Tips on Beachcombing: Finding Sea Life
-by Michelle Dalida

The hottest summer spot is the beach. And, even though people usually go to the beach for the cool water and the warm sun, if you’re lucky and you’re on the lookout you will find that the beach is booming with sea life. Even if you don’t know what “beachcombing” means, you’ve probably done it before…

It’s merely the term used for when people go up and down the beach looking for seashells, treasure, etc. While anyone can beachcomb, here are some specific tips you can use when looking for sealife:

If you’re at a rocky beach, chances are you can find starfish. Starfish cling to the rocks underwater near the shore, so wait for low tide to spot them. Look for bright colors like red, yellow, orange or purple. If you want to take your treasure home, the best way to preserve a starfish is to soak it in 70% isopropyl alcohol overnight.  Then let it dry completely on a paper towel out of sunlight. Tip: weigh down the legs so they don’t curl up as they dry.

A traditional favorite of beachcombers is the Sand Dollar. Again, you’ll want to wait for low tide. (the best time would be low tide after a storm) However, unlike starfish, Sand Dollars are very fragile, so try bringing a small bowl lined with a paper towel with you if you’re planning to go sand dollar hunting. Sand Dollars will be white and 1 to 4 inches in diameter. And don’t worry; the white ones are dead sand dollars. Live Sand Dollars are brown and fuzzy. (not the prettiest things in the world).

How to Preserve a Sand dollar:

Step1: Soak your sand dollar in fresh water.

Step2: Change the water frequently, as it will turn brown and start to smell. Continue until the water stays clear.

Step3: Mix a solution of 2/3 fresh water and 1/3 bleach and let the sand dollars soak for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step4: Rinse with fresh water and let dry.

Step5: Mix water and white glue in equal portions.

Step6: Use a foam brush to cover the sand dollars completely with the glue mixture.

Step7: Let the sand dollars dry completely before using in jewelry or displaying.


While you might not find a Sand Dollar or starfish every time you go to the beach, it is likely that there will be plenty of seashells at every turn. These make great mementos, but if not cleaned properly , they can emit a terrible odor.


First, make sure your seashells are no longer home to any animals; we don’t want to hurt any animals - whether on land or in the sea. Before you start cleaning your seashells, wear protective eyewear at all times. Making sure your seashells are clean will not only protect you from germs but can also purify the beauty of the shell. Take a look at the shell below, before and after a cleaning.

Before                                      After

In order to make your shells look like this, soak them in a solution of 50-50 bleach and water. Time will vary.  If there are still barnacles on the shell after a good soak, try a water pick, toothbrush or grill brush to scrub them away.

Shells may also have rough lips. Lips are the part of the shell that outlines the opening, these may be chipped or rough and can cause cuts. Use a rotary grinder or file to smooth the lip down. Finally, when your shell is nice and clean, you can really make it shine with mineral oil or baby oil.

Michelle Dalida 

Read more daily pet news updates by Michelle at her blog,



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