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Jekyll Island’s Gems

Posted by Jody on October 15, 2017

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Knobbed Whelks

Just a couple of weeks ago, soon after Tropical Storm Irma’s 6-foot storm surge wreaked havoc on Jekyll Island, I visited this “Golden Isle” for a much anticipated girl trip. A dear life-long friend and I met in the Jacksonville (JAX) airport, rented a car, and drove the easy-peasy route north to Georgia’s little island paradise. The storm had done quite a bit of damage to many of the beach crossovers and it had devastated the protective dunes, but the state owned barrier island was in the process of returning to normal and was once again open for business.

Jekyll Island after Tropical Storm Irma ©Jody Diehl

Jekyll Island after Tropical Storm Irma

Over the long weekend, when the tide was low enough to barefoot it on the sandy seashore, we spent a great deal of time walking and catching up on the spectacular beaches of Jekyll Island (Mary’s Fitbit kept track and recorded our steps at 30+ miles!). Sand dollars were easily spotted dotting the shoreline but the grand prize of beachcombing on this fabulous weekend was hands down the Knobbed Whelk, Georgia’s Official State Seashell.  They had been flung up into the rip-rap in abundance by Irma.

Beach treasures found on Jekyll Island after Tropical Storm Irma ©Jody Diehl

Beach Treasures found on Jekyll Island after Tropical Storm Irma

Our first sighting of these Jekyll Island gems happened when we spotted a family -looking very pleased indeed – coming towards us with armloads of something we couldn’t quite figure out. We just knew we had to ask! They were finding perfect Knobbed Whelk specimens hand over fist in the boulders piled along the dunes. They even happily shared some of their bounty with us! Afterwards, being on high alert to spot some of our own one-of-a-kind beach treasures, we began to see Knobbed Whelks partially buried in the sand just at the rolling surf line.

Knobbed Whelk ©Jody Diehl

Knobbed Whelk found on Jekyll Island, Georgia

The Knobbed Whelk, as Jekyll Island’s “Your Official Guide” (Fall/Winter 2017) states, “… is the state shell of both Georgia and New Jersey. These big snails are a fairly common animal found along the intertidal beaches and marshes of Jekyll Island.” It goes on to say, “Feel free to take these shells as a souvenir, but only if they’re uninhabited.” The largest one we snagged was over 5 1/2 inches in length but they can grow up to 9 inches long. Also known to more scientific minds as “Busycon Carica,” they range from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Cape Canaveral, Florida. Our finds were everywhere on the color scale from light grey-brown (some being streaked with darker browns) to a very dark grey. The low knobs on the shells’ shoulders are a bit of a giveaway but an important fact in identifying a Knobbed Whelk is that the opening of the Knobbed Whelk’s shell is on the right. The Lightning Whelk, on the other hand, is a south paw!

~~~~~~~~~

Any ideas on where we should go for our next girls only weekend?

                                 We’d love to hear from you!                       

If you’d like to learn more about the Knobbed Whelk, I suggest this helpful site: Chesapeake Bay Program.

 

 

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5 Responses to “Jekyll Island’s Gems”

  1. Our beaches are just a Hop Skip and a Jump north of jeckyll island. Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and a must see at Hunting Island, outside of Beaufort, SC. Hurricanes will uncover lots of beach treasure, as do local storms and low tides. And the fall is a great time to explore..

  2. Those shells are in pristine condition. Great finds:)

  3. Ruth said

    what fantastic finds!

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