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BEACHCOMBING on Crystal Beach and Bolivar Peninsula
Beachcombing on Bolivar Peninsula Texas
Some of us see broken shells and washed up seaweed. Beachcombers see shark teeth and sea beans. Others see leftover trash and forgotten toys. Beachcombers see collections and treasures. Many walk the beach for exercise and relaxation and to find a souvenir shell. Beachcombers walk the beach with an eye for the unique. They often find useful and interesting items to add to artistic pieces and collections. And even more often, beachcombers find little-seen creatures that have washed in to shore.
Walk the shore line to find the perfect shell or one of a kind shark tooth.
Walk the shore line to find the perfect shell or one of a kind shark tooth.
Also look for treasures along the wrack line, the line of debris left by the receding high tide.
Also look for treasures along the wrack line, the line of debris left by the receding high tide.
Many finds are along the dunes, deposited by the high tides and beach cleaning equipment
Many finds are along the dunes, deposited by the high tides and beach cleaning equipment.
SHELLING
Seashells can be found in many sizes and shapes. Shells found on the beach are the hard protective outer layer produced by animals of the mollusk family. The animal is no longer in the shell, and the empty seashells wash up on the beach. There are two groups of mollusk: gastropods, having a single spiral shape shell, and bivalves, which have two symmetrical shells hinged together. These are generally called clams. It is not common to find a bivalve shell with the hinge intact. They frequently break apart before washing ashore.

You often find a hermit crab living in a spiral shell, but the crab is not the original animal producing the shell. A hermit crab will find and inhabit an empty shell and call it home. You may notice a small hole in the end of the clam shell you found. The hole was caused by a predatory snail using a tongue-like organ to 'drill' into the clam shell and extract the meat.

The pictures below are examples of shells found on Bolivar, although there are many other species. Some shells are seasonal, so you will not see them year round. Enjoy shelling.
Angelwing
ANGELWING
Cockel, one of many different varieties
COCKEL
Whelk
WHELK
Moon Shell (Shark's Eye)
MOON SHELL (Shark's Eye)
QUAHOG (Hard Clam)
QUAHOG (Hard Clam)
Rockshell
ROCKSHELL
Coquina
COQUINA
Dosinia
DOSINIA
Oyster
OYSTER
CRITTERS
Small sea animals are occasionally found while beachcombing. Hermit crabs are the most common but they typically do not wash up onto the shore. You can find them by feeling around the sand in shallow waters. Most spiral shells will have a hermit crab living inside. Other animals are not so common. The seahorse shown below was found floating in a clump of sargassum weed, and the puffer fish was spotted one evening at the water's edge. Walking the beach, you may see several different species of jellyfish, some of them are shown below.
Hermit Crab
HERMIT CRAB
Seahorse
SEAHORSE
Puffer Fish
PUFFER FISH
Blue Button Jellyfish
BLUE BUTTON JELLYFISH
Moon Jellyfish
MOON JELLYFISH
Portuguese Man-O-War
PORTUGUESE MAN-O-WAR
OTHER FINDS
Some of these are collectibles and others are just interesting to come across. Sea beans, shark teeth, and sea glass are sought after treasures by many beachcombers. Several varieties of sea beans can be found, typically arriving in the gulf from far away places carried by the winds and tides. Shark teeth are fossilized remnants of pre-historic animals - it takes a well trained eye to spot one. And sea glass can be found in many shapes and colors: greens and blues are highly prized specimen, along with odd shaped pieces.

Also shown below are other 'finds' you may encounter when beachcombing on Bolivar.
Sea Bean
SEA BEAN
Shark Teeth
SHARK TEETH
Sea Glass
SEA GLASS
Sand collars are the egg masses of moon snails. They consist of sand grains cemented together by a gelatinous matrix, with embedded eggs. The sand collar forms around the female moon snail, taking the shape of that particular snail. It's not a complete circle because the female has to leave herself an escape route. She starts laying eggs and the sand sticks to the mucus. Although the collar feels hard, plasticky and appears dead, each collar can contain thousands of living eggs. When the eggs hatch, the collar disintegrates. An intact collar has living snails in it! Please don't damage the sand collars.
SAND COLLAR
Mermaid's Necklace: these rounded capsules are joined to form a paper-like chain containing whelk eggs. After laying their egg cases, the female whelk will bury one end of the egg case into the substrate, providing an anchor for the developing fertilized eggs and preventing the string of egg cases from washing ashore where it would dehydrate.
MERMAID'S NECKLACE
Mermaid's Purse: a casing that surrounds the fertilized eggs of skates (looks similar to a small stingray). The egg cases that wash up on beaches are usually empty, the young fish having already hatched out.
MERMAID'S PURSE
Commonly referred to as a crucifix fish, this is the dried skull bone of a sailcat (gafftop) catfish.
CRUCIFIX FISH
Sand Dollar
SAND DOLLAR
Sun-bleached segments of manatee grass. Manatee grass is a marine seagrass that grows in the gulf. Manatee grass often breaks apart into segments during rough weather and washes up on the beach.
MANATEE GRASS
SEA FOAM
Sea foam is made by air bubbles caused by the breaking waves. At times, there are higher concentrations of organic compounds in the water. These compounds serve as a binding agent, and the bubbles stick together to form a thick foam. The foam may pick up sediment, giving it a dirty appearance. Sea foam is usually harmless and is often an indication of a productive ocean ecosystem.
Beachcombing on Bolivar Peninsula Texas

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