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!