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Beach Combing Along Florida's Atlantic Coast-Common Finds

Updated on March 25, 2013
Beach Combing Finds
Beach Combing Finds | Source

Florida's East Coast

Shells Common To Florida’s Atlantic Coast

Beach combing is one of my favorite pastimes. On a beautiful day, when the tide is low, I love to spend time just walking down the beach a seeing what I can find. Over the past few years, I've become familiar with the shell types that I can frequently find along this part of Florida. Based on my personal observations, I've formulated a list of those shells, and a brief description of each type.


These colorful bivalves, are one of the shell types that I find here. There are actually several varieties of scallop shells; the types that I find most often are the Atlantic Scallop and the Calico Scallop. They typically range in size from ¼-2 inches. Because they can be found in large quantities and in a variety of bright colors, I love to use them in crafting projects!

Scallop Shells
Scallop Shells | Source

Lightning Whelks

These are one of the most common, larger gastropod varieties that can be found on our beaches. They range in size from 2-16 inches in length. When I think of Lightning Whelks, I think of that shell that you hold up to your ear to hear the ocean!

Moon Shells

These smooth round shells are very common along this coast, and I find them often. They range in size from ½ to about 1 ½ inches. Several varieties that can be found along this coast, including the Colorful Atlantic Natica, Brown Moon Shell, and Shark’s Eye. On a silly personal note, when I was a kid I thought these were actual shark eyes, due to the name, so I was afraid to pick them up off the beach :) These gastropod are actually extremely carnivorous, and will bore into other mollusks by producing an acidic mucus.

Beach Combing Finds
Beach Combing Finds | Source

Gastropod Versus Bivalve

What's the difference between a gastropod shell and a bivalve shell?

All shellfish are classified as mollusk, a group of aquatic organisms that secrete a hard, calcium carbonate outer shell. However, they can be broken down into two main subgroups, gastropods and bivalves. Gastropod shells are those that spiral or whirl around a center apex. Those would include whelks, olive shells, and moon shells. Bivalve shells, on the other hand, are those shells with two sides, like scallops, arc shells, and jingle shells.

Olive Shells

These thick, elongated gastropod shells are also very plentiful on our beaches and can reach up to 2 inches in length. They are some of my favorites to find because they tend to be very smooth and glossy. When the snail is alive, the foot of the animal will actually cover and protect the shell, keeping it smooth.

Cantharus Shells

I find that these thick, small shells are particularly plentiful after a storm. They are not usually found larger than 1 inch, but can be fun for crafting if you find a lot of them.


Murex Shells

These shells are very spiny, giving them a very unique appearance. They are less common then whelks, and the other gastropods that I’ve listed, but I do come across them on occasion, and they are such a fun find.


Turnip Whelks

These are a more petite and delicate variety of whelk shell. I have never found one longer than 3 inches in length, though they can grow to 6 inches.


Ark Shells

Many varieties of augers can be found here. They are heavily ribbed and usually white, grey, or yellowish-brown.

Jingle Shells

These delicate shells are so pretty. They are typically white, dark grey, or light orange, and have a lustrous sheen. Jingle shells are very thin and often translucent, reminding me of the scales on a mermaid tail. If you collect a pocketful of them they will Jingle as you walk, giving them their name.


For more about Beach-side Living Check out: Kerry Anita by the Sea

Related Posts:

Sea Glass Finds


Sea Turtles

North Atlantic Right Whale


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    • KerryAnita profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Jools, glad you found the article interesting:) Beach combing never gets old, even as an adult I love it. The beach changes from day to day and there seems to be an infinite amount of new and interesting things to find!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      8 years ago from North-East UK

      Kerry, what an interesting article. I have always loved finding sea glass and used to keep it when I was younger. I live beside the seaside so we used to often go hunting for things on the beach, it was a fun activity when I was a small child.

    • KerryAnita profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Thanks sgbrown! seashells are great for decorating, i love to use them for that too!

    • KerryAnita profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Thanks Angelo!

    • KerryAnita profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Thanks Daisy! Glad you enjoyed:)

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      8 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I love collecting sea shells. Now I know much more about them than I did, thank you! I decorate with them in my bathrooms. Great hub, voted up and interesting! :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Beachcombing is one of my favorite activities also. I use the shells for seashell crafts and article writing - both about the seashells and the crafts. Nice bit of information in this article.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      8 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      What a well-researched, interesting article! I enjoyed reading it very much.


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