Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shelling in Coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island

It is a wise father that knows his own child.
William Shakespeare

Our family has always embraced each other’s interests.  We almost take them on as our own.  I have attended two weather conferences with Grace.  I have run a baking camp for Lilah.  It is truly wonderful when we discover an interest that we all share. For us, this interest is shelling.  

You can’t shell as home.  After a long and at times difficult week, Greg and I decided to skip our normal Saturday routine of food shopping, running errands and having a nice family dinner at home, in favor of exploring beaches in Connecticut and Rhode Island.  We threw food into a cooler, grabbed water bottles, our microscope, shelling bags (mesh laundry bags), and headed north.

Our first stop was Rocky Neck State Park.  We have mixed feelings about this beach.  We love the soft white sand and the glacier formations to climb on and the contrast of colors created by the water, the sand and the rock, but we disliked the Amtrack trains that speed by every few minutes on their way to New York or Boston.

We were not sure we were going to find any shells until we explored the rocky shoreline.  The rocky, slippery shoreline.  Greg took a nasty fall and we were all very grateful he got up with no injuries other than a cut finger.  Grace made a huge discovery here, a Knobbed Whelk, our first discovery of this shell.  It was just sticking out of the sand.  I am sure we have walked by countless shells because we did not notice them, or take the time to dig a little.  Greg and Grace will turn over countless rocks to find what shells have washed up and been trapped under or around the rock. 

Driving towards I95 we passed by The Book Barn, a huge used bookstore in Niantic. Lilah asked if we could go and since it was a “yes” kind of day, we went!

We could have spent much longer browsing, petting cats, feeding goats, and wandering through shelves but we had another goal for our day, to visit Watch Hill Beach in Rhode Island.  We vowed to come back again -- soon!

Watch Hill is one of the prettiest places I know and I can’t believe I have never taken my family here before.  We found whelk cases, sea urchin, drills and sea glass.  The sea urchin is a bit of a mystery to us.  It is definitely dead, but it is not dried out.  Unlike the “shell” that washed ashore in Sanibel, this urchin has not been dead that long or it was somehow preserved.  We are letting it sit, waiting and hoping that it will dry up and pull away from the shell casing so that we can extract the body without damaging the shell.  

We are always learning.  This discovery of shelling has truly captivated our interest, our imaginations and touched our souls.  The very best part of shelling is that we are outdoors, together, in awe and wonder of our surroundings and the gifts we are able to take home and treasure long after our day has ended.


Diane Knecht said...

All of these areas are absolutely beautiful and I am so jealous! What a wonder passion you guys have discovered as a family. I love looking a the pictures of what you have discovered in your shelling adventures.

Mary Prather said...

I love your Shakespeare quote -- so so true.

And, I love the bookstore and that you went because it was "YES" day. :-)

Jessica said...

Thanks Diane! I know my IG feed has been full of shells lately!

Jessica said...

Yes days are the very best kind of days.....

Rosemarie said...

Oh, Jess. We love all three places and are missing the beach so much!!
We love it up here but when you grow up on the shoreline it makes it hard not to be close to one.

Your day sounds wonderful!

Karen said...

This is unbelievably beautiful and what an amazing day Jess. I love "Yes" days, we need to do more of these. And I love the book store!!!!! <3

Pam said...

I'm getting here a year later, after googling "shells in CT". Your blog has definitely inspired me to get to Watch Hill for shelling! ( I've never ever come across a sea urchin, so I'm impressed!)

Do you notice finding a lot of the same shells at 1 beach, different shells at another? In East Haven, there are TONS of jingle shells, in West Haven its slippers and small clams.At Aquinnah on Martha's Vineyard its moon snails.

LJS said...


I think the shell piles are always interesting from beach to beach and yes, we have noticed that. We find our best sea glass at Silver Sands in Milford. We are about to do some shelling on the Cape and it has been a while since we brought home shells from there. One year we found huge whelks but they were all live. Our best shelling spot there was a cove in Orleans.

Enjoy Watch Hill. It is one of my favorite places and one I do not get to nearly enough!

Mother of 3 said...

Those are three of my favorite places to visit! :) We're also big fans of Jamestown; Fort Wetherill in particular. We love looking for sea glass!

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