“Hi, My Name is Pat. I am Curious as to Why the Beach on Tuesday had so Many Shells?”

South Beach

Vero Beach’s South Beach, Florida


On March 4, 2016 Vero Vine received this voice mail:

If you didn’t listen to Pat’s voicemail here it is in text:

“Hi, my name is Pat and I was calling the Vero Beach Visitor’s Center, Vistor’s Bureau , but I am curious as to why the beach on Tuesday had so many shells.  Does it have something to do with the waves, the higher waves or winds, or would you know?

Usually when we’re there at Vero Beach there are very few different kinds of shells and I’m just wondering if you would know why, I guess Tuesday was an excellent day for shells there and I just wondered what it was paired with.  That would be Wednesday, March 2.”

Vero Vine kindly referred the call to us to see how we could help Pat with her curiosity.

It so happens Pat lives in Traverse City, Michigan.  She visited South Beach on February 16 with her niece, Carol, and her husband, who’s also from Michigan and there were no shells.

Then after she had returned home to Michigan on March 2 she received a call from her niece, who had stayed on in Vero saying that shells were all over the beach.  That’s when Pat called Vero Vine from Michigan.

We called and asked Pat why she was curious. She said: “We love shells.  I love to see them.  They are just so beautiful to see.  If you love the ocean then you love shells.  And I’m a little bit of a collector and like to take home a treasure from a beach where I’ve been.”

When we spoke with her niece Carol, who reported the shells, she said: “My aunt is curious about everything.  There is nothing she is not curious about.”

So we went to the Beach to see for ourselves and there were no shells.  However, a lifeguard acknowledged that it happens about twice a month.

Then we called the Environmental Learning Center and spoke with a naturalist.

Environmental Learning Center

The naturalist said the shells are located on the offshore reef and are brought onto shore by the tides which are linked to the phases of the moon.

The tides are extra high or extra low when there is a full or new moon, each which occur once a month.

The reason the tides are exceptionally high during a full or new moon is because the moon, earth and sun are aligned in a straight line and it creates a gravitational pull.

There are two tides everyday.  Especially when there are strong winds out of the East creating big waves and tide is extra high from the new and full moons, the Gulf Stream currents bring in the shells.  The next tide removes them.

Since there is a full and new moon once a month, that explains why the life guard said the shells appear twice a month.

The naturalist said that in addition to shells coming on shore, the phenomenon also extends to Sea-beans which come to shore from as far away as the Amazon River in South America.

According to http://www.seabean.com, “Sea-beans are seeds and fruits that fall from their parent plant into waterways, such as the Amazon River, then drift through inlets to reach the ocean.  They travel with ocean currents until they wash up on a beach somewhere, perhaps thousands of miles from their origin.

Sea-beans are quite hard and buoyant, which helps them survive their long-distance voyage.  In Florida, September and October are typically the most bountiful times to find Sea-beans.”

So now Pat from Traverse City, Michigan has something else to be curious about.  She will have to come back in September and October to search for Sea-beans, when there are full and new moons.

Four sea beans

Four Sea Beans


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