The spectacular beaches of the Turks and Caicos hide a wide array of beautiful and intricate seashells. Unfortunately, of the best beachcombing sites tend to far from the popular beaches in The Turks and Caicos.
On the island of Providenciales, Grace Bay Beach, Leeward Beach, the Bight Beach, and the snorkelling sites of Smith's Reef and the Bight Reef are part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, where it's illegal to take and natural object or historical artefact.
On the sandy beaches in the Turks and Caicos, bivalves such as cockle (especially the glossy white egg cockle), scallop, wing, ark and lucine shells are the most common finds. The calico scallop and zebra ark tend to be the most colourful of these plentiful bivalves. The small milk moon shell, lettered olive, and bubble shells are likewise typical finds.
When shelling, it’s important to consider how a coast is exposed to the swell and rough ocean conditions. In the Turks and Caicos, fragile species such as worm shells, tuns, and murex shells often don’t survive in one piece on the rocky coasts. The exposed coasts are however great places to see small bits of coral.
Some of the larger finds include a collection of conchs, including the ever popular queen conch, king helmet, Triton’s trumpet (which by length is the largest shell found in our waters), and horse conch. Sea stars are found throughout the Turks and Caicos, yet it’s uncommon to find examples washed ashore that can be collected.
The Turks and Caicos does share quite a bit of commonality of species with Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and popular Florida Cays destinations such as Sanibel Island.
Whelk shells are notably uncommon in the Turks and Caicos, as are the larger scallops, clams, and lion paw shells.