On a recent trip down to Wildwood in New Jersey we found a ton of Knobby Whelk Shells laying on the beach and washing up onto the beach with the surf. Out of the 35+ years that I've been visiting this beach...I've never seen anything like it!
Over a 3-day period of time we collected almost a hundred of these beautiful shells. While they are officially called a Knobby Whelk Shell...some people who don't know the correct terminology call them Conch Shells. All of the ones we collected were 4" to 7" in length...perhaps a few over that.
I would say that the majority of them had a dead animal inside and we needed to remove it so that the seashells wouldn't end of up stinking. Today...I am going to tell you how I like to clean my Conch Shells or Whelk Shells so that others can properly learn how to do it.
2. Fill up a large stock pot with salted hot water. Place the shells inside and bring the salted water to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil and boil them for approximately 7-10 minutes. Turn off heat and drain out the hot water.
3. Place seashells into the bottom of your kitchen sink. Run cool water over them. Take a fork and pierce the animal inside and use the fork to pull the animal out in one singular piece. Trust me, they pull out pretty easily when you are using a fork.
4. Rinse those shells again...I like to run cool water over them for 3-5 minutes to help remove any sticky debris that may be lurking inside where I can't see. Lay out a towel and place all seashells on the towel to air dry. Once dry you can pack them up for the trip home or proceed to the next step.
5. If you want to clean them right away...which I recommend that you do...go out and get some S.O.S. Pads or scrubbing sponges. Trust me, the S.O.S. pads will NOT hurt these types of shells. You will want to use the scrubbing pad under cool running water and scrub up the outer shell. The bottom photo on the left above shows an unscrubbed shell. The bottom photo on the right shows one that has been half-scrubbed so that you can see the difference. Trust me, scrubbing them makes them even prettier!!! Let them fully dry!
* Spray them with clear acrylic sealer
* Rub them down with mineral oil or baby oil
* Mix a few drops of water in with some clear Modge Podge and use a foam brush to coat them with the sealer (my preferred method). Let dry.
That's it! It's pretty easy to clean up these large seashells that you find laying around on the beach. Please be respectful though and return all living animals in their original shells back into the water. Only collect the shells that you are sure that the animal inside is deceased or ones that the animal has abandoned. Thanks!