftentimes, an official permit is mandatory for live collecting. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission declares: “A Florida recreational saltwater fishing license (resident or non-resident, whichever is applicable) is required in order to harvest a sea shell containing a living organism, even when harvesting from shore.” 

Before heading to the beach for a fun-filled day of treasure hunting, beachcombers would be wise to check for the most up-to-date local beachcombing regulations. Wildlife refuges, conservancies, national and state parks, counties, cities, and states could all have differing rules for the types of seashells and sea life that may be removed from the beach! Occasionally they conflict. And in some instances, all shelling and collecting is prohibited. We always play it safe and go with the strictest of the rules and regs. That’s one way to keep those hard earned vacation dollars in our pockets!

~~~ It’s that important to know before you go! ~~~

We’d really like to hear about the shelling regulations on your favorite beach. Please feel free to share!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

“The Sanibel Shell Guide”

Posted by Jody on September 20, 2013

Many years ago, on our fourth trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, Greg and I stayed in a wonderful beachside condo.  The owners of the unit had quite thoughtfully placed a copy of The Sanibel Shell Guide on the living room coffee table.  After thumbing through the first few pages, we were hooked!

The Sanibel Shell Guide is written in easy-breezy style, and it’s geared towards the amateur beach treasure seeker. This little gem is loaded with information that we hobbyists can actually understand and use.  The author, Margaret H. Greenberg, tells us from the start:

“This book was written by an amateur sheller for other amateur shellers who would like to know something about the specimens they find on Sanibel and Captiva.”

In short: It’s a handy little (117 page) shell guide, written by a beachcomber, about beachcombing, for fellow beachcombers. You can’t get any better than that!  “Over 100 shells (and other specimens ) have been identified with the aid of photographs, sketches, and descriptions free of Latin words and technical jargon.”

Sanibel Treasures & “The Sanibel Shell Guide” (Photo by Jody Diehl)

The Sanibel Shell Guide was originally published in 1982, so some of the information is outdated.  You’ll be paying for beach parking these days, and live specimen collecting is now strictly taboo, with good reason. In the chapter “Equipment and Attire,” the author explains: “A sunscreen  (as opposed to tanning lotions and oils) is also recommended.” Can you even buy tanning oil anymore? ;-) Nevertheless, this chapter has some very practical tips for a safe, comfortable, productive day of beach treasure hunting on Sanibel Island and Captiva (or anywhere else for that matter).

There are tips for where and when to shell on the islands, photos and descriptions to help you identify your beach treasures, and even some simple shell crafting ideas towards the back of the book.

When I was hunting for my copy, The Sanibel Shell Guide was already out of print.  I found a used copy, in excellent condition, on my favorite used book site: AbeBooks.com.  Even with shipping and handling, it was less than the original cover price of $5.95.

Shells identified using The Sanibel Shell Guide: (Photo, top to bottom) Fighting Conch, Cat’s Eye (I’ve also seen this seashell identified as a Shark Eye), Banded Tulip, Lightning Whelk.

Do you have a favorite seashell guide? Is it specific to your favorite beach? Inquiring minds want to know!

Happy beach treasure hunting!

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Beaches of North America, Gulf of Mexico Beaches, Seashells | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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