Words by Sarah Deloach
When visiting Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, people love to walk the white-sand beaches looking for little treasures scattered buried in the sand. These seashells become treasures once their previous owner (clams, scallops, mussels, oysters) move on to bigger and better things, leaving their tiny home behind for us to find.
Many different variations of shells that can be found on the Alabama Gulf Coast year around are the perfect to add to your shell collection.
Moon Snail shells are those that were once home to the predatory marine snail. They are typically rare in other beaches around the country but are prominent in the Gulf.
Scallop shells are home to the delicacy, scallops. This creature will live its entire life in the same shell, and it usually comes in a piri. It is known to be good luck if you can find both sides to the same scallop.
Lettered olive shells house a species of large predatory snails and are native to the Gulf. They typically love to live near shorelines, making finding them easy.
Lighting whelk shells can grow to be 10-15 inches in optimal habitats and will switch shells as they grow out of the last. It’s always exciting to find these shells still intact.
Scotch Bonnet shells are smaller but often have fun patterns and brighter colors, housing a marine snail. Similar to the whelk, the snail will leave its home as it grows bigger.
Florida Fighting Conch are the largest of the shells you can find at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. However, they tend to break in pieces, so finding one of these still intact is rare. Just make sure no other creatures made the shell home.
These are just a few of the shells you can find on Alabama’s beaches, and everyday thousands of new shells wash ashore. So whatever time of year you are visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast, you will be able to find an abundance of shells. With 32 miles of sugar-white beaches, the opportunity for shelling is endless. Just remember to be a responsible sheller and not take any shells with creatures still inhabiting them.