How to Get Better Seashells at the Beach

Years ago, when I was a teenager, our father took us to Myrtle Beach. Finding shells was exciting and we were able to gather quite a few during our weekend there.

Each time I’ve visited Virginia Beach, though, I’ve had a hard time finding them. That is, until this year.

While searching for shells, I noticed a man standing waist-deep in the ocean with a long-handled, heavy-duty net. After a few minutes, he returned to his wife and they started sorting through seashells. I never considered using a net, so that afternoon while we were shopping for souvenirs, I looked for one of those nets. I finally found one at Sunsations for approximately eight dollars. I couldn’t wait to see what I’d pull out of the ocean the next day.

I suppose there are different types of treasure. I also learned a lot about the tides and their strength. There’s an old adage that we should never turn our backs on the ocean. This is true. I got slammed twice and two other times, waves yanked the net out of my hand. Both of my knees were bloodied and bruised with bits of jagged shells and sand embedded in the skin on my kneecaps. Over a week later, my wounds are still healing.

Bags of shells to be cleaned and sorted.

I was rewarded with hundreds of great shells using the net, but I paid a price for them.

As the tides come in, seems to be the best time to use the net. I’d stand on the gritty trail of shells and stones and before the waves went out, I dragged the net across the shell debris, quickly turning it upward and then washing out the sand from the debris.

I got a few surprises, too. In one scoop I pulled up a pair of prescription glasses that someone was probably wishing they could find. I found a cigarette lighter and caught two hermit crabs.

Hermit Crab.

The last morning at the beach, something wrapped around my ankle, and for a moment, I feared it might be a jellyfish. Luckily, it was a lost T-shirt.

I found the bill of a small billfish in one scoop. Looks painful, if stabbed by or stepped upon.

Using the net was by far the best technique for getting great, nearly perfect shells, and I did this every morning for about an hour. I found some great stones and pieces of sea glass.

If you decide to try skimming for shells when you go to the beach, remember to watch your back.

Some of the best shells I’ve cleaned so far.

Having sand and broken shells embedded in your knees isn’t fun. I didn’t realize how deep the sand was beneath my skin until part of the scab loosened and sand was still in the wound.

Stay safe … More about the vacation soon!

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