Exploring the Outer Banks: An A-Z Guide to Types of Shells

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a popular destination known for its beautiful beaches and diverse marine life. Along the Outer Banks, beachcombers can find a variety of seashells. While the types of shells you can find may vary depending on the specific location and time of year, here are some common types of shells that can be found along the Outer Banks:

1. Scotch Bonnet (Semicassis granulata)

The Scotch bonnet is a distinctive and prized shell found along the Outer Banks. It has a rounded, smooth shape with distinct ridges and a creamy-white to light tan color. Scotch bonnets are often sought after by shell collectors due to their beauty and rarity.

2. Whelks (Family Buccinidae)

Whelks are large, spiral-shaped shells commonly found along the Outer Banks. They come in different species, including the knobbed whelk (Busycon carica) and channeled whelk (Busycon canaliculatum). Whelks have rough, textured shells with varying colors and patterns.

3. Coquina (Donax variabilis)

Coquina shells are small, colorful bivalves commonly found along the beaches of the Outer Banks. They have bright, rounded shells in various shades of pink, orange, yellow, and white. Coquina shells are often found in large numbers in the surf zone.

4. Auger Shells (Family Terebridae)

Auger shells are slender, elongated shells with a distinct spiral shape. They have pointed ends and can vary in size and color. Auger shells are commonly found along the Outer Banks, particularly in the surf zone and near sandbars.

5. Slipper Shells (Family Calyptraeidae)

Slipper shells, also known as boat shells or slipper snails, are small, curved shells resembling a slipper or boat. They have a smooth, glossy surface and come in various colors, including white, brown, and purple. Slipper shells are often found washed up on the beach.

6. Olive Shells (Family Olividae)

Olive shells are elongated shells with a glossy surface and a distinctive olive shape. They can vary in size, color, and patterns. Olive shells are commonly found along the Outer Banks, particularly in the surf zone and near tidal pools.

7. Clams and Cockles (Family Veneridae)

Clams and cockles are bivalve shells found in the sandy areas of the Outer Banks. They come in various species, including the Atlantic surf clam (Spisula solidissima) and the eastern mudsnail (Nassarius obsoletus). Clams and cockles have rounded or elongated shells and are often found in beach wrack or buried in the sand.

These are just a few examples of the many types of shells that can be found along the Outer Banks. Exploring different beaches, tides, and weather conditions will reveal a diverse array of seashells, each with its own unique beauty and characteristics. Remember to respect local regulations and guidelines when collecting shells and leave living organisms undisturbed.