Many tourists visit the Jersey shore to swim in the ocean, picnic in the sand, ride rollercoasters, or enjoy treats on the boardwalk. Less recognized are the quieter group of dedicated beachcombers, searching valiantly for, among other objects, seashells. Most vacationers, especially children, pick up a seashell every once in awhile, but few are able to name what they find. This guide will help you identify your Jersey shore seashells and hopefully inspire you to keep an eye out for them during your next trip!
A spiraled Knobbed Whelk (scientific name: Buyscon carica) is somewhat like a conch shell, but takes on the color of a lightly toasted marshmallow. The knobs may be rounded or developed into spikes if the animal that lived in it died at an older age. They’re harder to find than a lot of other shells, so homeowners are proud to display them as table, desk, or counter decorations. This is the New Jersey state shell.
Scallops (scientific name: Aequipecten irradians), shaped like accordion fans, are the stereotypical seashell and have dark grey coloring. Some people poke holes in the smaller ones and wear them as necklaces.
Atlantic Surf Clam
The Atlantic Surf Clam (scientific name: Spisula solidissima) has the shape of a rounded isosceles triangle and a similar coloring to the Knobbed Whelk. The larger ones serve well as a beach-themed candy dish (Of course, make sure you wash it first!). Kids can also paint pictures on them.
The Angel Wing (scientific name: Cyrtopleura costata) looks like it sounds. The cream-colored oval-shaped shell’s ridges resemble feathers. It might be fun for children to use these to make an angel out of popsicle sticks.
False Angel Wing
Be careful, though. The False Angel Wing (scientific name: Petricolaria pholadiformis) is an impostor! You can tell the difference by looking at the shell’s hinge: the False Angel Wing’s hinge is not expanded. It also tends to be more golden in color. They’re still nice for decoration!
The oval-shaped Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) is one of the most common on the shore with a sleek, shiny, blue-black exterior and a lighter blue gradient on its interior.
The Jingle Shell (scientific name: Anomia simplex) are tiny and abundant, though largely ignored. It’s a shame. These shiny round shells come in multiple colors and would look lovely arranged in a pattern or strung together as jewelry.
The Horse Mussel (scientific name: Modiolus modiolus) is less common than the Blue Mussel, so people may hunt for it simply for the challenge. It has a rougher, tortoiseshell exterior.
Cape May Diamonds
Highly concentrated on Sunset and Higbee Beach, Cape May Diamonds are round, translucent quartz pebbles. If you can’t seem to find them in the sand, you can pick one up at a souvenir shop. It might even be cut into a diamond shape!
Be sure to look for these Jersey shore seashells during your next trip, especially if you’re visiting Cape May or Stone Harbor (Those are some of the best areas to find seashells.). You can use them as decoration, jewelry, or in your next art project! Search away!