Collecting seashells…Returning them to nature…Is it legal to collected coral in Australia?

Here are the laws regarding collecting any pieces of coral in Australia.

Over these past few years, we’ve walked the sands of numerous beaches throughout the world looking forward to many more beach walks in years to come. As we’ve walked our eyes have wandered from dreamily looking out to the sea to watching our step when an occasional branch or stick obstructed the path.

The Aztec type lines in this shell are amazing.

As we’ve walked we often looked down for seashells, often disappointed in never finding a single shell of any particular interest. Most were broken and already picked over from decades of tourists and locals walking those same beaches.

We found this coral in the bowl in the house. 
This shell has a rough exterior.

Here in Australia, after visiting many beaches so far we’ve been amazed by the number of shells we’ve collected. Are the beaches here all that less populated and visited by tourists? Also, we discovered some exquisite shells in a bowl here in our home. 

This shell appears to have an eye looking at us.

When we think of collecting seashells we often think of children sifting through the sand for that special find.  But, with our passionate relationship with nature, we’ve found ourselves picking through the sand with the enthusiasm of a child as we slipped one shell after another into our pockets to share here with our readers today.

This, found in the bowl in the house is quite unusual.

Few of the shells we encountered were broken and as we’ve continued on we realized we could easily have gathered hundreds, if not thousands of beautiful shells during this short period of time on our frequent visits to the half dozen or so beaches in the immediate area.

This shell is an exciting find.

Growing up in California I spent many sunny days at the beach. Then, it was easy to take the shells on the beach for granted when often stepping one could result in a tiny yet painful cut. 

This shell stood alone for its unique texture and color.

However, on occasion, a special shell would be kept as a memento of a good day at the beach often wishing I had a way to make a little hole in the shell to fashion it into a necklace with a thin gold chain.  n those days children were to “be seen but not heard” and asking my overworked father or angst-ridden mother for assistance was unthinkable. 

The smallest in this group is most intriguing.
The variance in color makes the shells, particularly interesting to find.

It remained a frivolous interest in the 1950s compared to my desire for a Barbie Doll which I never owned until girlfriends gave me one as a gift for my 40th birthday. I was thrilled as much then as I would have been at 10 years old. 

This is one of the larger shells we discovered.

Now, as we inspect the seashells we wonder what little creature dwelled therein, how long it survived, and why it left its shell behind. Below is the information, although simple, as to how seashells are created.

These three are definitely similar.
“Where do seashells come from? Seashells are the external skeletons of a class of marine animals called Mollusks. Where people have our skeletons on the inside of our bodies, mollusks have theirs on the outside of theirs. This way they help protect the creatures from predators, strong currents, and storms, help camouflage the animal and do many other things. Seashells are primarily made of calcium, a hard mineral, as our own bones are.
Speckled shell in varying shades of browns and gray.

“Marine” means having to do with the ocean — in this case, it means the animals live in seawater, in one of the world’s oceans.

When a mollusk dies, its shell is left behind, just as land animals leave their skeletons behind. Sometimes the shell is taken and used as a home by other sea creatures, such as hermit crabs. When a hermit crab outgrows the shell it has borrowed, it abandons it and finds a larger one to use.

Smoother exteriors on these shells.

Mollusks are divided into many types, but the two major ones are bivalves and univalves. These names are derived from Latin words, where “Bi” means “two” — which we see in words like “bicycles” (two wheels) and “bipeds” (animals that walk on two legs). “Uni” means “one” — for example the word “unicycle” which means it has just one wheel.

This shell appears to have a small round bead attached.

So bivalves are mollusks that have two shell halves that form a whole shell. Examples would be clams and oysters. Most mollusks are bivalves.

It’s colorful on the edges.

Univalves just have a one-piece shell, usually a spiral-type shell, often looking something like a larger, stronger, and more elaborate snail’s shell. Examples of univalves would be conch, whelks, nautilus, and similar shells.

Two of these shells had openings on the opposite side.

After the animal that created the seashell dies, the shell often washes up onto the shore or remains in the tide pool where the creature lived. Sometimes other creatures such as small hermit crabs then take the empty shell and use it as their home.”

This shell has a pearl or abalone type exterior.
These shells all had a  similar grayish tone.

Identifying all of the shells we collected and are showing today and their technical species names would take time sorting through hundreds of possibilities. We share them for their beauty and the possible story held therein that we can only imagine. For those of you interested in more technical details, please click here.

Most of the shells were smaller than a ping pong ball.

Today, we’ll return our shells to the beach where they belong, perhaps leaving them for someone else to find and treasure.

Plain white shells.
We grouped these together for their similar coloration.

Have a day filled with wonders!  We’re taking off for Cairns today and will be back with many new photos tomorrow.

                                             Photo from one year ago today, July 15, 2014:

One year ago today we were on our way for a boat ride in Funchal hoping to see whales up close and personal. Although we’ve been on several such boat rides, we’ve yet to see a whale up close. We’ll keep trying. These beautiful Alstroemeria were growing in our yard in Madeira. For details from that post, please click here.