See shells or seashells

DSC00245When we visit the beach, many of us like to look for seashells or sea glass.  Most of us have an almost childish need to collect the seashells or the sea glass.  Whatseaglass is the harm in taking just one shell or piece of glass?  I have heard the justification for sea glass over sea shells because the glass is man made/sea burnished, but it was never alive.

According to January 17, 2014 Smithsonian post, by Rachel Newer., “When those whimsical walkers pocket the nautical treasures they find on the beach, however, there can be unintended ensea shellsvironmental repercussions. Shells provide a diverse swath of environmental functions: they help to stabilize beaches and anchor seagrass; they provide homes for creatures such as hermit crabs and hiding places for small fish; they are used by shorebirds to build nests; and when they break down, they provide nutrients for the organisms living in the sand or for those that build their own shells.”



Some places, like National Parks or Beaches, do not permit anyone to take any animal, plant, rock, shell.  “Take nothing but pictures and memories; leave nothing but footprints.” When I was a VIP (Volunteer in Park) at Cabrillo National Monument, Monday mornings were my day to be at the Tidepool Education Table where we provided TPERP–Tidepool Protection, Education, and Restoration Program.  We averaged over 100 people a day and it could get to over 500 people on a weekend.  If each person or even each family, took only one souvenir home we would have run of souvenirs (shells, animals, rocks, plants, etc) in short order.  My least favorite people were the ones who got hostile when being reminded that no one was allowed to take anything from a National Park–one family smashed the shells on the ground of the parking lot.  I suspect their attitude was “If I can’t have it, then nobody else can have it. either.”

So will you see shells or will you collect sea shells” Join in the conversation and share what your favorite sea shells are.  “She sell seashells by the seashore.” But she really shouldn’t sell the shells–some hermit crab may need it for it’s home.





2 thoughts on “See shells or seashells”

  1. I would hate to have to make the argument by juggling numbers at someone who is carry shells home. That way lies madness. To do it right, you’d have to have all sorts of important numbers: size of beach, shells per sq m, replenishment rate, breakdown rate, number of visitors, … There’s too much uncertainty in most of them, so everyone can make a plausible case for or against taking a shell. I suspect that rules like that are in place largely to discourage professional beachcomers who might gather up shells by the truckload otherwise. There’s no way to win a fight with the pros if you let the Jones family take one or two shells. So, the rule is: No Shells, No argument. We visit a public park to enjoy it in place, not to take it home.


  2. I have collected shells over the years–but there are places where it is now allowed. National Parks and marine sanctuaries are some of those places. San Diego has over 70 miles of beaches. There are a number of places where it is legal to pick up shells. It is not a practice I recommend, but it is legal. I have really developed a fondness for sea glass, but between so many people going to the beach and the emphasis on recycling, sea glass is also becoming a vanishing entity. Love your statement that we visit a public park to enjoy it in place, not to take it home. Thanks for the comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s