Myrtle Beach, SC - The Grand Strand - Vacation Travel Guide

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Myrtle Beach Area Features

Shelling in Grand Strand

Here are some tips from William Tilley, a founder of the Grand Strand Shell Club, for hunting and finding shells along the shores of Myrtle Beach.

  • The more deserted the beach, the better the chance of finding shells; there’s less competition. Barrier islands, generally accessible only by water, are the best. Huntington Beach State Park, about 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach, is another good bet.
  • Best times to look: early in the morning before the beach gets crowded, and after a storm. A rough sea usually tosses many shells onto the shore.
  • One can often find shells at the high water line, at water’s edge, or in the small pools left on the beach at low tide.
  • Shells you might find are the lettered olives (South Carolina’s state shell), knob whelks and channel whelks, giant heart cockles, tulips, augers, and shark-eye moon snails. Though not technically shells, sand dollars, sea urchins, and shark’s teeth are other prizes found on local beaches.
  • Though big shells are the “showiest” and easiest to spot, don’t overlook the small ones. You’ll find some real beauties!
  • Unless you plan to eat what’s inside, it’s best, ecologically, to leave “live” shells where you find them.
  • Don’t take your treasures home and throw them in a drawer. Frame and display them for your enjoyment and as a reminder of your wonderful Myrtle Beach vacation!

Preserving Your Seashells

After collecting your seashells, it’s important to clean them thoroughly if you intend to put them on display or create new art with them. By removing the algae and the thin organic coating (called the periostracum), hidden colors emerge, adding to the beauty of the shell.

To begin the cleaning process and eradicate any lingering odor, mentions a few ways to remove residual tissue from the shell’s past inhabitant. These methods are particularly helpful for mollusks with spiraled shells such as conchs and snails:

  • Boil the shell.
  • Freeze the shell.
  • Bury it in the ground and let local insects do the work (for a few months).

Ways to bring out the shell’s color and remove any remaining algae or the periostracum include:

  • Soaking the shells in a solution of 50% bleach and 50% water as long as needed (a few hours).
  • Soaking them in water for a week. It’s less corrosive to the shell but the water should be changed daily.
  • Give them a good brushing—with toothpaste!

Finally, it’s time to make your shells shine by adding a very light coat of mineral oil. Now they’re ready to be part of your décor and a nice memento of your Grand Strand beach vacation!

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