Beachcombing in the Bahamas

Seashells littered Cape Santa Maria beach in Long Island, Bahamas after Hurricane Joaquin. Stuck in the north without gas for days at a time, I walked the two mile stretch of white sand, collecting oodles of special shells for displaying and creating.

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Though I tended to pick up rare shells, I scooped up common snail shells from the beaches despite their abundance. I began to appreciate the individual beauty of each one, some in shades of pinks, others in browns, a mixture of vibrant and pale colors. In one handful of snail shells, each one spoke of individuality.

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Another favorite collection were the spiny oysters washing up in purples, oranges, reds and yellows. It took a lot of internet searching and colleague questioning before I was able to identify these unique shells. Beautiful and exotic, the spiny oyster—also called the thorny oyster—attaches to substrates for life. Not many creatures can make lifetime commitments as easily as the spiny oyster.

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After the storm, I discovered another type of snail whose spiraled appearance coincidentally resembled the wind pattern of the very hurricane that brought them to shore. Xenophorids are a type of carrier shell that cements wayfaring shells of varying sizes to itself. This gives them a spiny appearance. While other spiny shells exert energy creating and maintaining their own spikes for self-defense, xenophorids–also called pallid carrier shells–spend no calories on protection. They can even adhere corals five times their size.

Say it with me now: Nature is awesome.

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In addition to those shells, I took a liking to what I call miniature conch shells. (I can’t seem to find their name, so if you know what they’re called, please let me know!) I get abnormally excited about small things, like tiny decks of cards and itty bitty scissors. Maybe it’s a female trait; girls like cute things.

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Months ago, I added a half piece of a rounded bottle neck to my sea glass collection. The instant I saw it I envisioned using it as a sea turtle’s shell for a seashell creature collection. Eventually, thanks to being stranded by Hurricane Joaquin, I was able to sit down and let my imagination wander with a glue gun and a bucket of shells.

Look for an upcoming post about what creations I made with my seashell collection!

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