Archive for the 'shell collecting' Category

Benefits of Winter Beachcombing

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
Spirula shells. Photo credit: Fritz Geller-Grimm

Spirula shells. Photo credit: Fritz Geller-Grimm

This is Passport to Texas

Before you sell seashells by the seashore, you first have to find them. Surprisingly, summer beachcombing may not yield the results you desire.

I feel the best time to go shelling is in the wintertime.

Paul Hammerschmidt is a lifelong shell collector and former coastal fisheries biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says winter storms churn up the Gulf bottom, sending marine critters and their calciferous containments onto the beach. To improve your chances of finding a variety of intact shells, Hammerschmidt says stay clear of crowded beaches.

If you get a chance to go to some more isolated beaches, like down on Padres island, or something like that, where the population of humans is not quite so thick, you’ll have a much better chance of finding some really unusual shells.

Such as a pretty little shell called baby ears—which looks like…well…baby ears. Or, there’s another special shell worth searching for called spirula.

And it’s a coiled, snail-like shell. But it doesn’t belong to a snail—it belongs to a little squid. And it’s inside the squid, and when the squid dies, that little thing has a lot of chambers in it with gas, and it floats and washes up on the beach. Those are very pretty, bright white, and they’re very fragile, so you have to be careful with them.

This time of year, before it warms up, is a terrific time to go beach-combing.

That’s our show for today…remember: Life’s Better Outside.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Shell Collecting Tips

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Shells one might find on the Texas coast.

Shells one might find on the Texas coast.

This is Passport to Texas

Nobody thinks twice about collecting shells from the beach. But I started to wonder if it’s really okay since beaches are public land.

It’s okay to collect shells. The ones that are broken and come apart, they create the sand that’s out there, but there is no law against it [collecting].

Paul Hammerschmidt is a lifelong shell collector, and former coastal fisheries biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says collect responsibly to avoid creating problems for the environment or marine animals.

I highly recommend that you only take shells that are from dead animals—not live animals.

How can you determine if something is still alive? In the case of the popular sand dollar, small spines cover the shells of living animals…so look for smooth, spineless shells. If, like me, you’ve never found a sand dollar on the beach—there’s good reason for it.

I think it’s because everybody wants to get a sand dollar. And, too, they’re another very fragile shell. And when the waves are strong, they’ll get broken up, and you’ll just see fragments of them. A lot of times, the best time to find a sand dollar, is after a storm—and then very early in the morning—before anybody else gets out on the beach.

When and where to go shelling on tomorrow’s show.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.