Seashells Make Me Smile

It's an understatement to say that seashells make me smile.  Seashells are nature's artwork, geometrically perfect and beautifully colored. Others collect art; I collect seashells.  My heart sings when I find them while walking on the beach or when I'm snorkeling. I don't take them if someone is living in them, but if they are empty, they are mine!

Scientists don't really know how many different kinds of seashells exist even though tens of thousands of mollusks have been discovered and documented.  Some seashells are as small as a grain of rice.   Others  are as big as a kitchen sink!  I have found both, the smallest hidden between grains of sand, and the largest, a giant clam shell, resting on the ocean floor in Fiji. Even half of this shell was so large and heavy, I couldn't bring it to the surface without the help of a friend, a rope, and a sailboat. Sadly, I couldn't bring it home.  By the way, giant clams (Tridacna gigas), if left alone, can grow up to 3 feet wide.

Here are a few interesting tidbits about seashells:

  • Seashells are formed by the animal which builds and expands this mobile home over time. Some seashells are created by the secretions of calcium carbonate and proteins from the animal's mantle, which envelopes the shell.
  • Seashells can be univalve, meaning they are one solid shell such as a conch shell, or bivalve with two halves, such as the giant clam shell.
  • One of the oldest seashell collections was found in the ruins of Pompeii and contained shells from distant shores.
  • Most shelled sea creatures move around by using their 'feet' to cover a lot of ground, and some even tunnel below the sand as they forage for food.
  • Giant clams, which are very heavy, can hunker down in one spot in the sand or anchor themselves on corals when they are small, staying put for a lifetime.
  • Historically, seashells were used as currency, for jewelry, tools for carving and scraping, to bail canoes, as bowls and even as musical instruments.

Seashells are collected and sold worldwide, but did you know that most of those perfect shiny seashells you find in shops are gathered alive and removed from their shells? The seashell trade distributes shells from over 5000 species and some of these species are being depleted. Finding an empty seashell on a beach is a thrill and there are no strings attached. Some of these found treasures remind me exactly where I was when I found them, whether snorkeling or simply strolling on a remote stretch of beach. What gifts the sea gives us!

For more information about seashells, check out Wikipedia here or check out this identification chart to see more beautiful shells.  Or, just for fun, take a look at beach sand magnified 300 times! Beautiful!

Thanks for reading my blog!