A passing hurricane or nor'easter can leave thousands of picture-perfect shells in its wake. Common local shells include whelks, angel wings, arks, pen shells, augers, cockles, slipper shells, jingles, coquina, and olive shells… That's not to say that there isn't a little bit of luck involved in any good beachcombing expedition. As expert beachcombers know, the true shelling Mecca of the Outer Banks is located at its southern edge, just south of Ocracoke, on Portsmouth Island. [Hugh J Porter; Jim Tyler; North Carolina. These treasure include sand dollars, which can range from a dark brown or green color with a fuzzy exterior to a bright white with the standard oval mark, to delicate egg cases for both manta rays and whelks, which are common beach finds in the spring and summertime. North Carolina is home to more than 200 species of native terrestrial gastropods, 30-plus introduced species of land snails or slugs, and approximately 52 species of freshwater snails. Moon snails are similar to the sundial, in that their circular shape contains a mouth opening, and spirals that wind all the way into the center of the shell. The best time to go is during the shoulder and off-seasons, when tourism is at its lowest, and the beaches are generally untouched and ripe for the picking. Regardless of what shells you uncover, scallops, clams and even pen shells are great multi-purpose shells that can be used for crafts, containers, or simple trinkets and reminders of a great day at the beach. While there are dozens of varieties of shells found in South Carolina, we’ve chosen some of our favorite — and most common shells — from here in Myrtle Beach. Don't forget that there are other treasures in addition to the standard collection of incredible shells that regularly wash up along the beaches. South Carolina’s state shell, the lettered olive, is a common sight. Common Seashells of North Carolina Angelwings are chalky white in color measuring 4-8 inches in length and can be found in waters as deep as 60 feet. Guests have even reported finding shells right under their vacation rental home, as the "fill" that is brought in during the initial construction to create a solid plot of land to build on is typically dredged right from the middle of the ocean. Auger shells range anywhere from one inch to 8 7/8 inches high. Here, beachcombers may find periwinkles, clams, scallops, and ancient whelks or olive shells that are the signature bright white, and have been buried for hundreds if not thousands of years. Oysters also commonly wash up, and while their exterior is generally knobby and gray, the interior is lined with an iridescent coasting making them simply beautiful. The calico and bay scallops are the most popular scallop shells on the Outer Banks, and can be a gorgeous finds, ranging in hues of white, gray, pink, and even yellow, and often containing speckled patterns or lines spanning their shells. Then, it's simply a matter of hopping out of the truck and examining the finds. If nothing else, the faint salty aroma of your prized shell will simply serve as a reminder of a great Outer Banks vacation. Again, on popular beaches that have been picked over, sometimes the best finds are just off the shoreline, in the 1'-2' feet of water waiting by the ocean wash. In fact, a harsh boiling may even cause your Outer Banks shell to lose a bit of its color in the process. Seashells are external skeletons of animals called mollusks that once lived inside. This type of shelling requires a very good eye and a quick reflex in order to scoop a good find out of the water before it is tumbled around by an incoming wave. Some lucky strollers may happen upon a freshly washed up whelk or even a Scotch Bonnet without much effort, and sometimes the best of beachcombers can be skunked during an extensive shelling trip. If you know where to look, the Outer Banks can be a beachcomber's paradise. Though generally common, many beachcombers love a good quahog as these shells easily double as a soap dish, ash tray, or simply a display container to hold other, smaller shells. Whelks generally produce the most confusion among new Outer Banks beachcombers, as they are commonly and mistakenly referred to as "conchs." Whelks come in three varieties all with specific characteristics.The … These shells are very common along the shores of Topsail Island and, in fact, along the entire East Coast of North Carolina. With miles of relatively untouched shoreline, Hatteras Island is paradise for any beachcomber. It is important to remember that spiders seen in North Carolina are not bound … Regardless of where you shell, just remember that every beach changes with a switch in wind or current direction, or a passing storm, or a slight change in temperature. Sand dollars regularly wash onto Ocracoke’s beaches and the … Named for its resemblance to the caps and plaid worn by the Scottish peasants. On popular beaches, early birds also have an advantage, as they can scout the beaches for shells left behind during the most recent nighttime high and low tides, which have been undiscovered by competing beachcombers. Sea shells common to North Carolina. Live animals are found approximately 50 to 150 feet offshore in moderately shallow water and typically in areas with strong currents. There's no one perfect beach here, just miles of shoreline to explore, and a great shell beach one day could shift a mile or two the next, depending on wind and water currents. 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