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Shell Collecting Adventures

Collecting shells on Tybee Island is a fun pastime for people of all ages. Finding a unique piece or a complete intact shell can be thrilling! With so many types, colors and sizes you can collect shells your whole life and never have every type. You can collect them in jars, use them for décor or even use them for beach-related crafts. But before you can display them you have to find them. There are many tricks to finding the “perfect” shell so we have gathered a few of the best and created a list of helpful tips to start you on your shell-collecting adventure. Enjoy the search! And just remember, if you find something with its inhabitant still residing in it, leave it alone.

Shell Finding Tips:

  • Observe a tide chart for the day. The best time to search is an hour before and after a low tide. During a full moon or new moon time period the tides are the most extreme and it makes shelling even better.
  • Right after an ocean storm many shells are washed up on shore. If you’re able to go safely onto the beach then this is the perfect time.
  • Everyone loves a sand dollar, but unless they are white or light gray, they are probably alive. The brown ones with hair-like spines are alive and should never be taken.
  • Many specimens do look alike so bring a field book to help you identify your finds.
  • Learn about the variety of shells that you can find in the area that you are visiting so you will know what to look for during your search.

Want to learn more about the creatures and waters surrounding Tybee Island? Then check out Tybee Beach Ecology Tours or Tybee Island Marine Science Center.

Did you know?

  • After a few shelling trips, beachcombers may notice that not every shell, despite being the same species, looks remotely the same. Variations can occur in size, color, and overall structure, and there are a number of reasons for these discrepancies. The age and original environment can affect the color of a shell. Shells that were submerged in ocean bottoms with tar will often turn a grayish color, or have sections that are much darker and almost black. Older shells tend to turn white as they age, with ancient shells (or shells that are 1,000 years old or more) generally being a stark white all the way through.
  • In Georgia, as per the beachcombing law, it is illegal to collect any living specimens, such as hermit crabs, sand dollars, and starfish just to name a few. You may still collect treasures that are empty shells or non-living animals. Double-check your finds to make sure there are no living creatures in that shell you picked up. If you see a living animal make sure to put it back gently into the ocean or where it was found. So remember to only collect shells that are uninhabited and non-living creatures. 

Now that you have started your collection, what can you do with your new-found treasures?  Make unique and fun crafts and mementos of your trip of course. Visit our Beachy Crafts Pinterest board for some fun ideas! Here are a few to get your creativity flowing.

Come visit us soon! Follow this link to browse through our amazing collection of vacation homes!