A while back, Alaina and I visited family in Gardena, California. Of course, when we had some free time, we made a beeline for the beach! Redondo Beach is situated on the Santa Monica Bay, about 7 miles south of LAX. It was practically a straight shot from our hotel, so off we went to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf of the beautiful Southern California coast.
The City of Redondo Beach has a marvelous beachfront. Redondo County Beach has a friendly neighborhood feel to it that is quite refreshing. Joggers, friends walking and chatting, and parents pushing smiling babies in strollers were all out enjoying The Esplanade, which overlooks the beautiful, wide sandy beach and the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean beyond. Down below, people had the same happy demeanor on The Strand, the paved path along the sand. Everyone seemed quite cheerful. Maybe that’s because the beach was surprisingly uncrowded and parking was very easy to find. Perhaps it was the Southern California sunshine or gorgeous views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south. Or maybe, like us, it was simply because they were at the beach!
Beachcombing was our plan, and we were very pleased with our morning of shelling. This is what we found: Gould’s Wedge Shells (According to The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Shells: Donax gouldii, aka: Bean Clams)! But if I were to name these seashells I would call them “Sunset Shells”. Gould’s Wedge Shells are the all the colors of a beautiful Southern California sunset: gorgeous pinks, and blues, and purples, and oranges, and yellows. No doubt there were also California Donax, or Wedge Clams, in our mix. The California Donax seashells lack the colored rays and bands and are a little more elongated than the Gould’s Wedge Shell. And, just like sunsets, no two are the same.
Gould’s Wedges are little (5/8 – 7/8″) bivalves that are found in sand on surf-washed beaches from Monterey, California to Mexico’s southern Baja California peninsula. They live in the intertidal zone, where the sand stays wet, submerged just about an inch or so below the surface. Look for these small, colorful beauties as the waves pull back into the sea and the clams scramble to dig deeper into the sand.
Now that’s “One Shell of a Find!”