Completion of the Nature Crafts elective is a requirement for the Cub Scout World Conservation Award. Collecting Seashells is one of the activities. A person who collects and/or studies seashells is called a Conchologist .
While Beachcombing can be a fun activity for the entire family, it’s important to follow a few rules. The Boy Scout’s Leave No Trace Front Country Guidelines will keep yourself and the environment safe. In the case of Rule #4 “Leave What You Find” it’s considered acceptable to collect items long as it fits this important rule:
DON’T TAKE ANYTHING LIVING
Even though you may be tempted to take a hermit crab home, it would be cruel to remove it from it’s natural environment. This rule also applies to plants and the numerous creatures that “look” like plants that can be found in tidal pools. Sticking to seashells, driftwood and dead coral and man made items is your best bet, but be sure to check inside for residents before adding them to your bucket of goodies.
Once you get home with your finds, it’s time to identify 5 seashells and complete the Nature Crafts elective. First time Conchologists should stick to the basics. Don’t worry about figuring out what Family or Species the shell is. You can do this later if you decide to be a serious shell collector. Concentrate instead on these 2 novice rules.
1> Was the creature that lived in the shell a Gastropod (snail)? or Bivalve (clam or oyster)?
2> What shape is the shell? Does it have ridges? Coloring?
The following web pages are useful identification tools for the novice Conchologist:
SeaShells.org - A great place for a novice collector to get their feet wet. Provides info on beach combing basics, a handy identification section, and a chapter on cleaning and preserving your finds.
CostalLiving.com’s Beginner Shell Guide - offers a very good identification tool for the beginner shell collector. Gastropod shells are simply classified by shape without delving into family and species. Costal Living’s Bivalve Shell Guide is an equally handy companion guide for Bivalve shells. Of course, there are a lot more than shells on the beach. You can see some of those other finds in the Beachcombing Basics guide.