Shells and Summer Days

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I started to add tags to my photo and realised that most things associated with the beach start with the letter ‘S’ and I’d barely scratched the surface.  Sand, sea, swimming, shells.  I paused at shells because a sunbeam tinged my glass bowl of seashells which holds countless memories.

… I drifted away… the smell of sunscreen and the feel of sand sifting through my fingers… one day I will take those shells back to the ocean…

In case you missed my front page Photo Of The Week, below I have reproduced the wording which accompanied a close-up photo of my shell collection.  More scientific than personal but nonetheless I found it fascinating:


SHELLS are made of calcium carbonate, in the mineral form of calcite or aragonite.  Animals build their shells by extracting the necessary ingredients—dissolved calcium and bicarbonate—from their environment.  As the animal grows, its home—the protective shell that surrounds it—must get bigger, and so they grow their shells layer upon layer, creating ‘growth-bands’, or growth increments, within the shell.

“Some of these growth increments are visible on the external surface of the shell, while others are only visible in the internal structure.  But the interesting thing about the growth increments is that their width, or thickness, is affected by environmental conditions, like temperature.  Some growth increments are a reflection of tidal cycles, some show annual periodicity.

“So the series of growth increments within a shell are essentially a record of the animal’s lifetime and, similar to the study of tree-rings, some scientists study them to make interpretations about the environment where that animal lived and grew.  The oldest known individual animal lived in a shell—a specimen of the shellfish Arctica islandica has been documented to be 507 years old.”

For colours, shapes, biodiversity visit Academy of Science
https://www.science.org.au/curious/earth-environment/sea-shells

FOSSIL collector, dealer and palaeontologist Mary Anning (1799 –1847) was the inspiration for the tongue twister “She sells sea shells by the sea shore” from the original song written in 1908 by Terry Sullivan relating to Mary Anning’s beach-combing lifestyle.  Anning is known for the important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England.

The fascinating truth behind the old tongue twister
https://www.littlethings.com/she-sells-seashells-meaning

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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