What the shell
Low tide uncovers many shells and shell fragments on the smooth, wet sand along the coastal waters of South Carolina. The morning light reveals the beautiful colors, textures and shapes of more than 700 species of shells. To improve your chances of finding the most brilliantly colored creations, get to the beach early before other shell hunters arrive. Here are a few interesting shells and fossils to keep an eye out for.
Story by Kennedy Gott
Best beaches for shell seekers
- Mitchelville Beach (HHI)
- Fish Haul Beach Park (HHI)
- The Sands (Port Royal)
- Hunting Island State Park
- Fripp Island
- Folly Beach
- Edisto Beach
- Kiawah Island
- Isle of Palms
Named for its resemblance to a screw, the carnivorous snail can be found in the sand close to the water’s edge where it munches on worms.
Because of the red inside, arks are also known as the “Bloody Clam,” and their outer shell is just as unique serving as camouflage.
One of the largest sea snails, whelks choose to dwell on muddy or sandy ocean floors. The carnivorous snail’s color depends on what it eats.
These glossy shells hold snails that live 20 feet down in sand and are easy to identify if you spot one above ground.
One of the largest bivalve shells in the world,
pen shells are buried in the sandy or grassy bottoms buried almost to the tip. They were once used by humans to weave garments.
Unlike other snails, slipper shells cannot move; they attach to other snails or rocks to spend most of their lives there.
A small but mighty shell, the coquina moves up and down
the shore by burying in the sand after a wave moves it to its temporary home.
These predatory sea snails are often seen plowing along in the sand, searching for bivalvic and other prey, resulting in countersunk bore-holes.
These heart-shaped bivalves thrive in our warmer ocean and with a more diverse food source. They are more colorful here because of our environment.
A fragile shell shaped like an angel wing, these clam-like animals burrow in the sand and are rarely found intact.