North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of scenic beaches provide plenty of opportunities for discoveries of coastal treasures along the way. Beachgoers going for a stroll are in for a treat with the variety of seashells found in the area - just keep a careful eye toward the sand.
To help with your next Brunswick Islands shelling excursion, below is a guide of just a few of the shells and other treasures you might find on your outing. Just remember to leave the seashells and creatures in their home if they’re still alive! Shelling Tip: Be aware of the tides and schedule your shelling adventure for low tide.
Angelwings Resembling the wings of an angel, this shell can get up to about 5 ¾ inches long with 30 sharply beaded ribs.
Olive Shells These shiny, cylindrical shells can grow up to around 2 ½ inches long, and North Carolina is the Northernmost location where they are found in the U.S.
True Tulips The large, spindle-shaped shells have smooth and shiny exteriors and can get up to 9 ½ inches in size.
Sand Dollars Sand dollars are not seashells but sea urchins. Sand dollars that are safe to take home are white in color from being bleached by the sun. If you see a sand dollar that is darker in color and has tiny spines that resemble hair, please return them to the water.
Starfish A starfish is not actually a fish, but an echinoderm, which is related to the sand dollar. Starfish can live for up to 35 years in the wild and should be handled gently.
To learn more about the shells found in the Brunswick Islands, visit the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach. The museum features impressive displays of beautiful shells from the region and plenty of volunteers that can tell you more about them and even help you identify the shells you found on the beach. Visitors to the museum can also view shark jaws and teeth, and see live sea stars and urchins.
To get shelling and plan your visit to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.