When is the best time to look for seashells
on Hutchinson Island?
The best time to go beachcombing for seashells and sea glass is during low tide
as the calm waters gentle pull the sand away naturally
sifting through the sand, leaving the shells exposed or at
high tide and after tropical storms.
Also, look for the rack lines, rows of seaweed left on the
beach by incoming and outgoing tides. You'll have too many to choose from,
so make sure you bring something to carry them.
Low tide leaves more beach and sandbar exposed for the hunt.
This is also the perfect time to search for sand dollars.
There are vast amounts of sand dollars beds offshore and
when the tide is at it's lowest you can walk the sandbar to
find them or snorkel out past the sandbar and search the
ocean floor. Just be sure to leave the live sand dollars
behind. How can you tell if the sand dollar is live? If it's
purple or green in color chances are it's live. Live sand
dollars will also be prickly. If it's white or a
dirty white color and smooth, it's all yours.
Another great time to go shelling is after a
storm which provides big waves churning up the shells and glass lying at the bottom of the ocean.
The larger waves after a storm will toss up those perfect
large shells at high tide.
I suggest to not get to technical
about seashell hunting as Iíve found that these little
treasures wash up every day on the shores of Hutchinson
Island at low and high tide. Just take a walk and enjoy the
treasures Hutchinson Island and mother nature provide.
Shelling on Sanibel Island
Cleaning your seashells
To clean your seashells youíll want to use a 50/50 solution of bleach and water over night to get rid of living organisms and barnacles and brighten them up. Now that youíve cleaned your shells, make them shine by wiping them with mineral oil or baby oil.
To clean a sand dollars and starfish, soak in fresh water first. Change the water frequently until fairly clear. Then soak in a 50/50 solution of bleach and water for 5-10 minutes. Donít soak too much longer than that because the bleach solution may crumble your sand dollar. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water to remove bleach solution then let them dry preferably in the sun.
Sea glass is manmade glass that has wound up in the ocean,
tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small
pieces of smooth and beautifully frosted glass. More common
colors of sea glass include, brown, green and clear or
white, originating from beer and wine bottles, windows and
old Clorox bottles.
Rare sea glass colors include red, yellow, orange sea foam
green, purple, black or dark olive green, and pink.
Originating from old boat lights, Depression glass, soda
bottles from the mid 1900ís, spirit bottles, old Vaseline
jars, whiskey and medicine bottles.
Sea glass is a rare example of a valuable item being created
from the actions of the environment on man-made litter. Many
people sell their pieces, as found or as-is or display them
in a glass jar or tumbler, while others make them into
gorgeous pieces of jewelry.
Some beachcombing humor
While observing people on the beaches, my husband and I have jokingly categorized beachcombers.
Hunchers or Stoopers: people who walk hunched or stooped searching diligently for shells and glass.
Toe flippers: people who donít want to bend over and pick up the seashell but rather flip the shell over with the toe first to see if the shell is whole or broken.
Nonchalanters: people walking or strolling on the beach but will have their eyes pealed and stop in a moments notice to pick up the seashell or sea glass.
Can't resisters: Those that are strictly on the beach for exercise. Walking briskly or running and will stop suddenly to pick up that irresistible sea shell.
I've found myself in
all four categories! I started out with the sea shells but
now that I have a countertop piled high, I needed to move
onto something a little smaller so we don't drown in sea
shells. Now I hunt for sea glass. It's a little slower
hunt but very rewarding as I have found several of those
Many of the pieces found have
been made into
sea glass jewelry
by an artisan specializing in wire wrapped sea glass
jewelry all found right here on Hutchinson Island,