Sea Shells From the Sea Shore…


It is no longer politically correct to collect shells. Particularly if they are specimen shells harvested alive and their occupants murdered for someone to purchase their beautiful former living space. And the best specimen shells were all harvested alive. My mother was a shell collector and had thousands of specimen shells in her heyday. She counted among them the rarest of the rare, but she also reveled in the most common, as long as they were visually appealing, in particularly good shape or they caught her fancy. When she passed away 20 years ago, I inherited some of her shells, more out of sentimental value than anything else. But I have not purchased a single shell to the collection in the past 20+ years. I still pick up random shells when beach combing however, and even that is un-PC I gather, you are supposed to leave them there to turn into sand after another 100 years or so…


I have wooden bowls at the beach filled with shells, both from old collections (they fade over the years if exposed to sun) or picked up from the sea shore. But shells like the one in the photo above and below are part of the items Mom passed on…


…I used to know all their scientific names, but I haven’t kept up, so suffice to say I just marvel at their innate architectural and natural beauty.


And this one still opens at the hinge, revealing it’s smooth interior.


One of the bowls of shells. The next time you have a chance, take some time to look at each shell closely, they are really quite interesting in form and color. I can see why folks can be quite obsessed with them.


13 Responses

  1. Your mom’s collection of shells – exquisite. I share her fascination with nature’s beautiful construct. Heck, I have even taken home the shells of diwal we ate, and scallops shells (great variety there) and little sigays. Thanks too, MM, for the post on mani …. boiled mani is what we enjoy the best. So, madamo nga salamat, for these two recent posts – cheered our spirits on this snowy gloomy day hereabouts.

  2. Relatives are from coastal province, and they used to bring us some rare shells, including those big ones that my mom displayed in our house in a Manila. We didn’t think of it much , and didn’t take cate of it,till they all broke.
    Now I wish I still have them.

  3. The first photo is really interesting, I’ve never seen one like that before. Last year, when we were vacationing in St Maarten, me and my little guy were picking up sea shells in the ocean. Even as an adult, I still find them amusing and very interesting to look at. We did managed to bring home some in our luggage. I’d suggest to put them in a “shadow box” to display their beauty! :)

  4. Hello MM! Madalang po akong mag-comment but I’m a regular reader of your posts a couple or more years before the British gentleman”s passwords. I saw you on KMJS last night! I squealed when I found out you will be in last night’s episode. My family looked at me with blank stares! LOL! I explained to them your blog, Anthony Bourdain’s declaration of your lechon as “the best pig ever!”, to Zubuchon. Well they love eating like me but are not fond of reading food blogs or any blog so they just looked at me after. So much for reactions! LOL! ;)

  5. I had an ice cream container filled with shells from when my dad was stationed in Palawan. I came home one day to find it empty and its contents relocated to the aquarium hahahaha

    Just like cecile I had a fangirl moment during the KMJS episode – but it was my mom shouting “dali ung idol mo iniinterview ni Jessica Soho!” hahahahah

  6. Beautiful! I love shells; and as a new travel ritual my girlfriend and I would take home a single one to mark each trip. Un-PC, I know… what if a hermit crab needed a new home? :P

  7. Back in the early eighties when I was a US Peace Corps volunteer in Cebu, there was a shell man in the south of Cebu, that used to sell a large packaged collection of local shells. Each was painstakingly labeled with the name on little rolled up bits of paper, and every shell was lovingly wrapped in newspaper. A friend picked up one of these cardboard boxed collections for me for what I remember to be a very reasonable amount.
    These shells went back home with me to the US, with my soon to be Filipino husband and were displayed there for several years. Now they are back in our house where we live in Cebu province, lovingly displayed in an old pag-pag basket. So many happy memories!
    It’s true that it is now illegal to harvest many local shells, and rightfully so, but I’m grateful to have my old vintage shell collection.

  8. i think beachcombing and collecting a few shells that come to shore is harmless to nature. there are millions of them. in the philippines now and in many parts of the world there are harsh laws and penalties for collecting some types of shells but they re exaggerated and they make no distinction between shell collectors and big poachers. has anyone been fined at at the airport for bringing a few shells & small pieces of dead corals out? pls let me know



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