The coastal waters of South Carolina are teeming with seashells. In fact, more than 700 species live in these waters. Common local shells include whelks, angel wings, arks, pen shells, augers, cockles, slipper shells, jingles, coquina, and olive shells. Starfish, sea urchins, and sand dollars can also be found on area beaches.
Sand dollars are an especially popular find. When these creatures are alive, they have a dark, fur-like covering. They turn white after they die, or when they wash up on the beach and the sun bleaches them out. Sand dollars are extremely fragile. Many souvenir shops sell sand dollars as well as post cards containing "The Legend of the Sand Dollar." Other seashells -- both native and from other parts of the world -- also are sold locally.
Searching for fossils is another popular pastime. The most common fossils found on area beaches are sharks teeth, which are usually black or dark brown. Fossilized sharks teeth are millions of years old. Vacationers often purchase necklaces and other jewelry made with sharks teeth. Other fossils found in the area include animal bones, horses' teeth, and fossilized shells.
The best times to look for shells and fossils are on an outgoing tide, during a new or full moon, and after a storm. Be sure to check the local tide charts for the best shelling experience.