A Walk on the Beach: A Journey in Photos, From Seashells to Tampons

This past weekend brought us to my hometown for the annual Seaside Heights Palm Sunday Easter Egg Hunt.  It was a brightly lit, perfectly blue-skyed afternoon with a crisp southern wind and white-capped waves.  And although the kids enjoy digging in the cold beach sand for plastic eggs, I love the feel of the damp granules moving between my fingers as I search for buried loot.  (Assisting my little ones, I assure you.)

I have always loved the beach, no matter what the season or weather.  I love sunbathing in the heat of July as well as walking down the beach in the wet misty haze of a post-hurricane autumn day, grey and gloomy.  More than anything though, I love to search for the treasurers that our vast Atlantic deposits along the shore.   And since I was able to walk while simultaneously carrying a pail, I have collected the ocean’s prizes.

For much of my childhood, I thought I would study to be a marine biologist… the natural course of events for a beach-bummy Jersey Girl.  Although this longing did not come to fruition, I still love the ocean and now teaching my children about its bounty. 

So, I want to share these amazing photos from our recent walk on the beach this Sunday.  In all my life… in all my 38 years… I have only dreamed about finding a shell as big and majestic as the one I found just a few days ago.  Truly a gift from God.  I am so excited for you to see.

There were multiple skate egg cases dotting the beach on Sunday.  Those skates must have been busy beavers mating last month.  Even though I have found skate cases since I was little, I have never seen a skate in the ocean, ever.  Horseshoe crabs… yes, skates… no.   (Notice the cigarette butt?  Hasn’t anyone told baby skates that smoking’s bad for your health, causes cancer and stunts growth?)

Two skate cases embracing… in love.

Ok, so this obviously isn’t a seashell, it’s a tampon applicator.  I used to find these when I was little, except back then, they were mostly pink plastic.  When I was really little, I had no idea what they were, totally oblivious; I just knew my older siblings told me not to touch them.  When I was in my early teens, I knew what they were, but wondered how females changed their tampons in the sand without anyone noticing.  Duh!  Finally, when I was older, I got a clue and realized they were washing up on the beach from New Jersey’s wonderful policy of off-shore garbage dumping.  Maybe they haven’t stopped this practice.

Moon Snail shells, they are pretty rare to find, especially whole and not broken.   Next to a perfect black Bay Scallop.

A red Bay Scallop.

One of these things just doesn’t belong, one of these things is doing its own thing.  Can you see it?  The white plastic fork amongst the reeds?

Here it is.  I started to laugh and jump up and down when I saw this shell sitting in the sand as a wave washed across it.  I yelled, “Look! Look! LOOK!” to my eldest son.  He got so scared, he asked “Mommy, what is it?”  I think he thought it was an alien animal waiting to pounce on us.  He pleaded, “Don’t touch it!”  I said, “Are you kidding? I’ve been waiting 38 years to find a shell as big and as beautiful as this one here on the Jersey shore.  This is freakin’ awesome!  We are so lucky!” 

Can you believe it, I found a 7 inch Knobbed Whelk shell?  (Ok, I had to do some research to learn its proper name.)  Did you know it is the official state shell of New Jersey, signed into law by Governor Whitman?  Was Christie Todd kidding us, the whelk as the official state shell?  Ok, maybe I’ve found one or two of these shells on the beach before, but no more than 2 inches long and that’s over the course of three decades (almost four).  In no way is this shell abundant in New Jersey.  Instead, she should have picked the good-ole, found-everywhere-and-all-the-time-on-the-beach Surf Clam.  Here’s a photo.

Moms, New Jersey beaches are truly the most pristine (albeit the tampon applicators and plastic forks) beaches on the east coast.  From Sandy Hook to Cape May, the soft white sand of New Jersey far surpass the black-residue-left-on-skin sand of Virginia Beach or the cold waters of Old Orchard Beach in Maine.  (South Beach in Miami comes in a close second, but it is SO hot down there and I didn’t find any shells.  And I have yet to step on a Georgia beach— always wanted to do that.) 

So, let’s bring our kids to the beach, no matter what time of year or what type of weather.  You never know what surprise may await you. 

Let’s give our children memories for a lifetime.

This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Brenda Milouchev, a New Jersey mom.  Her fondest childhood memories are that of her days collecting on the beach including shells, seaglass, sandcrabs, starfish, and baby crabs floating in the tidal pools of the sandbar.  Does anyone else remember that summer?

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  1. sheiswinning@gmail.com'Shannon Winning says

    Holy Cow! What a shell score! I am so with you. I am obsessed with shells – beachcombing, collecting, crafting, reading. I am jumping up and down with you!

  2. says

    Amen sistah! Now I need a beach fix, and fast. There is nothing more therapeutic than the smell of the salty ocean air and the sound of the sea meeting the sand. I have a HUGE seashell collection that I plan to incorporate into our garden this summer. The Jersey shore rocks!

  3. bvilleblogger@yahoo.com' says

    I love this! Nice job on the shells. My family and I enjoy LBI but also vacation down in Panama City Beach, FL where the shells are always amazing.
    Really though, it drives me berserk when I find things like tampons, straws and other garbage that has washed up. Totally gross.

  4. degroatsheri@gmail.com'Sheri DeGroat says

    Thank you so much for the stroll down memory lane. It has been years (almost 6) since I have walked on those same beaches and reading this brought back so many memories….thank you Brenda!!!

  5. mrlighthouse70@aol.com'herbie says

    i found a couple 2 inche knobbed whelk shell but not complet about 5 years ago i had my god daughter on the beach and we came across a beautifull unbroken 4 inch one i gave it to her to take home and found out her mom put it in the trash when she got home if i know that i would have kept it for my self. I started collecting sea shell about 2 year ago have a good collection going but i have had the bug to go sea shell hunting at the jersey shore again its a great thing to get in to doing when i was at the shore last summer i would go for walks on the beach in the morning looking and would walk from 22 street all the way down to 3 street looking for sea shell in ocean city nj when you clean them and polish them the color in them is so beautifull. I was wondering i go to ocean city ever summer for a week is the other shore lines better for founding sea shell then ocean city i would love to know my e-mail is [email protected] mark the e-mail SEA-SHELL that way i will know what its about thank you

  6. mrlighthouse70@aol.com'Herbie says

    well just got back from vacation in ocean city nj the sea shell picking this year was not that great i guess it was because of the milded winter we had i must have walked 30 to 40 blocks on the beach and nothiong that great i did find 2 moonshells i picked up and brought home with me. But nothing like last year oh well. I even walked on the beach in cape may but all i found there was broken up shells.

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