Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Raccoon Key Shelling Trip

When Paul and I came back to Surfside Beach this winter we joined the Grand Strand Shell Club. We met Irm and Don who live here in Murrell's Inlet and they asked us to join them on a shelling trip to Raccoon Key. I met Irm last year at the Can-Am Days and was very impressed with her sea shell crafts, which included beautifully-made shell gift boxes.

This past Sunday we drove with Irm and Don to McClellanville, South Carolina to meet up with about 30 enthusiastic shellers and take the boat to Raccoon Key.

Aboard the boat here Irm is looking at some of the shells and fossils that have been collected on earlier trips. Don and Paul are looking on.

The boat ride is about 40 minutes and along the way our Captain, Chris (who is a honorary Newfoundland) stopped at Bird Island for us to see the pelicans and other birds. We are very lucky to see a pod of dolphins playing in the cove.

It took Captain Chris a couple of attempts to find an area for us to dock the boat so we could get off without getting wet feet. Although it was a sunny day, it was rather cool and not a day to be wet. Everyone is anxious to be the first off the boat so they can quickly look for the best shells. Sometimes the mud can be like quick sand, called pluff mud, so it is not always best to be the first one off. This trip we landed on solid ground. We arrived at 11 a.m. and Captain Chris returned for us at 3 p.m.
There are regulations governing how many shells that be taken off the beaches here so we were told that we were only allowed a bag each. Some people were armed with 5 pound pails, carts, etc. Paul and I had a couple of bags and a small pail. Here you can see some of the shellers busy collecting treasures. As our pail was small, it was filled quickly with many whelks, although my aim was to find sand dollars.

After a couple of hours shelling, we found Don sitting on the dune. He had collected a tub of sand dollars for me. Up to this point I had only found five, while some of the ladies had tubs and tubs of them. Jackie also gave me several and pointed me in the direction of where to find them. Paul and I were the amateurs on this trip. This was also our lunch spot. Unfortunately Don's lunch was down the beach with Irm.

I was very happy with all my treasures that I found during the day and while waiting for Captain Chris to return for us, I still had to look for one more sand dollar, and happily found it.

Paul and I enjoyed meeting all the shellers and it was a very enjoyable day. The beach area of Raccoon Key was so untouched and there were shells everywhere. Paul did find several channel whelks which are a little rare and I found a slightly broken scotch bonnet which is also rare.

This bucket shows just some of the whelks, channel whelks and sand dollars that we found.

We would like to thank Karen for organising the trip but more so thank Irm and Don for inviting us to go along. They have made us feel very welcome here.

We hope they will visit us in New Brunswick some time.


  1. You gathered some lovely shells. I love the sand dollars. They look huge.

  2. What a collection you both found,the sand dollars are huge....thanks for sharing your adventures , always so nice to look up and see where you have been and done.Miss you guys!!!