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I just wanted you to know that we got the shell and it is looking great. Thanks again for your help and expertise. Terry ~ Westerville, OH
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Seashell Blog

Please visit our seashell blog where you can find uselfull information about seashells and leave your comments and suggestions. Click Here
 

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Frequently Asked Questions  

 

Q. How do I contact Seashells Direct - UsellMart.com?

A. Contact Information:
Amber Studio Inc.
3721 SW 11th Ct.
Cape Coral, FL 33914

Telephone: 239-357-6638
Toll Free: 1-866-369-2015

Url: www.usell-mart.com
Email: support@usell-mart.com


Q. How can I determine if there is still an animal inside when a shell is picked up off the beach?

A. When you first pick up a shell at the beach, if it is not obvious that the shell is still occupied by its living inhabitant, it is still possible that the animal is inside and has withdrawn back into the shell for protection. To determine if it is still alive, you will need to observe it for awhile. It is best to place it in a container of seawater, or in a small tidepool, leave it alone and watch for a few minutes. Usually the animal will feel safe enough after a bit to begin to extend out of the shell and explore its surroundings and at that point you need to immediately release it back where you found it.


Q. When is the best time to collect shells?

A. The only really good time to find shells is at low tides. Check the tide times on the internet or in the local papers or dive shops.


Q. When you hold seashells up to your ear, what causes the sounds in them?

A. What sounds like ocean wave noise when you hold a shell up to your ear is actually just the movement of air across and through the shell. You could hear similar sounds if you were to hold any kind of bowl or container up to your ear. Try just cupping your hand up to your ear and you can see what I am talking about. In other words, you are really just hearing ambient noise within a resonant cavity. The sounds you hear will vary depending on the shape, size, and any convolutions over which the air flows to produce sound.


Q. How can I safely clean shells I find on the beach?

A. It's very simple to care for these shells, provided they are empty inside -- which beach shells usually are. If there is still an animal inside, you will soon know because they will begin to smell just awful.

My suggestion would be to just wash them well in soap and water in a big bowl and set them on paper, aperture side down, to dry. If some of them seem dull, you can use silicone grease or jelly, which is a sealant and also will bring out the color. Apply just a tiny dab on your finger and rub in all around. Then buff dry with a soft cloth or towel. Don't use any acid or it will gradually eat through the shell.

If there is foreign matter on the shells, soak them in a dilute bleach solution for awhile, and the discoloration will come off. It will also loosen any attached calcareous matter.


Q. I washed some seashells with soap and water and let them dry in the sun, but there is a terrible smell coming from them. What can I do?

A. Although your shells appeared "empty", there were clearly some animal remains deep within the shells. If a bit of animal remains in the shell after cleaning, the odor will get quite strong. There are several things that can be done.
1) Soak the shell in water, changing the water daily—or twice daily—until the animal rots. It can then be removed by shaking the shell vigorously.
2) If the shell is large, an attachment to a hose nozzle, which makes a strong, narrow stream of water, can be inserted in the aperture of the shell. The strong blast of water will cause the animal remains to "shoot out."
3) If you are unable to get the remainder of the animal out, you can buy spirits of anise (at a health food store). With a dropper, release a drop in the aperture of the shell. The shell will smell like licorice for awhile - but it sure beats the alternative.


Q. Where can I collect shells?

A. California:

Diving to collect shells is permitted 1000 feet from shore. However, there are "bag" limits and seasons for some mollusks such as abalone. Consult the current California Fish and Game regulations.

In general, there are no restrictions against collecting empty shells from California beaches. However, on some beaches, empty shells may not be collected. Two examples are the La Jolla Ecological Reserve in San Diego County and Point Lobos State Reserve in central California, where it is forbidden to remove live animals, empty shells, and even rocks. When collecting empty shells from a beach where this is permitted, make sure you check the inside of the shell to be sure there is not a snail, hermit crab, or other animal hidden deep within.

Florida

Shells can be found on just about any beach in Florida. These are some of the best known for their abundance of shells.
**Always check local regulations regarding collection of live (shells with animal tissue still inside) shells. Collection of live shells are prohibited in some areas.

How can I identify shells I found or received?

Contact a shell club or you can find some shell's description on our website click here


Q. Many shells I find have holes bored in them, very precisely, and usually at the end of the shell. How did the holes get there?

A. Many mollusks prey on other species of shells by means of drilling. This means that they use specialized mouthparts and enzymes to excavate a circular hole through the shell and then insert their proboscis to eat the soft body parts of the clam or other shell. Sometimes octopi also drill holes in shells to get to the tasty animal inside.


Q. How to clean and prepare seashells for crafting

A. Who doesn’t go to the beach and come back with seashells? Most everyone manages to find one or two seashells; some people find hundreds. Whether you’ve found your own seashells this year, or purchased a bagful from the local craft store, you can make lots of beautiful gifts and decor items from seashells. If the shells are straight from the beach, though, you’ll have to do some cleaning and preparing.

Seashells are beautiful in their natural form but look even more gorgeous after they’re cleaned and polished. The first step in doing so is to soak the shells in bleach water - half and half. Soaking for a couple of days is usually the norm but some shells have stubborn stains that need extra time. The bleach water will not harm the shells so soak away. The bleach also kills bacteria making them safer to handle.

When the shells appear smooth it’s time to remove them from the bleach water. There are still usually some rough areas on most shells, so use one of several methods to polish the shells smooth. One way is to use a toothbrush with a cleaner such as Lime-Away. You can use other stiff brushes as well. Other cleaning items include scrapers, tweezers or dental picks. Use sandpaper or a small buffer to further finish the shells. Shells will look much more lustrous if you rub mineral oil on them. They must be completely clean and dry before oiling. Instead of oil you can also use clear nail polish.

If you intend to dye the shells do not rub with oil first. Instead, boil the shells for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse with distilled water that includes a teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt for each cup of water.

Mix the dye according to package directions then let the solution boil with the shells immersed for another 10 minutes. If you’d like the dye to be very dark, lessen the water slightly and boil an additional 5 minutes. Drain water and allow shells to dry on paper towels, but never newspaper. Newspaper ink can transfer onto the shells, ruining the dye job.

You can paint shells with a regular paint brush, add stickers then cover with clear nail polish, paint the shell in certain places with white glue then add glitter, or even add rhinestones and small faux jewels to the shells.

After the shells are clean and prepared you can make many crafts using the beauties. Seashells can make many decor items come to life, including candles, lampshades, soap dishes, clay pots, plaques and other wall hangings, paperweights and more. The new creations will make great gifts or decor pieces for your own home.


Q. How do I get the bad odor out of seashells?

A. If the whole animal is still in the shell it must be removed. This is usually accomplished by either boiling or freezing/thawing the specimen, followed by shaking the animal out, or picking it out with a thin sharp tool. Once the major portion of the soft tissues have been removed, the shell can be completely cleaned and deodorized by soaking in bleach (1 part Chlorox or other liquid laundry bleach to 9 parts water). For very dirty shells with a lot of heavy external matter, dilution can be 1 to 5. Lower gastropod (snail-type) shells into the bleach spire down, so the solution can run into the shell and fill the interior. Allow to soak for an hour to overnight, then flush under a strong stream of fresh water.


Q. What do you do with seashells? 

A. Here are some ideas for you to ponder.

  • How about filling a lamp or jar with some of your seashell treasures?

  • Make a Christmas ornament out of your finds.

  • Put your seashells in a fish tank.

  • Decorate your garden or poolside edge with seashells.

  • A table centerpiece of a seashell with flowers in it.

  • A net on the wall with seashells and sealife stuck throughout the net.

The possibilities are endless!


Q. Is it safe to buy seashells from this website

A. We use high-level 128-bit encryption which can calculate 288 times as many combinations as 40-bit encryption. That's over a trillion times a trillion times stronger.

SSL encrypts ordering information such as your name, address and credit card number to provide security during data transport.


Q. What credit cards do you accept for payment?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover.

 

 
 
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