Winter is a great time for scouring the Beaches for shells

Fun finds, restrictions, and ideas for treasure you find at the beach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When most people think of Florida’s sandy beaches, they think warm, sunny summer. But what the locals already know is that winter at the beach has tons to offer.

The sand and water may be cold, but it’s a perfect time for looking for seashells.

Maybe it’s because less people are on the beach, or maybe it’s the cold weather and winter storms washing them ashore, but the beach always seems full of seashells and other great finds during the winter months.

As coastal residents, seashells have become an integral part of our home decorating scheme in many cases. They make great containers for Q-tips, candles and jewelry. Some act as decoration atop a cabinet, while others have been turned into craft projects such as a necklace or windchime. Little jars of sharks’ teeth collected throughout the years are tucked away. Even having a shell from someone's first trip to the beach, labeled with the date can act as a  little reminder of paradise.

While collecting is fun, leaving behind seashells and other marine organisms can also benefit our beaches, which is why you should always limit what you take. Shells provide protection for creatures such as hermit crabs and can be hiding places for small fish. They also help stabilize beaches and anchor seagrass.

But if you do want to take home a few souvenirs, it’s important to know there are some rules when it comes to recreational seashell collection on Florida’s beaches.

The major thing to keep in mind when you are collecting is, if it’s dead, it most likely is OK to keep.