I feel like I just got back from being on the Amazing Shell Race in the Carolinas! Look at the colors of our shell-loot found on our trip to the beaches of Portsmouth Island, North Carolina. Can you believe it?
Oh yea baby, I gotta QUEEN HELMET! Errrr…. But then I’ve heard it’s also called a CLENCH HELMET or even the CAMEO HELMET. The HELMETS are always so hard to identify but what I do know is that I sprung into the air when I found it I was so excited. In the next photo, it’s sitting next to one of the many KNOBBED WHELKS we found and a SCOTCH BONNET – that’s North Carolina’s state shell.
We went on this trip with a bunch of other crazy shellunatic extreme shellers… Joan, Susan, George, Greg, Helen, Clark, (me) and on the front row- Carly, Hilda, Nanette, Jackie and our fabshellous leader Karen and the best shell hound ever- Roxie. We had a blast together!
Colorful weathered shells were scattered along the beach of the entire island peaking out of rippled sand dunes and half buried by high winds and heavy surf. The LIGHTNING WHELKS look so different on the east coast than they do in Sanibel.
SHARK’S EYES were mixed in with shards of broken OYSTER and SCALLOP SHELLS.
Most of the SCOTCH BONNETS were broken or cracked so it made it that much more fun to find a whole one… especially darkened with black or gray. The shells in the Carolinas stained with black or gray were likely darkened by iron sulfide from the sulfurous muck from years past.
Some of the shells like this KNOBBED WHELK have a bright orange, rust, pink or brown color due to being exposed many years to iron oxide minerals in the Atlantic Ocean sediments and fade in the sunlight when washed up on the beach.
The colors, pattern and architecture are unique to each stunning shell.
We found this amazing empty KNOBBED WHELK shell with almost a neon orange aperture that recently washed up maybe a few weeks before we got there.
Our first CAMPECHE ANGEL WING shell! It’s smooth, long, thin and has that high swoop by the hinge compared to our Sanibel ANGEL WINGS.
The internet makes the shell world even smaller… I “met” Greg Diesel about 6 years ago when he showed some of his amazing photos of shells and sunsets of North Carolina on iLoveShelling Facebook page . It was such a fun surprise to run in to him to meet in person for the first time on Portsmouth Island with his girlfriend Chrissy. We saw (well, I should rephrase- we raced passed each other haha) several times driving on the beach – they found a TUN SHELL!
I was thrilled to find a black TUN SHELL too even though the tip was broken off- I’ll take it. Yahoo!
She was over the MOON SHELL! It’s one of many of her spectacsheller shells…
OMG Look at the CHANNELED WHELKS too.
Joan’s faves were a baby QUEEN HELMET and a huge BANDED TULIP.
It was a total score for all of us to find a HELMET – Greg’s was absolutely perfect.
How did we explore this whole island? We four-wheeled it!
Greg and Carly drove their 4-wheel drive Nissan so Jackie, Clark and I piled in to ride the beaches until we saw an area with loads of shells…. then…. “Whoooaaa! Ssssst-aaaaahhhhp! Huuuuge WHELK!”. We all raced out of the truck to scour every inch until someone went back to get the truck to move it down the beach. We’d just stumble on a gorgeous shell sticking halfway out of the sand – Greg named us “The Helen Shellers”. Haha- It was wild!
How do you get to Portsmouth Island? You can only get to Portsmouth Island by boat so we took the morning passenger and car ferry from Morris Marina in Atlantic, NC and while we enjoyed the boat ride we watched a beautiful sunrise over the island.
A special thank you to Karen (and Roxie) for organizing this amazing shelling trip for all of us- it was spectacsheller.
So… does she look familiar? Karen, Helen and Jackie were on the first Shellabaloo. They are the crazy Carolina girls! It’s so cool we have kept in touch throughout the years and shared our shelling adventures with each other.
Clark and I had an amazing time with everybody. (thanks to Greg Diesel for the photo)
I hope to share more photos of our shells in another post but I still have our shelling stop in South Carolina to show you.
So keep checking back with me here because if you think you like this place…
You’ll love our next shelling hole just as much.
Shell-love and peace.
Join me on a SW Florida shelling adventure…