Good Morning and so HAPPY you came by for a visit. I love when you visit and really, really love when ya leave me some comment love. (please leave me an email addy so that I can reply to you....I always, always reply when I know how to reach you. I really don't care for the noreply-comment blogger because well....I can't reply back)
See all the pretty seashells and the awesome seastar? My friend Diane Guthrie Davis's treasure she found on one of her beach walks here lately. I look at her photos and just drool sometimes....hehe!! Ya'll know that I do my fair share of shell hunting too so I can't complain but I can DROOL!!!
I wanted to share some tips today about finding and cleaning the treasures Mother Nature tosses up on shore or at least close to shore. Yes, yes....sometimes ya have to wade out in that water to get the big ones. The water won't feel cold for long....I promise. I can make that promise too because I have learned from experience that either (a) you get use to the temp fairly fast or (b) your feet get so numb ya just can't feel the cold. I ummmmm think with this time of year it is probably (b) but HEY....some sacrifice has to be made for the shells. Our beaches aren't the most shell inhabited but we do have them and they are true treasures.
Tip on finding shells: Of course you can walk down the shore and find shells here and there. Make sure you keep an eye out in the water too because sometimes you may get lucky and see one of the bigger ones that just won't roll all the way up onto the sand. Just please PLEASE make sure you check the big shells to make sure you aren't taking something's home. We have land crabs and we also have water crabs that make the big shells homes and we don't want to harm any living creature....now do we? If one is inhabited then just place it back in the water and walk on by with a silent good bye. If you are one of the lucky ones and find a sand dollar, please make sure it's not still alive. It's very easy to tell...they will look fuzzy...not grey or white. If they are fuzzy then place them back in the water with the slight hump facing up. Sand dollars are part of the sea urchin family and are actual living creatures.
If you find a starfish or seastar...same rule applies. When you turn them over their tiny little hair like legs will just be a going. If in doubt do like me....don't take it unless it's all dried out. Respect LIFE in all creatures!! Now once you have roamed the shore for awhile it's time to look for some hidden treasures. Oh yes me matey, there be hidden treasure just a waitin for ye to find her. HEHE...love pirate talk!! You don't need much in the way of tools either....we use a big spoon and one of the little sifters that comes with a kiddo beach bucket set and of course a bucket to carry our booty in. Argg argg arggg!!!! The best place to dig is where the shore has been built up by the dredging being deposited there. What's dredging? It's where the State of Alabama after hurricanes and tropical storms washed away the shore....pulls sand from the bottom of the ocean and puts it up on shore. What lies on the bottom of the ocean out from shore and can get caught up in the dredging pipes? Shells!!!
All it takes to find shells here is simply to start digging and sifting. I have found some whole and beautiful shells doing this. They may not be big shells, remember they have to have been able to fit in those pipes but they make for beautiful memory keepsakes.
You can also sometimes just sit down close to where the tide comes in and out (in the dry sand back aways) and start digging and sifting to find some too. Sifting is the key word here and go slow so that you don't miss one. Ohhhh, and be careful because we have one grumpy inhabitant that makes the sand his home and that really does NOT like to be disturbed and WILL stand his ground. Again, I'm speaking from experience. I didn't think we would be able to get away from this lil guy we definitely disturbed one Sunday afternoon while shell hunting at Ft Morgan. ^_^
Ohhhh....do NOT dig in the dunes. It's bad for the beach environment and will get you into some BIG trouble. Also, once you have finished digging and sifting, please cover what hole you made so that someone that comes walking by later won't step into it and hurt themselves. Ohhh and don't take bags of sand either, that's against the law. I promise once you get home, you will have some sand to use that was inside your shells. Speaking of bags....we always take a few with us so that we can pick up any trash we find on our hunts. The beach is a beautiful place, full of nature and we want to keep it that way.
Tips on cleaning shells: Now I think all of us have our own way to clean our treasures so of course this is just how I do it. After I get home, I take a piece of newspaper and lay it out. Then I take each shell and give it a good shake or two. This is a great way to gather sand. Ya'll know I love to use sand in the little glass vials with my jewelry pieces and this is how I get it. Once I'm sure I have most of the sand out, I place the shells in warm soapy water. Let them sit for about an hour...take them out and rinse. Then I place them in a small rubbermaid container that is filled with part water and water bleach. Let them soak for at least a couple of hours. Take them out and put them back in a soapy bath, rinse and lay out to dry. I do the second soapy bath because I do NOT like how bleach smells. Ewwwww!! If you want to give your shells a natural shine you can polish them with mineral oil. I know some use baby oil but I wouldn't. Yes, yes baby oil smells so good but believe me....after a few years....it's PEEUUU time again. (the baby oil eventually breaks down and loses that sweet smell) If you want them to keep a shiny "wet" look then you can paint them with shellac or even clear nail polish. I like to just keep the ones I find natural.
Now that you have some tips...go on a shell hunt. It's relaxing, fun and gives you some wonderful memories to keep in your heart and a pretty glass bowl to sit on the table.
Until next time..............Hugs,