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Posts Tagged ‘Southern California seashells’

Colors of Sunset: Gould’s Wedge Seashells

Posted by Jody on August 19, 2013

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!

Redondo Beach ~ View From the Esplanade

Redondo Beach ~ View From the Esplanade

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.

Beach Treasures from the Sands of Redondo Beach, Southern California

Beach Treasures from the Sands of Redondo Beach, Southern California

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!”


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Where is the best beachcombing beach in Southern California?

Posted by Jody on April 12, 2012

Lots of people want to know where the best beachcombing beach is in Southern California. The answer may very well depend on exactly what you’re looking for! Many beaches in SoCal feature little, colorful wedge clam seashells (California’s cousin to the East Coast’s Coquina Shells).  On past visits, the tides at both Imperial Beach and  Redondo Beach have offered up generous helpings of the beautiful blues, purples, yellows and oranges of a Southern California sunset for our beachcombing pleasure!  We’ve brought all of these gorgeous colors home in the form of Gould’s Wedge Shells (one of my personal favorites)!

Silver Strand State Beach, looking toward Coronado, CA

From our experience though, the best beachcombing beach in the area, as far as variety goes, is Silver Strand State Beach, a “natural” beach located  near San Diego.  Silver Strand State Beach offers beaches on both the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean.  If you are looking for beach treasures, then the ocean side strand is your destination of choice!

Sand Dollar - Silver Strand State Beach

On our last visit to Silver Strand State Beach, Greg and I found sand dollars, limpets and keyhole limpets, pretty pink barnacles, large (soap dish size) Common Washington Clams, California Mussels, oysters and a nice variety of other bivalves (e.g., clams and wedge shells).

Beach Treasures from Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand State Beach is “located 4.5 miles south of the city of Coronado on Highway 75. The park is located on the sand-spit that forms the outer edge of San Diego Bay between Coronado and Imperial Beach. The park has 2 ½ miles of ocean beach and ½ mile on the bay. The entrance to the park is from Highway 75, which serves as a divider between the ocean side of the park and the bay side.”

We’d love to hear your choice for the best beachcombing beach in Southern California!

Happy Beachcombing!

Related links:

California State Parks/Silver Strand SB

Seaweed-Trash or Treasure? (Natural Beaches)

Cha ching! Sand Dollars, Fun to Find.

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wavy Turban: The Seashell, Not the Fashion Statement

Posted by Jody on March 1, 2012

Portrait of María Teresa Tyszkiewicz (Poniatowski), circa 1797 (PD-1923, Kazimier Lachnov/Wikimedia Commons)

The wavy turban (Lithopoma undosum) is not the newest fashion statement.  It’s a very sturdy seashell find! Shaped like a top (remember those?), this shell is covered with thick, brown periostracum, making it appear quite hairy.

Wavy Turban (Photo by Dan Richards, CINMS, PD-USGov-NOAA)

Growing up to 4 ½” in diameter, this slow moving marine snail’s habitat ranges from Point Conception, California, throughout the Channel Islands (located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California) to central Baja California in Mexico. Living in rocky areas from the low tide level to 70′ deep, this beauty is abundant in the warm coastal waters of Southern California.

We found our beautiful  wavy turban beach treasures on the shores of Santa Catalina Island, one of California’s eight Channel Islands. ~Catalina is only a one hour boat ride from Long Beach.

Wavy Turbans

So, if you’re looking for a Wavy Turban, you don’t need to travel all the way to Paris.  Just head to the beach!

Happy beachcombing!

Related Catalina Island posts: Wavy Turbans, Tile & Lots of Fun!

Pebbly Beach: Beachcombing for Little Pieces of the Past


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Seashells, Southern California Beaches | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Wavy Turbans, Tile & Lots of Fun! Santa Catalina Island, California

Posted by Jody on August 25, 2011

I’ve never been to Catalina Island, California in the summer. Every time I’ve visited this enchanting Southern Channel Island has been during the winter; December and January to be specific. This means only that I can’t personally tell you about the summer weekend crowds at any of the beaches. I do know that in the sleepier winter months the City of Avalon is beautifully decorated for the holidays. I can also tell you that getting to Catalina Island is half the fun, no matter what time of year.

Avalon in the Summer, Santa Catalina Island, California (Photo by Tom Gally, from Wikimedia Commons)

Santa Catalina Island (aka: Catalina), is located 22 miles off the coast of California, SSW of Los Angeles. The best way to get to Catalina Island, unless you have a private boat, is via commercial high-speed vessels which leave from several different terminals on the mainland. You can catch a commercial boat to either the City of Avalon, or the more remote unincorporated town of Two Harbors, from Long Beach, Newport Beach, San Pedro, Marina Del Rey, or Dana Point. The trip will only take 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on your departure and arrival plans.

Beachcombing on Pebbly Beach

Be on the lookout for frolicking dolphins and spouting whales along the way! Try not to be disappointed if they don’t show up as the cruise entertainment, though. On our visits to Catalina Island we’ve spotted many dolphins and gray whales from land, near the Green Pleasure Pier and amongst the boats anchored in Avalon Bay. And remember, there’s always the return trip!

Beachcombing Treasures, Avalon (Wavy Turbans, Pottery and Tile) -Photo by Jody Diehl-

Beach Treasures from Catalina Island (Wavy Turbans, Pottery & Tile) ©Jody Diehl

Catalina Island has something for everyone including scuba, kayaking, snorkeling,  swimming, sun bathing and beachcombing. It’s fun, easy, and doesn’t cost a cent to simply meander around the charming seaside City of Avalon, taking in the beautiful tile work for which Santa Catalina Island is known.

Note: The Catalina Clay Products plant (1927-1937) stood on Pebbly Beach. Notice the bright blue, orange (stamped “NA”), and yellow pottery bits and pieces of tile, along with wavy turban seashells, in this photo of our collected island beach treasures.

I highly recommend a leisurely walk up Pebbly Beach Road. The sounds of the waves lapping at the rocks and tumbling the pebbles, seashells & what-nots are absolutely indescribable. Stop, listen and enjoy!

Santa Catalina Island has a rich history. Most notably for baseball fans: The Chicago Cubs held Spring Training in Avalon (but not on the beach) from 1921-1941 & 1946-1951, thanks to owner William Wrigley Jr. “Let’s Play Two!”

Related Catalina Island posts:

Pebbly Beach: Beachcombing for Little Pieces of the Past

Wavy Turban: The Seashell, Not the Fashion Statement


Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Sand and Shoreline, Seashells, Southern California Beaches, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

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