Tag Archives: collecting shells

seashells

Collecting Shells in the Heat of a Florida Summer

It’s summer in Florida and not my favorite time of year. We go out on the boat about once a week, and it’s been high tide at the times we recently traveled the waterways. High tide means fewer beaches and exposed sand out in the river. The normal places to find big living conchs, like the horse conch, are under water at high tide and more difficult to see.

seashells
Tiger lucinia (or dosinia?), Spectral bittersweet clam (or venus clam?), white and black jingle shells.

The shells in my photo above confuse me. Many shells look A LOT ALIKE… So sometimes I am guessing as to the exact name.  The flat white shell with concentric rings is probably a Dosinia, but the Tiger lucinia is almost identical looking – except that my reference book says that the underside can be pink and yellow.  The shell I found is white underneath – it’s the one with the crack in the shell.

The jingle shells are pretty easy to recognize.  Their thin shells remind me of the mineral mica.

At high tide, island beaches become scarce and small, but there are still plenty of hermit crabs scurrying around in their beautiful crown shells, pear shells and shark’s eyes in the shallow water offshore.
My little video here is of a big Tulip shell inhabited by a hermit crab. I don’t know which type of tulip it is because the shell is black and covered with barnacles. This is only one of the many hermit crabs I found near the shore.

This is a screenshot of the temperature where I live at 7:14 in the evening… as you can see it FEELS LIKE 100!  So at noon, you can just imagine the oppressive heat… it’s why we don’t go out on the boat all that much these days.   The heat and humidity here in Florida is stupid.  And there is little relief when evening arrives.

florida heat index
7:14 at night and it feels like 100 degrees!

Being right on the water means a sea breeze can cool things off, and my favorite time to visit the beach is later in the day. I don’t live on the beach, but I live close enough to visit any time.
However, I do look forward to Fall, when it will be less crowded and less humid on and near the water.

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sharks eye

Does Collecting Seashells Really Harm Beaches?

Don’t you feel guilty about collecting seashells? Apparently some people think you should.

Atlantic Giant cockle shells

When I found this article entitled, “Hey Tourists: Leave Those Shells on The Beach Would Ya?” at the Care2.com site, I had to read it.  And then I shook my head.
After all, I write about collecting seashells and that post is saying it is not a good idea.  But what is the reasoning behind this?  Well, I read that tourism to beaches has increased so much that the collecting of seashells is in danger of hampering the coastline.  Shells that could be used by hermit crabs as homes, and by sea birds as nesting material (huh?), and in beach stabilization.  Okay, the study was done over a 30 year period on beaches in the Mediterranean, where tourism to the coast has increased three fold.

Sorry folks but I find it incredibly hard to believe that tourists are collecting THAT many seashells and taking them back home.  How much room do you leave in your suitcase for shells when you take a vacation to the shore?  And even if they are significantly hoarding shells, these are most likely empty shells.  What about the living organisms that are dredged up with fishing nets, and selected for food, and sold in shops?  These are the ones doing the most damage, not a simple vacationer.

east coast florida beach shells
Seashells and beach finds along the east coast of Florida

Also the damage done to the coast from building, driving on the sand and polluting the water has to be much greater.  And the study says that this was mainly a way to account for shell loss due to beachcombing, and nothing else.  But it definitely places the most blame on tourists.  In fact it is titled: Vanishing Clams on an Iberian Beach: Local Consequences and Global Implications of Accelerating Loss of Shells to TourismRead the whole study here.

So do we see negative effects from shell collecting?  I haven’t heard of any.  Just a doomsday story about how tourists are silently wrecking the beaches.  What I find incredibly typical is that all the comments after the “Hey Tourists” post have people apologizing for shelling, and promising to never do it again.  Lemmings.
Go ahead and take a few (unoccupied) shells home people… good grief.