Shell Beach

Perhaps not the most imaginative name for this location, nor for this blog post – but hey, it says exactly what it is.  No more and no less!

Shell Beach stretches for a total distance of 110km and is composed entirely of shells (no small wonder), but perhaps more interesting is the fact that this shell population is dominated by a single species of white bivalve: The Cardiid cockle.

These cockles thrive in the salty waters of Lharidon Bight and Hamelin Pool, in the Shark Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site, and have no natural predators.

Google Map of the Shark Bay Area - Click on map to magnify

It is only when they die of natural causes that the shells are washed up on shore – a process which has been ongoing for as many as 6000 years.  That would definitely explain the fact that there are billions and billions of them!

At Hamelin Pool, these shells have cemented together to form a type of limestone called Coquina.

Some of the earliest buildings in the area were built using this material, but nowadays the only time it is quarried is when some building restoration is required.

The process of cementation is fairly simple:

  1. rainwater dissolves the calcium carbonate that the shell is made from, then
  2. the rainwater evaporates, leaving a white crystal behind which binds the adjacent shells together.
See? Simple.

Cemented "Coquina" Limestone

The water looked inviting, but believe me when I say it is every bit as icy as the icy-blue colour that you see here!

13 thoughts on “Shell Beach

    1. Thank you very much PrettyGee for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂
      It is an amazing beach – I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it before. We were lucky with clear blue skies that day – I think that emphasizes the whiteness of the shells 🙂

    1. Thank you Lisa… or perhaps it is because there is a geological story, or point of interest, that I choose to go there in the first place…?
      It’s a bit like the chicken and egg scenario!

    1. Thank you Meanderer. I have to admit that I only know a little bit about the place when I am actually there. I do enjoy just pottering about or sitting and “absorbing” the feel of a place (oh, and snap away with the camera!). It’s only when I get home that I do some research in order to make the blog-post a little more interesting 🙂
      Doing things that way around tends to help me remember more. On a trip I can get a bit overwhelmed with everything, trying to cram as much info into my head in a short time-frame, that I do forget a fair amount!!

  1. Wow looks like an interesting place! There is an island near St. Petersburg, FL called Caladesi Island. It is similar in the sheer amount of shells that cover the beach

    Interesting how the shells cement together. Love the info

    1. Thank you very much f-stop mama.. The cementing process is pretty simple, but one does have to wonder at how effective that will be in the long run.. Not sure I’d build with it!!

Been there? Done that? Seen it? tell!

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