Natural beauty at the West Coast Shell Show!

Colorful snail shells on display at the West Coast Shell Show.
Colorful snail shells on display at the West Coast Shell Show.

On Sunday I peered into Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado and discovered a surprising exhibition open free to the public. It was the San Diego Shell Club’s amazing West Coast Shell Show!

There were so many beautiful shells covering table after table it blew my mind. Every shell, I noted, was unique and interesting, and many that I saw seemed like exquisite works of art. Nature’s abundant beauty was spread throughout the room. It seemed I had blundered into a vast treasure of spilled jewels.

When I walk along a beach, I like to search the sand for bright or colorful objects washed up by the tide. But I honestly know next to nothing about shells from molluscs on land or in the sea. So I learned a few fascinating facts during my short conversations with a friendly hobbyist and a dealer.

Among other things, I learned some shells are highly prized for their rarity and apparent perfection, and that a few can fetch many thousands of dollars. I also learned there are relatively few serious shell collectors worldwide. But those who have a passion for shells have a hobby that promises new discoveries at every turn and inexhaustible wonder.

The West Coast Shell Show was presented in Balboa Park by the San Diego Shell Club.
The West Coast Shell Show was presented in Balboa Park by the San Diego Shell Club.
Beautiful shells of all types could be enjoyed--and purchased--inside the Casa del Prado over the weekend.
Beautiful shells of all types could be enjoyed–and purchased–inside the Casa del Prado over the weekend.
A variety of different colored abalone shells were on display at the show.
A variety of different colored abalone shells were on display at the show.
A wide variety of beautiful cowry shells, a type of sea snail.
A wide variety of beautiful cowries. They almost look like polished agates to me. The cowry is a type of sea snail.
The story of shells appears to have many chapters and subplots.
The Story of Shells appears to have many chapters and pages.
The many shells seemed to me like exotic jewels, no two exactly alike.
The shells seemed like exotic jewelry or small works of art, no two exactly alike.
One display case showed a large variety of fantastic chitons. These almost look like polished wood!
One display case showed a large collection of fantastic chitons. To me these almost look like varnished wood!
Dr. Wesley M. Farmer had a table full of scientific books, plus lots of unique art he'd created concerning nudibranchs, a type of sea slug. They shed their shells after their larval stage.
Dr. Wesley M. Farmer had a table full of scientific books, plus lots of unique art he’d created concerning nudibranchs, a type of sea slug. They shed their shells after their larval stage.
All sorts of fascinating mollusc art created by Wes Farmer, including specimens made with colored oven bake clay.
All sorts of fascinating mollusc art created by Wes Farmer, including specimens made with colored oven bake clay.
The public could enjoy many amazing sights at the West Coast Shell Show!
The public could enjoy many fantastic displays at the West Coast Shell Show!

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

5 thoughts on “Natural beauty at the West Coast Shell Show!”

  1. Hello Richard, my blogging friend GP Cox suggested I visit your site, as I recently posted about plans to visit West Coast USA next year, from Australia. After an organised tour of Western Canada and an Alaskan cruise, we plan to hire a car in Seattle and drive down to San Francisco. I wonder whether you have ever done this drive and have any favourite places en route? Perhaps you have some posts you might like to point me towards? San Diego looks divine, however for this trip we think it will be just that little too far, especially as we have to fly back to Vancouver for our flight home (because of the airline the tour agency will use).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many years ago I took a long vacation and drove up the coast from San Diego to Seattle, then back down through the Cascades and Sierras. If you’re going along the coast as far as San Francisco, some great places I remember include Olympic National Park, the Columbia River, Redwood National and State Parks, and Muir Woods National Monument. The drive along the coast is pretty spectacular, with lots of amazing views and picturesque bays and towns. If you’re going along the mountain route, I remember enjoying Mt. Ranier, Mt. Hood, super beautiful Crater Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Reno, Nevada, Lake Tahoe, super amazing Yosemite, and Gold Country east of Sacramento, where there’s lots of history. Whichever route you take, it’s sure to be beautiful. I haven’t posted anything on my blog very far north of San Diego. Enjoy your trip!

      Liked by 1 person

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