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Shelling and Beachcombing


Seashells Hutchinson Island Florida

Shelling, Beachcombing on Hutchinson Island

Hutchinson Island Florida, the new "Seashell Capital of the World"? Sanibel Island has long advertised that they are the seashell capital of the world. Some may beg to differ.

With the Gulf Stream coming close to our shores along with numerous natural and artificial reefs and artifacts from the Spanish galleons that wrecked during the 17th and 18th centuries, the beaches of Hutchinson Island offer some of the best shelling and sea glass hunting opportunities around. Because the beaches are left naturally groomed by nature and not man, shell and sea glass treasures are abundant on the shores of Hutchinson Island.

 


Seashell hunting on Hutchinson Island

Seashells Hutchinson Island
Seashells Hutchinson Island

Sea glass Hutchinson Island
Sea glass Hutchinson Island

Seashells & Beach glass Hutchinson Island
Seashells & Beach glass Hutchinson Island

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 in color chances are it's live. If it's white or a dirty white color, 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.

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

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 "rare" colors. 

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, Florida. visit: www.seaglassjewelrybysam

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